Of the numerous derivations proposed for the title of Athene (or Athena) none is de facto passable. The Sanskrit vadh (to strike) and adh (hill) have been urged, in addition to the Greek for ‘flower’ and ‘nurse’! The poetic epithet Pallas often joined to the title Athene comes both from the Greek ‘to strike’ or extra in all probability from the Greek ‘lady’.
Athene Character and Functions
Although sure students have seen in Athene a personification of moisture, analogous to the Hindu Sarasvati, it appears extra possible that she was in origin a storm- and lightning-goddess. Hence her regular attribute, the aegis – which in primitive instances signified the stormy night time – and her epithet as a goddess ‘of the good eyes’. She would thus be analogous to the Vedic goddess Vach. But Athene in a short time misplaced this meteorological character.
Her features had been many: she was honored among the many nice divinities in her high quality of warrior- goddess, as goddess of the humanities of peace and as goddess of prudent intelligence.
To Athene the warrior – her oldest manifestation – belong the epithets Promachos (‘who fights in the foremost ranks’) and Alalcomeneis (‘who repulses the enemy’). She was the protectress of cities and the guardian of acropolises.
The pacific Athene protected numerous industries. She was preeminently the Ergane, or working lady, and was the patron of architects and sculptors, in addition to of spinners and weavers. She additionally protected horses (Hippia) and oxen (Boarmia). The olive tree owed to her its fruit. Her knowledge, which earned her the epithet Pronoia (the Foreseeing), made her the counsellor-goddess (Boulaia) and the goddess of the Assembly (Agoraia). Athene’s emblem was the owl.
Though she was honoured all through Greece Athene was the article of an especial cult in Athens. On the Acropolis she had, besides the Parthenon, two different temples: the temple of Athene Nike and the Erechtheum.
The chief festivals of the cult of Athene had been: the Arrephoria, in the course of which two little women of noble household, from seven to eleven years previous, descended from the Acropolis to deposit in an underground chamber close to the sanctuary of Aphrodite mysterious objects which they carried in a basket; the Scirophoria, when monks and priestesses walked in solemn procession below an unlimited parasol (sciron); and eventually the Panathenaea which dated from the times of Theseus and consisted of a solemn procession to the Acropolis in which was carried to the goddess a peplos made by probably the most expert workmen in Athens. Taking half weren’t solely monks and magistrates but in addition women carrying baskets, previous males bearing olive branches and younger males on horseback. During the Panathenaea had been held races, gymnastic video games, regattas and contests of music, singing and dancing.
The oldest representations of Athene had been the palladia. Originally the palladia had been stones which had been mentioned to have fallen from the sky and to which protecting energy was attributed. Later these stones had been changed by statues in wooden (xoana) which had the identical celestial origin. In them the goddess was depicted along with her physique sheathed in tight draperies, and in her arms she held a defend and spear. The most celebrated statue of the warrior Athene was that of the Parthenon, the work of Phidias. The goddess, standing, wore a protracted chiton; her head was helmeted, her breast lined with the aegis, her proper hand rested in opposition to a spear and in her left hand she held a winged victory.
The Birth of Athene
When Zeus swallowed his spouse Metis she had been about to give delivery to a baby. Shortly afterwards Zeus was tortured by an insupportable headache. To treatment him Hephaestus – some mentioned Prometheus – cut up open his cranium with a bronze axe and from the gaping wound, shouting a triumphant cry of victory, sprang Athene – ‘absolutely armed and brandishing a pointy javelin’. At the sight all of the Immortals had been struck with astonishment and crammed with awe. ‘Great Olympus was profoundly shaken by the sprint and impetuosity of the brilliant-eyed goddess. The earth echoed with a horrible sound, the ocean trembled and its darkish waves rose…’
In Crete they mentioned that the goddess had been hidden in a cloud and that it was by placing this cloud together with his head that Zeus had induced Athene to emerge. The occasion was supposed to have taken place close to Cnossus beside a stream, the Triton: whence the epithet Tritogeneia (born of Triton) usually given to Athene. It was additionally defined by making her the daughter of Poseidon and of Lake Tritonis. Finally some mentioned that Athene’s father was the large Pallas whom she had killed as a result of he wished to ravish her. But these numerous relationships had been doubtful and it was typically agreed that Athene was the daughter of Zeus, engendered by the god himself. This delivery, in which she had performed no half, infuriated Hera who, in reprisal, gave unassisted delivery to the monster Typhon. Athene was Zeus’ favorite baby. His desire for her was marked and his indulgence in the direction of her so excessive that it aroused the jealousy of the opposite gods.
