Herse (Ancient Greek: Ἕρση "dew") is a figure in Greek mythology, daughter of Cecrops, sister to Aglauros and Pandrosos.

According to the Bibliotheca, when Hephaestus unsuccessfully attempted to rape Athena, she wiped his semen off her leg with wool and threw it on the ground, impregnating Gaia. Athena wished to make the resulting infant Erichthonius immortal and to raise it, so she gave it to three sisters, Herse, Aglauros and Pandrosos, in a willow basket and warned them to never open it. Aglauros and Herse disobeyed her and opened the basket which contained the infant and future king, Erichthonius, who was somehow mixed or intertwined with a snake. The sight caused Herse and Aglauros to go insane and they jumped to their deaths off the Acropolis. Shrines were constructed for Herse and Aglauros on the Acropolis.

An alternative version of the story is that, while Athena was gone bringing a mountain from Pallena to use in the Acropolis, the sisters, minus Pandrosos again, opened the box with Erichthonius inside. A crow witnessed the opening and flew away to tell Athena, who fell into a rage and dropped the mountain (now Mt. Lykabettos). Once again, Herse and Aglauros went insane and threw themselves to their deaths off the cliffs of the Acropolis. This story supposedly inspired an ancient ritual in Athens: "The Festival of the Dew Carriers" or Arrhephoria.

Some authors, such as Ovid in his Metamorphoses and Ars amatoria, wrote a different end for Herse and Aglauros. Ovid tells in Book two of his Metamorphoses that Erichthonius was born without a mother. Pallas Athena (better known as Athena, Minerva is her Roman name) placed him in a willow basket and told the sisters not to look on the mysteries. Two daughters, Herse and Pandrosos obeyed, but Aglauros looked and saw the child lying next to a great snake. Cornix, the crow, told Athena, who turned her feathers from white to black for her pains. Later in Book 2, Hermes (Mercury in Roman mythology) is in Athens and sees a festival to Athena. He falls in love with Herse and goes to her house to ask for her hand. Aglauros agrees to give Herse his message for the price of gold. Athena sees all of this and goes to the house of Envy and orders the goddess to poison Aglauros. Aglauros, who begins to waste away with jealousy, blocks the passage to Herse's room and refuses to move. Hermes, angry at Aglauros for breaking her promise, changes her into a black marble statue.

Cephalus is the son of Hermes and Herse who suffers a tragic ending to his happy marriage with Procris.

The name Herse also refers to:

  • A daughter of Selene by Zeus, see Ersa.
  • One of the many consorts of Danaus, mother of his daughters Hippodice and Adiante.

Other articles related to "herse":

Herse (moon)
... Herse ( /ˈhɜrsiː/ HUR-see Greek Ἕρση), or Jupiter L, previously known by its provisional designation of S/2003 J 17, is a natural satellite of Jupiter ... It was named after Herse 'dew', a daughter of Zeus and Selene the moon in Greek mythology, on 11 November 2009 ... Herse is about 2 kilometres in diameter, and orbits Jupiter at an average distance of 22,134 Mm in 672.752 days, at a mean inclination of 165° to the ecliptic, in a ...
Calcol - Birth of Ericthonius
... Athena gave the box to the three daughters of Cecrops, the king of Athens (Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaurus), and warned them never to open it ... Overcome with curiosity, Aglaurus and Herse opened the box, which contained the infant and future-king, Erichthonius ("troubles born from the earth") ... While she was away, Aglaurus and Herse opened the box ...
Aglaulus, Daughter Of Cecrops - Mythography
... Athena gave the baby in a box to three women—Aglaulus and her two sisters Herse and Pandrosus—and warned them to never open it ... Aglaulus and Herse opened the box ... Once again, Herse and Aglaulus went insane and threw themselves to their deaths from a cliff ...
... This feast was also called Hersiphoria, from Herse, the daughter of Cecrops, on whose account it was established ... Athens, whose tomb was in the complex, had three daughters, Aglauros, Herse, and Pandrosos ... One night Aglauros and Herse gave in to curiosity, opened the basket, and saw Ericthonios, the mysterious child of Hephaestus ...