Who is Athena?
Athena is a Ancient Greek goddess and patron of Athens. She also played a huge role in the life of the women of Sparta and Athens. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and craft, however, known for her relationship with war strategy. Although she is the goddess of war strategy she is not easily angered and it is for that reason that she is one of the more powerful Greek gods/goddesses. Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis. Zeus feared that their kids would over power their parents so he ate Metis with the understanding that if she was eaten there would be no kids. He was wrong and Athena was born from the head of Zeus.
The image above depicts the Hephaestus the blacksmith of the gods splitting Zeus’s head with an axe and Athena coming out. What is particular about this is when Athena was born she was fully equipped and ready for battle.
The parthenon stands atop of the Athenian acropolis this structure is dedicated to Athena who is the Patron goddess of Athens.
Some of them symbols associated with Athena are an owl, olive branch, and a war helmet.
Athena and Medusa:
Medusa was a beautiful young lady who practiced the ways of Athena. Medusa was a priestess in Athena’s temple, she did this by taking a vow of chastity. Poseidon fancied Medusa and ends up raping her ultimately braking her vow of chastity. Athena knows this and subjects Medusa to the fate of being turned into a gorgon.
(The Origins of Medusa: Emily Allard, Youtube)
There are multiple ways that the ancient societies honor and celebrate these gods and goddesses, for example the Panathenaic games. These games included many events from music and poetry competitions to boxing and wrestling, much like the Olympics today except for the arts. However, the most prestigious of these games was the annual chariot race. . These athletic events took place in the panathenaic stadium, which is still in use today and hosted the modern Olympic games in 1870,1875,1896,1906, and 2004. Throughout the games there are various ceremonies that would honor Athena which were more important than the games themselves. To start the festival off the Athenian women would make a special robe (also known as the peplos) which was put on the statue of Athena, and as the end of the festivities grew near there where large sacrifices made to Athena known as hekatombe (which translates to the sacrifice of a hundred oxen). After the oxen were sacrificed, the meat was used in a giant feast at the end of the games.
(mythical contest between Athena & Poseidon & the Panathenaic games of Athens: CelebrateGreece.com, Youtube)
The Trojan War:
What is the Trojan war:
The trojan war took place from approximately 1260-1250 BCE. The myth has the war starting over a beauty contest between; Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. However, some scholars believe that the war was really waged over the trade route that was split threw Greece and the Trojans. The beauty contest started when Eris gave Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite a golden apple also known as the Apple of Discord. Zeus then told the goddesses to take the apple to Paris, the obliged. Once they reached Paris he could not deem one the finest so it turned into a competition of bribery no longer beauty.
Athena – offered wisdom, skill in battle, and the abilities of the greatest warriors
Hera – offered him political power and control of all of Asia
Aphrodite – offered him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world
The Judgement of Paris – Peter Paul Rubens c. 1638-1639
After hearing what the goddesses had to offer Paris chose Aphrodite and the most beautiful women in the world. Aphrodite obliged with her proposal and made Helen and Paris fall in love. This works if everyone is single, however, Helen was married to King of Sparta Menelaus. After Helen and Paris had run off to Troy the news was spiralling around Sparta and Greece. Agamemnon king of Mycenae and brother of Menelaus heard the news and was outraged. he then led an army to Troy and held the city of Troy under a 10 year siege. The siege was not getting the desired results So Agamemnon with the help of Athena, and Odysseus and some others made the plan of the Trojan Horse.
The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy – Domenico Tiepolo (1773)
The Trojan Horse was a fool proof plan made by army elites with the help of Athena (the goddess of craft, and war strategy) the finished building a massive wooden horse and left it outside the city of Troy to signify the end of the war. When night fell the Greeks pretended to sail home leaving the wooden horse and a sign of victory for Troy. the next day the soldiers of Troy pulled the massive horse inside the impenetrable wall and the celebration started. When night came the entire city of Troy was either sleeping or in a drunken stupor. The Greek soldiers that where hiding in the horse snuck out and opened the gates letting the rest of the Greek army in. Once the army was inside Troy they slaughtered the entire city keeping the women and children for themselves or to be sold as slaves. Helen was also escorted back to her original husband Menelaus.
(Trojan horse clip from “Troy” HD – Anthony Vance, Youtube)
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