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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Akademos (or Hekademos (Ἑκάδημος), Academus, or Hecademus) was an Attic hero in Greek mythology. The tale traditionally told of him is that when Castor and Pollux invaded Attica to liberate their sister Helen, he betrayed to them that she was kept concealed at Aphidnae. For this reason the Tyndarids always showed him much gratitude, and whenever the Lacedaemonians invaded Attica, they always spared the land belonging to Academus which lay on the Cephissus, six stadia from Athens. This piece of land was subsequently adorned with plane and olive plantations, and was called Academia from its original owner.

His name was linked to the archaic name for the site of Plato's Academy, the Hekademeia, outside the walls of Athens. The site was sacred to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and other immortals; it had sheltered her religious cult since the Bronze Age, which was perhaps associated with the hero-gods, the Dioskouroi (Castor and Polydeukes), for the hero Akademos associated with the site was credited with revealing to the Divine Twins where Theseus had hidden Helen of Troy. By classical times the name of the place had evolved into the Akademeia. Its sacred grove furnished the olive oil that was distributed as prizes in the Panathenaic Games and contained in the finely decorated Panathenaic amphorae presented to the winners.

Akademeia was the source of the word "academy". The expression "the Grove of Academe" refers to the sacred site of Hekademos where the cult had once taken place in an olive grove sacred to Athena.

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