A daughter of Cecrops and Agraulus, and mother of Alcippe by Ares. This Agraulus, also called Aglaurus (Ἄγλαυρος), is an important personage in the stories of Attica, and there were three different legends about her.
1. According to Pausanias1 and Hyginus,2 Athena gave to her and her sisters Erichthonius in a chest, with the express command not to open it. But Agraulus and Herse could not control their curiosity, and opened it; whereupon they were seized with madness at the sight of Erichthonius, and threw themselves from the steep rock of the Acropolis, or according to Hyginus into the sea.
2. According to Ovid,3 Agraulus and her sister survived their opening the chest, and the former, who had instigated her sister to open it, was punished in this manner. Hermes came to Athens during the celebration of the Panathenaea, and fell in love with Herse. Athena made Agraulus so jealous of her sister, that she even attempted to prevent the god entering the house of Herse. But, indignant at such presumption, he changed Agraulus into a stone.
3. The third legend represents Agraulus in a totally different light. Athens was at one time involved in a long-protracted war, and an oracle declared that it would cease, if some one would sacrifice himself for the good of his country. Agraulus came forward and threw herself down the Acropolis. The Athenians, in gratitude for this, built her a temple on the Acropolis, in which it subsequently became customary for the young Athenians, on receiving their first suit of armor, to take an oath that they would always defend their country to the last.4
One of the Attic demoi (Agraule) derived its name from this heroine, and a festival and mysteries were celebrated at Athens in honor of her.5 According to Porphyry,6 she was also worshiped in Cyprus, where human sacrifices were offered to her down to a very late time.
- Description of Greece i, 18.2.
- Fabulae, 166.
- Metamorphoses ii, 710 ff.
- Suides and Hesychius s.v. Ἀγραυλος; Ulpian, on Demosthenes' De Falsa Legatione; Herodotus. Histories viii, 53; Plutarch. Alcibiades, 15; Philochorus. Fragments, 18, ed. Siebelis.
- Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v. Ἀγραυλή; Lobeck. Aglaophamus, 89; Dictionary of Antiquities, 30, a.
- On Abstinence from Animal Food i, 2.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.