Quick Reference

In myth, are figures born lit. from the earth, with no human parents. While the idea of ‘mother’ Earth is influential here, autochthony is not normally presented as the origin of humanity in general (the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha comes closest to this) but rather serves to make a statement about a particular group of people. True autochthons (as opposed to the merely earthborn) remain in the land where they were born. Thus the autochthonous ancestor, like the founder‐figure, expresses and forms the group's sense of its identity, making an implicit claim to superiority over non‐autochthonous groups. The Spartoi (see cadmus), the autochthonous ‘sown men’ of Thebes, may at one time have represented a special class in the city, while the autochthon Erichthonius expressed the claim of all Athenians to be the original inhabitants of Attica.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

Reference entries