“Thou hast fathered,’ says Ares to Zeus, ‘a rash and silly daughter who delights solely in responsible acts. All the opposite gods who reside on Olympus obey thee and every of us submits to thy will. But she, thou by no means curbest neither by phrase nor deed; she does as she pleases.’
Athene, the Warrior Goddess
The method in which Athene made her first look revealed her warlike proclivities. And, certainly, she delighted above all in battle. We have seen her participating in the warfare in opposition to the giants, killing Pallas and hurling her chariot in opposition to Enceladus whom she lastly crushed below the island of Sicily. We discover her once more, equally belligerent and ardent, in the battles which raged beneath the ramparts of Troy. Not happy with stimulating the passion of the Greeks – whom she favoured -she entered the skirmish herself. She placed on her head a helmet of gold with jutting crest ‘huge sufficient to cowl the foot-troopers of 100 cities’.
Over her shoulder she slung the aegis which she had long-established, in accordance to some, from the pores and skin of the large Pallas or which – as was extra typically held – was created from the cover of the goat Amaltheia. Zeus had used it for the primary time throughout the warfare with the Titans and afterwards introduced it to his daughter. It was a type of cuirass or breastplate, fringed and bordered with snakes and bearing in the centre the horrifying head of the Gorgon. Thus armed, Athene mounted on to the chariot of Diomedes, seized the whip and reins herself, and flung the horses in opposition to Ares, whom she stretched on the bottom with a blow of her spear.
The reminiscence of Athene’s warlike prowess was perpetuated in Libya in annual festivals throughout which women, divided into two camps, would stage a livid battle with sticks and stones. Athene, Protectress of Heroes. Herself a warrior, Athene protected the courageous and valorous. When Hercules, a sufferer of Hera’s hostility, undertook his arduous labours Athene stood at his facet to assist and luxury him. It was she who gave him the brazen cymbals whose sound frightened the birds of Lake Stymphalus. It was she who escorted him when he introduced Cerberus from the underworld.
Finally it was she who, after his demise, welcomed him on the edge of Olympus. And so, when Hercules received the golden apples of the Hesperides. he provided them in homage to this tutelary goddess. In the identical method Athene additionally guided Perseus on his expedition in opposition to the Gorgons. As the hero dared not look into the terri fying face of the Medusa she guided his arm in order that he may strike the monster. In gratitude Perseus afterwards gave Athene the Gorgon’s head which she placed on her defend. Athene’s half in the adventures of Perseus was so energetic that sure traditions say that she herself killed the Medusa by placing her throughout her sleep.
This concept gave rise to a number of legends; for example, that the battle between Athene and the Gorgon was the results of a magnificence contest; and that the goddess gathered up the blood of her sufferer and made a present of it both to Asclepius or to Erichthonius – blood which had issued from the left vein introduced demise, blood from the best vein restored life.
Athene was additionally kindly disposed in the direction of Bellerophon: she appeared to him in a dream and gave him a golden bridle, thanks to which he was ready to tame the horse Pegasus.
Finally she protected Odysseus efficiently in opposition to all of the perils which assailed him on his return from Troy, and in the guise of the sage Mentor she guided younger Telemachus throughout his efforts to discover his father once more.
On all these events when Athene got here to the help of heroes it was as a result of they had been worthy of her esteem, not due to any amorous attraction. Athene was a placing exception to Olympian society due to her absolute chastity. In spite of calumny and insinuations about supposed relations with Helios, Hephaestus and even Hercules, her coronary heart remained insensitive to the pangs of affection and she or he defended her virginity fiercely. Woe to anybody who wounded her modesty!
