1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cecrops

CECROPS (Κέκροψ), traditionally the first king of Attica, and the founder of its political life (Pausanias ix. 33). He was said to have divided the inhabitants into twelve communities, to have instituted the laws of marriage and property, and a new form of worship. The introduction of bloodless sacrifice, the burial of the dead, and the invention of writing were also attributed to him. He is said to have acted as umpire during the dispute of Poseidon and Athena for the possession of Attica. He decided in favour of the goddess, who planted the first olive tree, which he adjudged to be more useful than the horse (or water) which Poseidon caused to spring forth from the Acropolis rock with a blow of his trident (Herodotus viii. 55; Apollodorus iii. 14). As one of the autochthones of Attica, Cecrops is represented as human in the upper part of his body, while the lower part is shaped like a dragon (hence he is sometimes called διφυής or geminus, Diod. Sic. i. 28; Ovid, Metam. ii. 555). Miss J. E. Harrison (in Classical Review, January 1895) endeavours to show that Cecrops is the husband of Athene, identical with the snake-like Zeus Soter or Sosipolis, and the father of Erechtheus-Erichthonius.