Plutarch in his biography of the Athenian king Theseus (the slayer of the Minotaur) says that, after being widowed and reaching age 50, the king abducted the beautiful 12-year-old Helen (long before she married Menelaus, met Paris and was the cause of the Trojan War). Due to this outrage, her twin brothers Castor and Pollux invaded Attica to liberate their sister and threatened to destroy Athens. Academus spared the city by telling them where she was (hidden at Aphidnae). For this, Academus was venerated by the city as a savior. Also for this reason the Tyndarids always showed him much gratitude, and whenever the Lacedaemonians invaded Attica, they always spared the land belonging to Academus, which lay on the Cephissus, six stadia from Athens.
This grove of trees on the northwest side of the city, held to be his burial place, was ever after dedicated to his memory. Within this grove Plato gave his lectures, and thus arose the phrase "the groves of Academe". Due to this, Akademos' name has been linked to the archaic name for the site of Plato's Academy, the Hekademeia, outside the walls of Athens.
The site was sacred to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and other immortals; it had since the Bronze Age sheltered her religious cult, which was perhaps associated with the hero-gods, the Dioskouroi (Castor and Polydeukes), and for the hero Akademos. By classical times the name of the place had evolved into the Akademeia. Its sacred grove furnished the olive oil that was distributed as prizes in the Panathenaic Games and contained in the finely decorated Panathenaic amphorae presented to the winners.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "Academus". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.