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Ogyges, Ogygus or Ogygos (Greek: Ὠγύγης or Ὤγυγος) is a primeval mythological ruler in ancient Greece, generally of Boeotia,[1] but an alternative tradition makes him the first king of Attica. Though it's possible that the word is derived by the Greek Okeanos (Ωκεανός), the great river that surrounded the earth disc, the Greek word Ogygios (Ωγύγιος), meaning Ogygian, came to be synonymous with "primeval," "primal," or "from earliest ages."[2]

He is best known as king of the Ectenes or Hectenes who were the autochthones or earliest inhabitants of Boeotia, where the city of Thebes would later be founded.[3] As such, he became the first ruler of Thebes, which was, in that early time, named Ogygia (Ὠγυγία) after him. Subsequently, poets referred to the Thebans as Ogygidae (Ὠγυγίδαι).[4]

Pausanias, writing from his travels in Boeotia in the 2nd century CE, said: "The first to occupy the land of Thebes are said to have been the Ectenes, whose king was Ogygus, an aboriginal. From his name is derived Ogygian, which is an epithet of Thebes used by most of the poets."[5]

But there are a number of competing stories about him in Greek mythology. According to the scholiast of Lycophron, it was the Egyptian Thebes that was the site of his kingdom. Similarly, Aeschylus (in The Persians, I,37), distinguishes between the Greek Thebes and the Ogygian Thebes in Egypt. Stephanus Byzantius, writing in the 6th century, says Ogyges was the first king of Lycia. In yet another version of the story, the Boeotian tradition is combined with that of another part of Greece: Ogyges was king of the Ectenes, who were the first people to occupy Boeotia, but he and his people later settled the area then known as Acte (Akte). The land was subsequently called Ogygia in his honor but later known as Mount Athos. Sextus Julius Africanus, writing after 221 CE, adds that Ogyges founded Eleusis.[6]

Stories of his descent also differ widely. Besides Ogyges being one of the aborigines of Boeotia, there are tales that regard him as the son of Poseidon, Boeotus, or even Cadmus. Theophilus, in the 4th century (ad Autol.), says he was one of the Titans.

He was the husband of Thebe, from whom the land of Thebes in Greece is said to derive its name. His children are listed variously as two sons: Eleusinus (for whom the city Eleusis was named) and Cadmus (noted above as his father in other traditions); and three daughters: Aulis, Alalcomenia, and Thelvinia.

According to Africanus, he lived at the time of the Exodus of the House of Israel from Egypt.[7]

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