According to the myth, Athena visited Hephaestus' workshop to ask for weapons. However, the smith god tried to seduce the virgin goddess, who fled in disgust. Hephaestus chased her and managed to catch her, in order to rape her. Athena resisted and during the struggle, Hephaestus' semen fell onto Athena's thigh. The goddess took some wool to wipe it away and threw it on the ground. Out of that semen, Erichthonius was born. Athena decided to raise him secretly and hid him in a box.
The goddess gave the box to the daughters of King Cecrops of Athens, and told them to keep the box shut. However, two of them, Aglaurus and Herse, curious to see what was inside, opened it and saw the infant Erichthonius wrapped around a snake. Driven in madness due to the sight, the two sisters along with the third, Pandrosus, fled and fell off the Acropolis to their deaths.
When Erichthonius reached adulthood, he drove the usurper Amphictyon out of the throne, and became the new leader of Athens. He was married to the naiad Praxithea, with whom he had a son, Pandion the First. Throughout his reign, Erichthonius was protected by Athena, for whom he created the Panathenaic Festival. It was also believed that he invented the four - horse chariot, and after his death, Zeus was so impressed that he transformed him into a constellation, the Charioteer (Auriga).