Orithyia of Athens

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Boreas & Oreithyia Louvre

In Greek mythology, Orithyia or Oreithyia (/ɒrɪˈθaɪ.ə/; Greek: Ὠρείθυια Ōreithuia; Latin: Ōrīthyia) was an Athenian princess.


Orithyia was the fifth daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens and his wife, Praxithea. Her brothers were Cecrops, Pandorus, and Metion, and her sisters were Protogeneia, Pandora, Procris, Creusa, and Chthonia.[1][2] Orithyia 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.[3]


Boreas, the north wind, fell in love with Orithyia. 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.[4] While she was playing by the Ilissos River[5] she was carried off to Sarpedon’s Rock, near the Erginos River in Thrace. There she was wrapped in a cloud and raped.[6] 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.[7] However, many scholars regard this as a later gloss.[8]

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

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