THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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AUTOCHTHONES (Gr. αὐτός, and χθών, earth, i.e. people sprung from earth itself; Lat. terrigenae; see also under Aborigines), the original inhabitants of a country as opposed to settlers, and those of their descendants who kept themselves free from an admixture of foreign peoples. The practice in ancient Greece of describing legendary heroes and men of ancient lineage as "earthborn" greatly strengthened the doctrine of autochthony; for instance, the Athenians wore golden grasshoppers in their hair in token that they were born from the soil and had always lived in Attica (Thucydides i. 6; Plato, Menexenus, 245). In Thebes, the race of Sparti were believed to have sprung from a field sown with dragons' teeth. The Phrygian Corybantes had been forced out of the hill-side like trees by Rhea, the great mother, and hence were called δενδροφυεῖς. It is clear from Aeschylus (Prometheus, 447) that primitive men were supposed to have at first lived like animals in caves and woods, till by the help of the gods and heroes they were raised to a stage of civilization.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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