Mythical king of Athens who was born out of the earth and had a snake's tail. He was the son of Hephaestus and Gaea (Earth) and was given by his mother to Athena, who hid him in a basket. She took the basket to the three daughters of Cecrops, warning them not to open the basket. Because the girls were desperately curious they wen to have a little peak, and were horrified to see a child intertwined with a snake. Athena then took Erichthonius to her temple, and had him brought up there. Since then the snake was holy to her, which Phidias observed when making the huge statue of the goddess on the Acropolis: on the shield of Athena was a snake.

Erichthonius was often believed to be one and the same with Erechteus, or at least his father or grandfather.