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Rape of Orithyia by Boreas. Detail from an Apulian red-figure oinoche, 360 BC.

Orithyia (/ɒrɪˈθ.ə/;[1] Greek: Ὠρείθυια Ōreithuia; Latin: Ōrīthyia) was the daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens and his wife, Praxithea, in Greek mythology.


The Abduction of Orithyia (ca. 1730), by Francesco Solimena

Orithyia's brothers were Cecrops, Pandorus, and Metion, and her sisters were Procris, Creusa, and Chthonia.[2]

Boreas, the north wind, fell in love with her. At first he attempted to woo her, but after failing at that he decided to take her by force, as violence felt more natural to him.[3] While she was playing by the Ilissos River[4] she was carried off to Sarpedon’s Rock, near the Erginos River in Thrace. There she was wrapped in a cloud and raped.[5] Aeschylus wrote a satyr play about the abduction called Orithyia which has been lost.

Plato writes somewhat mockingly that there may have been a rational explanation for her story. She may have been killed on the rocks of the river when a gust of northern wind came, and so she was said to have been 'taken by Boreas'. He also mentions in another account she was taken by Boreas not along the Ilissos, but from the Areopagus, a rock outcropping near the Acropolis where murderers were tried.[6] However, many scholars regard this as a later gloss.[7]

Plato also mentions that Orithyia was playing with a companion nymph Pharmacea.[8]

She gave Boreas two daughters, Chione and Cleopatra (the wife of Phineus) and two sons, Calais and Zetes, both known as the Boreads. These sons grew wings like their father and joined the Argonauts in the quest for the golden fleece.[9] Because she was in Thrace with Boreas, she did not die when her sisters either committed suicide or were sacrificed so that Athens could win a war against Eleusis.[citation needed]

Orithyia was later made into the goddess of cold mountain winds. It is said that prior to the destruction of a large number of barbarian ships due to weather during the Persian War, the Athenians offered sacrifices to Boreas and Oreithyia, praying for their assistance.[10]

Other figures of the same name[edit]

Orithyia is also the name of four other minor figures in Greek mythology:

In art[edit]


  1. ^ Joseph Emerson Worcester, A comprehensive dictionary of the English language, Boston, 1871, p. 480, rule 3, where he notes that the pronunciation of such names is not e.g. /ɒˌrɪθiˈ.ə/ "as in Walker" (see e.g. Walker and Trollope, A key to the classical pronunciation etc., London, 1830, p. 123)
  2. ^ Bibliotheca 3.15.1.
  3. ^ Ovid. Metamorphoses, VI.683.
  4. ^ Bibliotheca, 3.15.2
  5. ^ Apollonius of Rhodes. Argonautica, 1.212.
  6. ^ Plato. Phaedrus, 229.
  7. ^ See Fowler's translation of Phaedrus 229d.
  8. ^ Phaedrus 229c.
  9. ^ Pindar. Pythian Odes, 4.8.
  10. ^ Herodotus. Histories, 7.189.
  11. ^ Homer. Iliad, 18
  12. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, Preface.
  13. ^ Antoninus Liberalis. Metamorphoses, 34.
  14. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Eurōpos
  15. ^ The Ancient Library - Europus
  16. ^ artothek.de
  17. ^ nationalmuseum.az
  18. ^ Walters Art Museum
  19. ^ Art Gallery of Ontario
  20. ^ [1]

External links[edit]