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Greek Mythology and Athena Essay

On the top of Mt. Olympus lived one of the greatest g o d d e s s e s , A t h e n a . A t h e n a w a s k n o w n a s a g o d d e s s o f w a r, w i s d o m a n d a r t s . S h e i s p o r t r a y e d a s s t r o n g , f a i r a n d m e r c i f u l . S h e h e l p e d m a n y w a r r i o r s o n t h e i r j o u r n e y s . S h e w a s g r e a t l y a d m i r e d b y h u m a n s f o r h e r c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o m a n .

A t h e n a w a s a l s o v e r y i n t e l l i g e n t a n d t h o u g h t f u l ; s h e r a r e l y l o s t h e r t e m p e r a n d p u s h e d f o r a s o l u t i o n t h a t w a s b e n e f i c i a l .

A s y o u r e a d o n y o u w i l l f i n d t h a t A t h e n a w a s a g r e a t a s s e t t o t h e O l y m p i a n s a n d h a d f a r m o r e p o s i t i v e a t t r i b u t e s t h a n o t h e r g o d d e s s e s . The birth of Athena was more than an unusual one. Her m o t h e r w a s M e t i s a n d h e r f a t h e r Z e u s . Z e u s r e i g n e d o v e r a l l t h e gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus. It is no wonder that a god this powerful and dominant would need no woman to bear his o f f s p r i n g .

Z e u s w a s t o l d b y h i s m o t h e r a n d F a t h e r t h a t M e t i s w o u l d b a r e c h i l d r e n . Z e u s w a s n o t h a p p y a b o u t t h i s ; h e f e l t i t w o u l d j e o p a r d i z e h i s p o s i t i o n a s r u l e r. W h e n M e t i s w a s a b o u t t o g i v e b i r t h , Z e u s s w a l l o w e d h e r a n d i n t h e p r o c e s s g a i n e d h e r i n t e l l i g e n c e a n d w i s d o m . A t t h e t i m e Z e u s t h o u g h t i t w a s a g o o d i d e a b u t i t w a s n o w c a u s i n g h i m p a i n .

H i s h e a d a c h e b e c a m e s o s e v e r e t h a t h e w o u l d d o a n y t h i n g t o r e l i e v e i t . H e gave permission for another god to hit him in the head with an axe. When he did this, out popped Athena full grown and w e a r i n g a s u i t o f a r m o r . A t h e n a b e c a m e h e r f a t h e r ’s f a v o r i t e . S h e r e m a i n e d h i s a l l y b u t a l s o h i s p r o t e c t o r.

S h e p r o m o t e d h i s i n t e r e s t s a n d s e r v e d a s h i s a d v i s o r. A t h e n a a l s o i n h e r i t e d s o m e i m p o r t a n t t r a i t s f r o m h e r m o t h e r a s w e l l ; w i s d o m a n d j u s t i c e were two of the big ones. A t h e n a w a s t h e g o d d e s s o f w i s d o m a n d w a r . S h e w a s normally depicted holding a spear, but she was known more for h e r r o l e a s m e d i a t o r a n d d i p l o m a t t h a n f o r a c t u a l l y f i g h t i n g i n b a t t l e . H e r d e c i s i o n s w e r e h i g h l y e t h i c a l a n d s e l d o m m o t i v a t e d b y h e r s e l f – i n t e r e s t o r b e l i e f s .

M a n y o f t h e G r e e k m y t h s t e l l tales of her giving help to various gods, goddesses and hero’s a s t h e y w e n t i n t o b a t t l e . A t h e n a h a d g i v e n P e r s e u s h i s m o s t h e l p f u l t o o l t o s l a y M e d u s a , h i s s h i e l d . A n y o n e w h o l o o k e d t h e m o n s t e r d i r e c t l y i n t h e e y e s w o u l d b e t u r n e d t o s t o n e . A f t e r h e b e h e a d e s M e d u s a h e g a v e i t t o A t h e n a t o d e c o r a t e h e r a r m o u r. A l s o o n t h e v o y a g e b a c k f r o m t r o y s h e p r o t e c t e d U l y s s e s . T h e most help she gave though was to Hercules.

