Greek - A king of Thrace. Son of Ares. Father of Itys. He married Procne and fathered a son, Itys. He later went through a form of marriage with Philomela, Procne's younger sister, pretending that Procne was dead. In fact, she was incarcerated in the slave quarters. In some versions of the tale, Tereus had cut out Procne's tongue to prevent her from any communication with her sister, in others he cut out Philomela's tongue when she tried to denounce him as the monster he undoubtedly was. The sisters did manage to communicate through words and pictures woven into a tapestry and they avenged themselves by killing Itys, cutting him up and serving him to Tereus in a stew. Tereus would have slain them with an axe but the gods intervened and turned all three into birds, Tereus into a hawk (or owl or hoopoe), Philomela into a nightingale, Procne into a swallow and Itys into a pheasant or a sandpiper. Since the nightingale sings while the swallow can merely twitter, it seems perhaps more likely that it was Procne who had her tongue cut out. In some accounts, the roles of Philomela and Procne are reversed. Called Tereus.

Nearby Myths