Get Your Premium Membership


by Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition

CITHAERON, now called from its pine forests Elatea, a famous mountain range (4626 ft.) in the south of Boeotia, separating that state from Megaris and Attica. It was famous in Greek mythology, and is frequently mentioned by the great poets, especially by Sophocles. It was on Cithaeron that Aetaeon was changed into a stag, that Pentheus was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes whose orgies he had been watching, and that the infant Oedipus was exposed. This mountain, too, was the scene of the mystic rites of Dionysus, and the festival of the Daedala in honour of Hera. The carriage-road from Athens to Thebes crosses the range by a picturesque defile (the pass of Dryoscephalae, “Oak-heads”), which was at one time guarded on the Attic side by a strong fortress, the ruins of which are known as Ghyphto-kastro (“Gipsy Castle”). Plataea is situated on the north slope of the mountain, and the strategy of the battle of 479 B.C. was considerably affected by the fact that it was necessary for the Greeks to keep their communications open by the passes (see Plataea). The best known of these is that of Dryoscephalae, which must then, as now, have been the direct route from Athens to Thebes. Two other passes, farther to the west, were crossed by the roads from Plataea to Athens and to Megara respectively.