She stood by his s i d e a n d w a s a g r e a t c o m f o r t t o h i m . A f t e r h i s p a s s i n g s h e w e l c o m e d h i m i n t o t h e g a t e s o f M t . O l y m p u s . A t h e n a c a m e d o w n f r o m M t . O l y m p u s a n d w a l k e d b e t w e e n t h e t w o a r m i e s a n d m a d e b o t h s i d e s s w e a r t o k e e p p e a c e , s h e d i d t h i s t o p r e v e n t t h e T r o j a n Wa r .

U n f o r t u n a t e l y o n e o f t h e s o l d i e r s w e n t a g a i n s t h i s o a t h a n d l e t l o o s e h i s a r r o w ; t h i s w a s t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e T r o j a n Wa r . A t h e n a e x p r e s s e d h e r a n g e r t o w a r d t h e s o l d i e r b y helping the other side to victory. In one of her most well known adventures Athena took shape of men, women and children to l e a d w a n d e r i n g O d y s s e u s . T h i s a l l o w e d h i m t o r e t u r n h o m e s a f e l y t o h i s f a m i l y a n d c h i l d r e n . Athena is one of the three virgin goddesses, referred to as a v i r g i n b e c a u s e s h e w a s a b l e t o r e m a i n u n s w a y e d b y A p h r o d i t e .

Aphrodite is the goddess of love, marriage and motherhood. M o t h e r l e s s h e r s e l f , A t h e n a u s u a l l y p l a c e d P a t r i a r c h a l principles above motherly bonds. Athena not only gave to the w a r r i o r s b u t t o a l l h u m a n s . H e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s w e r e g i v i n g w i s d o m , i n v e n t i o n s , i n s p i r a t i o n s a n d p r o t e c t i n g t h e A t h e n s . O n e o f h e r g r e a t e s t g i f t s w a s h e r k n o w l e d g e o f t a m i n g h o r s e s , s h e taught the people of Cyrene and word soon spread.

She also c r e a t e d t h e p o t t e r y w h e e l a n d m a d e t h e f i r s t v a s e o n i t . S h e w a s a l s o a g r e a t w e a v e r a n d l o v e d t o d e c o r a t e . S h e w a s a g o d d e s s o f m a n y t a l e n t s a n d a n e x p e r t a r t i s a n . N o b o d y e v e r c a m e c l o s e t o s u r p a s s i n g h e r w o r k a l t h o u g h a y o u n g m o r t a l w o m a n n a m e d A r a c h n e ’ s p u t h e r t o t h e t e s t .

T h e c h a l l e n g e w a s t o s e e w h o w a s t h e b e t t e r w e a v e r. A r a c h n e ’s t a p e s t r y h a d o f f e n d e d h e r g r e a t l y, i t d e p i c t e d Z e u s a s a d u l t e r o u s . A t h e n a r i p p e d t h e t a p e s t r y t o s h r e d s a n d A r a c h n e e v e n t u a l l y h u n g h e r s e l f . O n c e A t h e n a h a d cooled off from what had happened, she transformed the woman i n t o a s p i d e r o u t o f p i t y.

T h e w o m a n w a s n o w a b l e t o w e a v e b e a u t i f u l s p i d e r w e b s f o r e t e r n i t y. In the past Poseidon and Athena had a fight to take over a c i t y i n G r e e c e . To s e t t l e t h e a r g u m e n t , t h e y e a c h h a d t o g i v e a g i f t t o t h e c i t y.

T h e o n e w i t h t h e b e t t e r g i f t w o u l d b e c o m e l e a d e r o f t h e c i t y. P o s e i d o n g a v e a s p r i n g o f w a t e r t o t h e c i t y, b e c a u s e i t w a s s a l t w a t e r i t w a s o f n o u s e t o t h e p e o p l e . A t h e n a g a v e t h e c i t y a n o l i v e t r e e . F r o m t h i s t r e e t h e y c o u l d e a t , m a k e oil and have wood for fire. By ruling of the city, Athena’s gift w a s b e t t e r t h a n P o s e i d o n s . I n h e r h o n o r t h e y n a m e d t h e c i t y A t h e n s .

