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Athena & the Parthenon
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ATHENA PAGE TWO
continued from page one
There are two distinctly different representations of
Athena’s character. In the classic story of the Trojan War, the
Iliad, by the poet Homer, she is a fierce and ruthless warrior
goddess, who takes pleasure in war and fighting.
In the Odyssey and various other poetry she is still very
powerful, but only fights to defend the State. She was the
embodiment of wisdom, purity and reason, as well as the patron
of the handicrafts and sciences and agriculture.
Her contributions to society were manifold: She gave mortals the
bridle allowing them to tame and use Poseidon’s gift to man,
which was horses.
She also invented the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the
plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot.
Athena was said to have invented the flute in Libya. It is
alleged that when the hero Perseus had cut off the head of the
snake-haired monster Medusa, her sisters Stheno and Euryale
loudly lamented her death.
The plaintive cries, which issued forth from the mouths of the
hissing serpents which surrounded the Gorgon sisters' heads,
made an eerie and distinctive sound. Athena is said to have
imitated these sounds on a reed, thus crafting the flute.
Of the three virgin goddesses -- Athena, Artemis and Hestia --
she was chief among them and was called Parthenos, the Maiden.
To honor her the ancient Greeks built at Athens a splendid
temple called the Acropolis, with its centerpiece consisting of
a temple to Athena called the Parthenon.
Athena was perhaps the most recognizable of the gods. She was
always depicted with her unmistakable helmet and the
Because she was Zeus’ favorite she was allowed to use his
weapons and armor, including the awful aegis, his buckler and
even his thunderbolts. Her shield was also very distinctive:
after the Greek hero Perseus decapitated the gorgon Medusa,
Athena affixed its snake-filled head to her shield.
Indeed Athena was a brave warrior and she was the lone deity to
stand her ground when Typhon attacked Olympus. Typhon was the
largest, most dangerous, and most grotesque of all creatures.
So frightening and intimidating was Typhon that when he rushed
Mount Olympus all of the gods ran off to Egypt and hid
themselves by assuming the forms of various animals.
Only brave Athena stood firm, and she shamed and goaded Zeus
into action. Zeus struck Typhon with a thunderbolt and used
Uranus' castrating sickle to wound the enormous creature.
Typhon retreated to Mount Casius, where he and Zeus resumed
their struggle, hurling mountains at one another, which resulted
in Typhon being crushed beneath what is now known as Mount
Mount Olympus and the reign of Zeus was saved thanks to Athena.
Even though she was as modest as Artemis and Hestia, the other
virgin goddesses, Athena was far more generous. A man called
Teiresias chanced upon Athena while she was taking a bath and
she was startled to realize that he had entered the room and
This was strictly forbidden by the Olympians, and normally the
transgressor would be put to death, but Athena was more
Not wanting to kill Teiresias for his folly, she laid her hands
over his eyes and blinded him, but gave him inward sight so that
Teiresias became one of the most well-known oracles in Greece.
Thus, in her own way, Athena turned the punishment into a
Athena was fond of many Greek heroes and assisted them in their
quests, helping many of the Greek superheroes attain their
goals. The list of these magnificent heroes includes:
She even personally went up to Mount Pelion to cut down the
trees to build the Argonauts' boat, called the Argo, as those
Greek heroes embarked on a voyage to reclaim the Golden Fleece.
Athena also assisted Jason and the Argonauts throughout their
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