Erysichthon of Thessaly

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Erysichthon Sells His Daughter Mestra. Engraving by Johann Wilhelm Baur

In Greek mythology, Erysichthon (also spelled Erisichthon, both of which translate as "Earth-tearer"), son of Triopas, was a King of Thessaly.

He once ordered all trees in the sacred grove of Demeter to be cut down. One huge oak was covered with votive wreaths, a symbol of every prayer Demeter had granted, and so men refused to cut it down. Erysichthon grabbed an axe and cut it down himself, killing a dryad nymph in the process. The nymph's dying words were a curse on Erysichthon.

Demeter responded to the nymph's curse and punished him by entreating Limos, the spirit of unrelenting and insatiable hunger, to place herself in his stomach. Food acted like fuel on a fire: The more he ate, the hungrier he got. Erysichthon sold all his possessions to buy food, but was still hungry. At last he sold his own daughter Mestra into slavery. Mestra was freed from slavery by her former lover Poseidon, who gave her the gift of shape-shifting into any creature at will to escape her bonds. Erysichthon used her shape-shifting ability to sell her numerous times to make money to feed himself, but no amount of food was enough. Eventually, Erysichthon ate himself in hunger.[1][2]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Ovid. Metamorphoses VIII, 738-878
  2. ^ Callimachus, Hymn to Demeter, 34 ff

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