The Ancient Library

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On this page: Erebus – Erechtheum – Erechtheus



greatest service consists in the fact that he was the founder of scientific geography. His greatest work was his GfOgrdphlca, in three books. The first was upon physical geography, the second treated mathematical geography on the basis of the measurement of degrees, discovered by himself. The subject of the third was chorography, based upon a map of his own drawing. The work is unfortunately lost, and known only by what later writers, especially Strabo, have preserved. Historical investigation owes a great deal to the ChrdnOgrdphia, in which he undertook to found chronology on as­tronomy and mathematics. His compre­hensive book on Ancient Comedy was a con­tribution to the history of literature. The Cdtdl&goi was a work on astronomy and mythology, in which were collected the fables of the ancient writers on the con­stellations, with an enumerationof the single stars in each group. A dry compendium, called the Catastlrismoi, containing a mere enumeration of 44 constellations, with 475 stars, and the fables attached, is based on the great work of Eratosthenes. His poetical efforts were a short epic called Hermes, and a celebrated elegy, the Erigdnt. Besides the compendium above mentioned, and some fragments, we have a letter of Eratosthenes to Ptolemy Euergetes on the doubling of the cube, and an epigram on the same subject.

Erebus. In Greek mythology, the pri­meval darkness, springing, according to Hesiod, from Chaos, brother of Night, and father by her of jEther and Hemera (day). The word is commonly used of the lower world, filled with impenetrable darkness.

Erechthenm (ErechtheiGn). The original sanctuary of the tutelary deities of Athens, Athene P61Ias, (the goddess of the city), Pfiseidon, and Erechtheus. It was situated on the Acrfipolis. The old temple, said to have been built by Erechtheus, was burnt by the Persians in 480 b.c. The restoration was perhaps begun as far back as the time of Pericles, but, according to the testimony of an inscription in the British Museum (no. xxxv), was not quite finished in 409. The new temple was, even in antiquity, admired as one of the most beautiful and I perfect works of the Attic-Ionic style. It was 65 feet long and nearly 36 broad; and was divided into two main parts. Entering through the eastern portico of six Ionic pillars, one came into the cella of Athene Polias, with an image of the goddess, and a lamp that was always kept burning. To

the solid wall at the back was attached the Erechtheum proper. Here were three altars, one common to Poseidon and Erechtheus, the other to Hephaestus and the hero Butes. Connected with this, by three doors, was a small front-chamber, with seven half columns adorning the western wall, and three windows between them. This chamber was approached through a hall attached to the north side of the temple, adorned with seven Ionic columns in front, and one on each side. Under this was a cleft in the rock, said to have been made by the stroke of Poseidon's trident during his contest with Athene for the possession of the Acropolis. Corresponding to this on the south side was a small hall, supported not by pillars, but by caryatides. This was called the Hall of C6re, and it probably contained the tomb of Cecrops. From it a step led down to a court, once walled round, in which were the Pandr<5seum (see PANDROsOs), the sacred olive tree of Athene, and the altar of Zeus HerkeiSs. On the east side, in front of the temple of Athene Polias, stood the altar on which the great hecatomb was offered at the Panathenaea. (See plan of acropolis.)

Erechtheus. A mythical king of Athens. According to Homer he was the son of Earth by Hephaestus, and brought up by Athene. Like that of Cecrops, half of his form was that of a snake—a sign that he was one of the aborigines. Athene put the child in a chest which she gave to the daughters of Cecrops, Agraulfis, Herse, and Pandrfisfis, to take care of; forbidding them at the same time to open it. The two eldest disobeyed, and in terror at the serpent-shaped child (or according to another version, the snake that surrounded the child), they went mad, and threw themselves from the rocks of the Acropolis. Another account made the serpent kill them. Erechtheus drove out Amphictyon, and got possession of the kingdom. He then es­tablished the worship of Athene, and built to her, as goddess of the city (PSllas], a temple, named after him the Erechtheum. Here he was afterwards worshipped himself with Athene and Poseidon. He was also the founder of the Panathenaic festival. He was said to have invented the four-wheeled chariot, and to have been taken up to heaven for this by Zeus, and set in the sky as the constellation of the charioteer. His daughters were Orithyia and Procris (see boeeas andCEPHALUS). Originally identi­fied with ErichthSnlus, he was in later times

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