Before the Athenian democracy, the tyrants, and the Archons, the city-state of Athens was ruled by kings. Most of these are probably mythical or only semi-historical. The following lists contain the chronological order of the title King of Athens (also prescribed earlier as kings of Attica), a semi-mythological title.
These three kings were supposed to have ruled before the flood of Deucalion.
|Periphas||Turned into an eagle by Zeus|
|Ogyges||King of the Ectenes who were the earliest inhabitants of Boeotia|
|Actaeus||Father of Agraulus, and father-in-law to Cecrops|
The early Athenian tradition, followed by the 3rd century BC Parian Chronicle, made Cecrops, a mythical half-man half-serpent, the first king of Athens. The dates for the following kings were conjectured centuries later, by historians of the Hellenistic era who tried to backdate events by cross-referencing earlier sources such as the Parian Chronicle. Tradition says that King Menestheus took part in the Trojan War.
The following list follows that of 1st Century BC Castor of Rhodes (FGrHist 250), with Castor's dates given in modern terms.
|1556–1506 BC||Cecrops I||Born from the Earth, he married Actaeus' daughter Agraulus and succeeded him to the throne|
|1506–1497 BC||Cranaus||Earth-born, deposed by Amphictyon son of Deucalion|
|1497–1487 BC||Amphictyon||Either son of Deucalion or Earth-born, he deposed Cranaus and was in turn deposed by Erichthonius|
|1487–1437 BC||Erichthonius||Earth-born son of Hephaestus and either Gaia, Athena or Atthis|
|1437–1397 BC||Pandion I||Son of Erichthonius|
|1397–1347 BC||Erechtheus||Son of Pandion I|
|1347–1307 BC||Cecrops II||Son of Erechtheus; omitted in Heraclides' epitome of Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians|
|1307–1282 BC||Pandion II||Son of Cecrops II|
|1282–1234 BC||Aegeus||Son of Pandion II; construction of Trojan Walls by Poseidon, Apollo and the mortal Aeacus (c. 1282 BC)|
|1234–1205 BC||Theseus||Son of Aegeus|
|1205–1183 BC||Menestheus||Trojan War and the Sack of Troy (c. 1183 BC)|
|1183–1150 BC||Demophon||Son of Theseus|
|1150–1136 BC||Oxyntes||Son of Demophon|
|1136–1135 BC||Apheidas||Son of Oxyntes|
|1135–1127 BC||Thymoetes||Son of Oxyntes and brother of Apheidas|
Melanthus was the Neleides king of Pylos in Messenia. Being driven out by the Dorian and Heraclidae invasion, he came to Athens where Thymoestes resigned the crown to him. Codrus, the last king, repelled the Dorian invasion of Attica.
After Codrus's death, his sons Medon and Acastus either reigned as kings, or became hereditary archons. In 753 BC the hereditary archonship was replaced by a non-hereditary system (see Archons of Athens).
- ^ King of Agea, not Athens; The name of Ogyges is also connected with Attic mythology, for in Attica too an Ogygian flood is mentioned, and he is described as the father of the Attic hero Eleusis (Pausanias, 1.38.7)
- ^ A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Oarses-Zygia. Edited by William Smith. Pg 20
- ^ or Hectenes
- ^ Harding, pp. 20–22; Gantz, p. 234.
- ^ Harding, p. 14.
- ^ Gantz, p. 235.
- ^ See also Iliupersis
- ^ Troy VIIa destruction layer at c. 1190 BC
- ^ Pausanias's Description of Greece – Volume 3 – Page 64. (cf. The successors of Codrus were Medon (son of Codrus), Acastus (son of Medon) [...])
- ^ Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians §3.
- Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: ISBN 978-0801853609 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0801853623 (Vol. 2).
- Harding, Phillip, The Story of Athens: The Fragments of the Local Chronicles of Attika, Routledge, 2007. ISBN 9781134304479.
- Jacoby, Felix, "Die Attische Königsliste", Klio 3 (1902), 406–439.