Procne (/ˈprɒkni/; Ancient Greek: Πρόκνη, Próknē [pró.knɛː]) is a minor figure in Greek mythology. She was an Athenian princess as the elder daughter of a king of Athens named Pandion.

Procne and Philomela sitting opposite each other, ca. 630–625 BC
Philomela and Procne (Elizabeth Jane Gardner)


Procne's mother was the naiad Zeuxippe and her siblings were Philomela, Erechtheus, Butes[1] and possibly Teuthras.[2] She married King Tereus of Thrace and became the mother of Itys (Itylos).


Procne's beautiful sister Philomela visited the couple and was raped by Tereus, who tore out her tongue to prevent her revealing the crime. She wove a tapestry which made it clear what had been done, and the two women took their revenge.[3]

Procne killed Itys, boiled him and served him as a meal to her husband.[4] After he had finished his meal, the sisters presented Tereus with the severed head of his son, and he realised what had been done.[4] He snatched up an axe and pursued them with the intent to kill the sisters.[4] They fled but were almost overtaken by Tereus. In desperation, they prayed to the gods to be turned into birds and escape Tereus' rage and vengeance.[5] The gods transformed Procne into a swallow, Philomela into a nightingale and Tereus into a hoopoe.[4] The swallow genera Progne, Ptyonoprogne and Psalidoprocne and the treeswift family Hemiprocnidae derive their names from the myth.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Apollodorus, 3.15.1
  2. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica s.v. Thespeia
  3. ^ Salisbury, Joyce E. (2001). Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World. ABC-CLIO Ltd. ISBN 1576070921.
  4. ^ a b c d Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.424–674 (*Note that the line numbers vary among translations).
  5. ^ Apollodorus, 3.14.8


External linksEdit