The Wisdom of the Gods: Athena
I thought I celebrate the Birthday of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War.
|The Male Athena|
The Greek goddess Athena is usually portrayed as one of the most benevolent goddesses. She is also strong, fair, and merciful. Athena is known as one of the three virgin goddesses, referred to as virgin because they were able to remain independent and free from men’s control, immune to the spells of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and the consequent pull of marriage and motherhood. In Greek mythology Athena was, in essence, the prototype of the "career woman".
Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis. But there was a problem, Zeus was told by Mother Gaia that if he had a son by her this son would be mightier than him (you know, the same way he was greater than his daddy and his daddy was greater than his grandpa). So to nick this in the butt he tricked Metis to come close to him and swallowing her. He figured she was no longer a threat. However, Metis was pregnant with Athena at the time and when it was time for Athena to be born, this turned into quite a problem. Soon Zeus was plagued with killer headaches and he ran to Prometheus and begged him to open his head. Prometheus did as he was told, and out popped Athena, full grown and ready for battle!
Zeus’s first child, the goddess Athena quickly became his favorite. Athena was the only one of his children that Zeus ever entrusted with his magic shield and the secret of where his Master Bolt was stored. The goddess Athena remained his constant ally and fierce protector, promoting his interests, serving as his advisor.
The goddess Athena was a superb strategist and many of the Greek myths recount tales of her help given to various gods, goddesses, and heroes as they went into battle or faced seemingly impossible tests. Although she was widely known in one of her roles as "Athena Goddess of War", it was as a mediator and a planner that she excelled. She always worked to prevent war, but once war had been joined the goddess Athena fought efficiently for her side.
Athena championed many heroes and warriors, offering them her advice and protection, helping them to win their battles. In one of her most famous adventures Athena would assume the shape of various men, women, and children to guide the wandering Odysseus. Her protection allowed the suffering hero to finally return safely to his home and family.
Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory, often accompanied the goddess Athena. Not surprising, since "Athena, Goddess of War" never lost a battle. Athena was frequently called upon to settle disputes between the gods or various mortals. "Athena Goddess of Wisdom" was known for her superb logic and intellect. Her decisions were usually well-considered, highly ethical, and seldom motivated by self-interest. Not only the goddess Athena's decisions demonstrate her wisdom, but they revealed her great compassion as well.
I am telling this story here (briefly) because it is important to Athena (I think), but there is a much better version of this, for your reading pleasure will come later. So! Ancient time the city of Athens belonged to Poseidon. He had claimed it by coming in, striking a rock with his trident and establishing a spring.
But the spring gushed salt water, and so it wasn't very useful. Many years later, during the reign of Cecrops (a half-snake man who was the king there), Athena came in and planted an olive tree, thus claiming the land for herself. Poseidon was totally pissed off, and challenged Athena to mortal combat and Athena was about to accept except that Zeus stepped in and stopped them. Instead they went before the Gods with Cecrops presenting the evidence. The Olympians (before Dionysus born) voted. All the males voted for Poseidon and all the Goddesses voted for Athena, except for Zeus - who refused to give his opinion. Therefore, Athena won the decision by one vote.
Poseidon was pissed, threw a temper tantrum and flooded another one of Athena's cities (called Athenae on the Thriasian Plain). So Athena moved to Athens, took residence there and named that city after herself too. But, to help Poseidon's ego and save the city, the women of Athens were deprived of their vote, and men were no longer to carry their mothers' names.
Once, when a man called Teiresias accidentally walked in upon the goddess Athena while she was bathing (an act usually punished by death), Athena took pity on the poor mortal. Not wishing his death, she instead covered his eyes with her hands, thus simultaneously blinding him and giving him "inner sight" and the gift of prophecy. As a result he became one of the most revered oracles in ancient Greece.
Athena was, as I said, generally cool. But every once in a while she got all bitchy (as gods tend to get) and lashed out. Once, was a rather minor incident when she invented this double stemmed flute. She was really excited about it, and went around playing it everywhere. That is, until someone happened to mention that she looked absolutely ridiculous with her cheeks puffed out like that to play. She was furious and threw the flute onto the ground where it was picked up by Marsyas, but that's another story.
The one time Athena really lost it for something petty was in the story of Arachne. Arachne was this Lydian princess who was a fabulous weaver. She was so good that people said she was better than Athena. Athena heard and was all like, "Excuuuuuuse me? Please girl, I invented weaving," and challenged Arachne to a weave-off. They both made beautiful tapestries, and both were completely flawless, except Arachne's made fun of the Gods. Athena was bitter and very pissed and ripped Arachne's work to shreds in a cold, vengeful rage. Arachne totally didn't mean to upset her heroine and hung herself, but Athena condemned the girl by turning her into a spider and giving her the ability to weave forever. Her descendants plague Athena’s followers and children
A goddess of many talents, "Athena Goddess of Crafts" was an expert artisan herself. She is a best friend and sometime lover to the God Hephaestus The goddess Athena was celebrated as the patron of weavers, potters, goldsmiths, sculptors, musicians, and horsemen. Athena was credited with the invention of the yoke and the bridle, the sailing ship, and the flute and trumpet.
More than any other of the Greek goddesses , Athena remains a symbol of civilization, useful knowledge, noble reasoning, logic and wisdom. The goddess Athena reminds us that we can successfully use our intellect and creativity in the pursuit of any goal we choose.