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Culture Mythology Eastern Macedonia and Thrace

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Kourtidhs, History of Thrace, 1932, Ancient Thracian Kings and Rulers
On-line book on the history and mythology of Thrace
evros.gr - the new portal for the Prefecture of Evros
Portal - Guide to the Prefecture of Evros
Thracian Tome 12: The Thracians and the Mycenaeans
online publication on the history and mythology of Thrace

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02/12/2007
Tereus

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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According to the ancient tradition from Homer and on, Ares originated from Thrace. Homer mentions that Ares was born and lived in Thrace because Zeus wanted to keep him away from the other Olympian gods. Herodotus mentions that the Thracians worshipped three divinities, Ares, Dionysus and Artemis, and that for the Scythians, who lived further east Ares was the most important god and was worshipped as the form of a sword. The Thracians, who were famous for their barbarian and warlike character, worshipped the fierce god of the battles with special honours as well as his equally strong and barbarian descendants, Tereus, Lycurgus and Diomedes.

According to the mythological tradition, Tereus, when he became king of Thrace, was called in by the Athenians to assist them in their war against the Thebans. With the assistance of Tereus, the Athenians won the war against the Thebans and as a reward they gave to the Thracian king the daughter of king Pandion, Procne, as a wife. Tereus took Procne to his kingdom and ha with her a son, Itys (or Itylus). Later, in a journey to Athens, Tereus met Philomela, his wifes sister, and fell in love with her. Tereus deceived Philomela by saying that her sister Procne was dead and managed to take her with him on his way back home; yet, he raped and maltreated her. When they arrived at Thrace, he cut her tongue off so that she could not reveal his secret and confined her in an area far from his palace. Despite the tortures she has suffered, Philipmela managed to contact her sister by means of a textile that she wove where she described her adventure and the fierceness of Tereus. Procne traced her sister and they both drew a plan in order to take revenge. They slaughtered and cooked Itys and offered his flesh to Tereus. Then Procne threw the head of their son on the table so that Tereus could realize what he had just eaten and they fled to Athens, in order to escape from the rage and the punishment of Tereus. He run after them with an axe and caught them in Daulis of Phocis. The sisters prayed to the gods to save them from enraged Tereus and to change them into birds. They did so by converting Procne into a nightingale and Philomela into a swallow.

There are several versions of the myth about the fierceness and brutality of Tereus as well as other myths that have it that the king of Thrace killed his own brother, Dryas, who might have been the father of king Lycurgus.