by James Hunter

That is, the tearer up of the earth. Erysichthon was the son of Triopas. He was an arrogant and impious man who dared to fell timber in the sacred grove of Demeter. As punishment, Demeter sent Famine to dwell in Erysichthon's entrails, so that he was continuously tormented by an insatiable hunger. He ate up all the food in sight, and sold all his possessions to buy more, but still he was not satisfied. Finally he sold his own daughter, Mestra.

Mestra appealed to Poseidon, who had taken her virginity, for assistance, and Poseidon granted her the power to change into any shape she wished, thus enabling her to escape her new master. Her father discovered her ability and sold her many times thereafter. Even this was not enough to assuage his raging hunger, however, and he eventually began to gnaw upon his own limbs, continuing his desperate quest for food until he had consumed himself entirely.

Müller1 thinks that the traditions concerning Triopas and Erysichthon (from έρευείρη, gobigo) belong to an agricultural religion, which, at the same time, refers to the infernal regions.



  1. Die Dorier ii, 10.3.


  • Callimachus. Hymn to Demeter, 34 ff.
  • Hammond, N.G.L.; Scullard, H.H. (eds). (1970). Oxford Classical Dictionary (2nd edition). Oxford University Press.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses ii, 833-iii, 2; viii, 738-878.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, i, 1-2.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.