List of kings of Athens

Before the Athenian democracy, the tyrants, and the Archons, the city-state of Athens was ruled by kings. Most of these are probably mythical or only semi-historical.

Earliest kings

These three kings were supposed to have ruled before the flood of Deucalion.

KingComments
PeriphasTurned into an eagle by Zeus
Ogyges[1][2]King of the Ectenes[3] who were the earliest inhabitants of Boeotia
ActaeusFather of Agraulus, and father-in-law to Cecrops

Erechtheid dynasty

The early Athenian tradition, followed by the 3rd century BC Parian Chronicle, made Cecrops, a mythical half-man half-serpent, the first king of Athens.[4] The dates for the following kings were conjectured centuries later, by historians of the Hellenistic era who tried to backdate events by cross-referencing earlier sources such as the Parian Chronicle. Tradition says that King Menestheus took part in the Trojan War.

The following list follows that of 1st Century BC Castor of Rhodes (FGrHist 250), with Castor's dates given in modern terms.[5]

ReignKingComments
1556–1506 BCCecrops IBorn from the Earth, he married Actaeus' daughter Agraulus and succeeded him to the throne
1506–1497 BCCranausEarth-born, deposed by Amphictyon son of Deucalion
1497–1487 BCAmphictyonEither son of Deucalion or Earth-born, he deposed Cranaus and was in turn deposed by Erichthonius
1487–1437 BCErichthoniusEarth-born son of Hephaestus and either Gaia, Athena or Atthis
1437–1397 BCPandion ISon of Erichthonius
1397–1347 BCErechtheusSon of Pandion I
1347–1307 BCCecrops IISon of Erechtheus; omitted in Heraclides' epitome of Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians[6]
1307–1282 BCPandion IISon of Cecrops II
1282–1234 BCAegeusSon of Pandion II; construction of Trojan Walls by Poseidon, Apollo and the mortal Aeacus (c. 1282 BC)
1234–1205 BCTheseusSon of Aegeus
1205–1183 BCMenestheusTrojan War and the Sack of Troy[7] (c. 1183 BC)[8]
1183–1150 BCDemophonSon of Theseus
1150–1136 BCOxyntesSon of Demophon
1136–1135 BCApheidasSon of Oxyntes
1135–1127 BCThymoetesSon of Oxyntes and brother of Apheidas


Melanthid dynasty

Melanthus was the Neleides king of Pylos in Messenia. Being driven out by the Dorian and Heraclidae invasion, he came to Athens where Thymoestes resigned the crown to him. Codrus, the last king, repelled the Dorian invasion of Attica.

ReignKingComments
1126–1089 BCMelanthus
1089–1068 BCCodrus

After Codrus's death, his sons Medon and Acastus either reigned as kings, or became hereditary archons.[9][10] In 753 BC the hereditary archonship was replaced by a non-hereditary system (see Archons of Athens).

Notes

  1. King of Agea, not Athens; The name of Ogyges is also connected with Attic mythology, for in Attica too an Ogygian flood is mentioned, and he is described as the father of the Attic hero Eleusis (Pausanias, 1.38.7)
  2. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Oarses-Zygia. Edited by William Smith. Pg 20
  3. or Hectenes
  4. Harding, pp. 2022; Gantz, p. 234.
  5. Harding, p. 14.
  6. Gantz, p. 235.
  7. See also Iliupersis
  8. Troy VIIa destruction layer at c. 1190 BC
  9. Pausanias's Description of Greece – Volume 3 – Page 64. (cf. The successors of Codrus were Medon (son of Codrus), Acastus (son of Medon) [...])
  10. Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians §3.

References

  • Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: ISBN 978-0801853609 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0801853623 (Vol. 2).
  • Harding, Phillip, The Story of Athens: The Fragments of the Local Chronicles of Attika, Routledge, 2007. ISBN 9781134304479.
  • Jacoby, Felix, "Die Attische Königsliste", Klio 3 (1902), 406–439.
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