Herse is a figure in Greek mythology, daughter of Cecrops (or, according to Pausanias, of Actaeus), sister to Aglauros and Pandrosos. According to Apollodorus, when Hephaestus unsuccessfully attempted to rape Athena, she wiped his semen off her leg with wool and threw it on the ground, impregnating Gaia. Athena wished to make the resulting infant Erichthonius immortal and to raise it, so she gave it to three sisters: Herse, Aglauros and Pandrosos in a willow basket and warned them to never open it. Aglauros and Herse opened the basket which contained the infant and future king, Erichthonius, who was somehow mixed or intertwined with a snake. The sight caused Herse and Aglauros to go insane and they jumped to their deaths off the Acropolis. Shrines were constructed for Herse and Aglauros on the Acropolis.

An alternative version of the story is that, while Athena was gone bringing a mountain from Pallena to use in the Acropolis, the sisters, minus Pandrosos again, opened the box with Erichthonius inside. A crow witnessed the opening and flew away to tell Athena, who fell into a rage and dropped the mountain (now Mt. Lykabettos). Once again, Herse and Aglauros went insane and threw themselves to their deaths off the cliffs of the Acropolis. This story supposedly inspired an ancient ritual in Athens: "The Festival of the Dew Carriers" or Arrhephoria.

Some authors, such as Ovid in his Metamorphoses and Ars amatoria, wrote a different end for Herse and Aglauros. Ovid tells in Book two of his Metamorphoses that Erichthonius was born without a mother. She placed him in a willow basket and told the sisters, not to look on the mysteries. Two daughters, Herse and Pandrosos obeyed, but Aglauros looked and saw the child lying next to a great snake. Cornix, the raven crow, told Pallas (Minerva), who turned his feathers from white to black for his pains. Later in Book 2, Hermes/Mercury is in Athens and sees a festival to Minerva. He falls in love with Herse and goes to her house to ask for her hand. Aglauros agrees to give Herse his message for the price of gold. Minerva sees all of this and goes to the house of Envy and orders the goddess to poison Aglauros. Aglauros, who begins to waste away with jealousy, blocks the passage to Herse's room and refuses to move. Hermes, angry at Aglauros for breaking her promise, changes her into a black marble statue.

Cephalus is the son of Hermes and Herse who suffers a tragic ending to his happy marriage with Procris.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • herse — herse …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • herse — [ ɛrs ] n. f. • XIVe; herce fin XIIe; lat. hirpex, icis 1 ♦ Instrument à pointes fixées à un bâti, qu un attelage ou un tracteur traîne ou roule sur une terre labourée pour briser les mottes, enfouir les semences. Herse roulante, norvégienne,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • *herse — ● herse nom féminin (latin hirpex, icis) Instrument agricole muni de pointes rigides ou souples, que l on traîne sur le sol pour l ameublir après le labour ou pour enfouir des engrais, des semences ou des mauvaises herbes. Grille coulissant… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • hersé — hersé, ée (hèr sé, sée) part. passé de herser. Champ hersé.    Porte hersée, porte avec une herse.    Terme de blason. Château hersé, château qu on représente avec une herse.    S. m. Nom d un mormyre, poisson …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • herse — HERSE. s. f. (L H s aspire.) Instrument de laboureur qui est fait en forme de grille & de rasteau, & qui sert à recouvrir là semence nouvellement mise en terre. On n a pas encore passé la herse sur ce champ. Herse est aussi, Une espece de grille… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Herse — (h[ e]rs), n. [F. herse harrow, portcullis, OF. herce, LL. hercia, L. hirpex, gen. hirpicis, and irpex, gen. irpicis, harrow. The LL. hercia signifies also a kind of candlestick in the form of a harrow, having branches filled with lights, and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Herse — Herse, v. t. Same as {Hearse}, v. t. Chapman. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • HERSE — Cectopis filia formae praestantissimae, a Metcutio adamata, cui sotor Aglauros invidens, et Metcutium, a quo aurum pacta erat, ut illum sorori conciliaret, inttoitu prohibens, in laipidem versa est: Ovid. Met. l. 2. v. 560. 725. 740. et 810.… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Herse — [ɛrs] die; , n [...sn̩] <aus gleichbed. fr. herse, dies aus lat. hirpex »Egge«> (veraltet) Fallgatter zum Schutz von Befestigungsanlagen (Mil.) …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Herse — {{Herse}} Tochter des Königs Kekrops*, in die sich Hermes* verliebte, während sie mit anderen Mädchen Opfergaben für Athene* im festlichen Zug auf die Akropolis trug. Als der Gott sich in den Palast begab, traf er zuerst Herses Schwester… …   Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

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