Mt. Lycabettus

View from Mt. Lycabettus. In the background is Galatsi Hill. The strip of green to the left is Areos Park, with Neapoli in the foreground.

According to Apollodorus, an ancient Greek historian, the goddess Athena paid a visit to Hephaestus, the artisan god, and requested he forge some weapons for her. Mesmerized with desire, Hephaestus could not help himself, and attempted to rape a defiant Athena. In their struggles, he managed to ejaculate onto her thigh and Athena, in repulsion, quickly wiped it away, impregnating Gaia (“Mother Earth”). The unwanted boy and future king was given to Athena; she named him Erichthonius (“troubles from the earth”) and placed him in a basket and forbade all to ever open it.

Soon after, in order to augment the flat-topped Acropolis of Athens-and to help defend the city-Athena broke off a piece of Mount Pentéli and carried it roughly seventeen kilometers southwest before dropping what would be Mount Lycabettus, in a fit of rage, upon learning the basket carrying the illegitimate son of Gaia had been opened, despite her wishes.

Perhaps named after the wolves of ancient Athens who sought refuge amongst the barren landscape, towering 277 meters above sea level, the hill, now forested, offers spectacular views of modern Athens, the Port of Piraeus along the Saronic Gulf, and the northeastern Peloponnesos.

Although I didn’t make the hike until my second full day in Athens, Mount Lycabettus is probably the best introduction to Athens I can think of. Though difficult to see in my pictures, many of the ancient architectural and modern day landmarks I saw during my stay, I could map out simply by looking out from the hill. The following pictures from my 2009 trip to Athens demonstrate these views-many of them amongst a sunlit backdrop.

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