T h e r e i s a l s o a p a l a c e d e d i c a t e d t o h e r i n A t h e n s . H e r s y m b o l s a r e t h e o w l a n d t h e o l i v e t r e e . T h e o l i v e s , t a m i n g o f t h e h o r s e a n d h e r c r e a t i o n o f t h e p o t t e r y w h e e l w e r e a l l c o n t r i b u t i o n s t h a t w e r e g r e a t l y a d m i r e d . O t h e r w o m e n r a r e l y t o o k t h r e a t t o A t h e n a ; t h e m o s t n o t a b l e e x c e p t i o n t h o u g h w a s h e r c h i l d h o o d f r i e n d P a l l a s .

I n o n e o f t h e s t o r i e s P a l l a s a n d A t h e n a w e r e b o t h t o m b o y s a n d i n s e p a r a b l e , t h e y p r a c t i c e d f i g h t i n g s k i l l s a n d s h a r e d p l a y f u l a d v e n t u r e s . D u r i n g t a r g e t p r a c t i c e , A t h e n a a c c i d e n t a l l y s h o t a n d k i l l e d P a l l a s w i t h a b o w and arrow. So distraught over the loss of her friend, Athena t o o k P a l l a s ’ n a m e a n d a d d e d i t t o h e r s . O f t e n t i m e s s h e w a s r e f e r r e d t o a s P a l l a s A t h e n a , t h i s w a s t o h o n o r h e r f r i e n d .

N o t o n l y d i d A t h e n a ’s d e c i s i o n s d e m o n s t r a t e w i s d o m b u t a l s o c o m p a s s i o n a s w e l l . I n a n o t h e r s t o r y a m a n n a m e d Te i r e s i a s a c c i d e n t a l l y w a l k e d i n o n A t h e n a w h i l e s h e w a s b a t h i n g . T h i s w a s a n a c t t h a t n o r m a l l y w o u l d h a v e b e e n p u n i s h e d b y d e a t h . Athena took pity on him though; she covered his eyes with her hands making the man blind. She gave him the gift of inner s i g h t.

A t h e n a n o r m a l l y p u t p a t r i a r c h a l p r i n c i p l e s a b o v e m a t r i a r c h a l b o n d s . S h e i d e n t i f i e d w i t h t h e p a t r i a r c h y a n d usually supported their side in a dispute. In the first trial of h i s t o r y, A t h e n a c a s t t h e f i n a l v o t e o n a c q u i t t i n g O r e s t e ’ s o f m u r d e r i n g h i s m o t h e r t o a v e n g e h i s f a t h e r ’s d e a t h . S h e w a s p e r s u a d e d b y A p o l l o w h o s a i d a m o t h e r ’s d e a t h w a s o f l e s s i m p o r t a n c e t h a n a f a t h e r. Wo m e n s i m p l y n u r t u r e a s e e d b u t m e n a c t u a l l y p l a n t i t .

M e n a r e v i e w e d a s h i g h e r i m p o r t a n c e t o A t h e n a . M o r e t h a n a n y o f t h e o t h e r g o d d e s s e s A t h e n a r e m a i n s a s y m b o l o f k n o w l e d g e , w i s d o m , l o g i c a n d c i v i l i z a t i o n . A t h e n a r e m i n d s u s t h a t w e c a n s u c c e s s f u l l y u s e o u r i n t e l l e c t a n d c r e a t i v i t y t o r e a c h a n y g o a l s . WORKS CITED: 1. ) http://www. theoi. com/Olympios/AthenaMyths. html 2. ) http://ancienthistory. about. com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/p/Athena. htm 3. ) http://gogreece. about. com/cs/mythology/a/mythathena. htm.


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