One day when she was bathing with the nymph Chariclo, Teire-sias by probability beheld her. He was responsible of not more than involuntary indiscretion. Athene, nonetheless, punished him by depriving him of his sight. In spite of her companion’s plea for pity she refused to revoke her resolution, however to soften the harshness of the punishment she conferred upon the sad Teiresias the present of foretelling the long run.
Hephaestus grew to become enamoured of Athene. One day when the goddess got here to see him about making a swimsuit of armour for her he tried to violate her. Athene fled, pursued by the limping god.
He caught up along with her, however she defended herself so successfully that Hephaestus was unable to accomplish his prison design and, as an alternative, scattered his seed on the earth, which shortly afterwards gave delivery to a son, Erichthonius. The baby was discovered by Athene, who introduced him up unknown to the opposite gods. She enclosed the toddler in a basket which she confided to the daughters of Cecrops, forbidding them to open it. One of the sisters, Pandrosos, obeyed; the opposite two, Herse and Aglauros, couldn’t management their curiosity. But the second they opened the basket they fled in terror; for across the toddler a serpent was coiled. They had been stricken with insanity by Athene, and flung themselves off the highest of the Acropolis. Erichthonius grew to maturity and have become king of Athens, the place he established the solemn cult of Athene.
The Quarrel between Athene and Poseidon
Previously the goddess had already proven explicit benevolence to the land of Athens. In the times of King Cecrops a dispute had arisen between her and Poseidon for the possession of Attica. To affirm his rights Poseidon struck the rock of the Acropolis together with his trident and a salt water spring gushed forth. According to one other custom it was a horse which appeared below Poseidon’s trident. Athene, in her flip, induced an olive tree to sprout on the Acropolis, a tree which could possibly be seen in the time of Pericles, nonetheless alive in spite of getting been burned by the Persians throughout the invasion of Xerxes. Asked to settle the dispute the gods, on the proof of Cecrops, pronounced in favour of Athene.
The Gifts of Athene
Athene was as benevolent in peace as she was redoubtable in warfare, and rendered precious service to mankind. She taught the people of Cyearene the artwork of taming horses. She confirmed Erichthonius how to harness the primary warfare chariots. She was current whereas Jason’s companions had been constructing the ship Argo. Her ability was revealed in the humblest handicrafts: she invented the potter’s wheel and made the primary vases. But above all she excelled in lady’s work. The artwork of weaving fabric and adorning it with great embroidery had no secrets and techniques from her. The Immortals relied on her ability and it was she who embroidered Hera’s veil. She was jealous of her accomplishments and allowed nobody to surpass her.
In Lydia there lived a lady named Arachne who was famend for her ability in dealing with needle and spindle. One day she dared to challenge the goddess to compete along with her. Athene arrived in the guise of an previous lady and requested Arachne to withdraw her impious challenge. Arachne refused. Athene reassumed her divine kind and accepted the challenge. Arachne directly drew threads across her loom and with crafty hand guided the shuttle by way of the taut netting. As a topic, she had chosen to weave the loves of the gods. When she had completed she submitted her work to Athene for examination.
The goddess tried in useless to uncover any imperfection in it. Furious at her failure and unwilling to admit defeat, Athene modified Arachne right into a spider and condemned her eternally to spin, and to draw from her personal physique the thread with which to weave her net. Although Athene’s actions had been mainly involved with helpful work she was not averse to creative creation. Certain traditions originating in Boeotia attributed to her the invention of the flute. They mentioned that the goddess had considered blowing right into a stag’s horn, pierced with holes, in order to imitate the plaintive whistling sound made by the Gorgon when Perseus minimize its throat. But in Athens it was mentioned that Athene had not persevered along with her musical efforts as a result of the Olympians had laughed at her when she blew out her cheeks and pursed her lips. So she had contemptuously tossed the flute apart and pronounced a curse in opposition to any one who picked it up. The satyear Marsyas, who dared to take possession of the instrument, was cruelly punished for his imprudence.
Athene additionally at instances crammed the function of goddess of health: everybody knew how the architect Mnesicles who, whereas engaged on the development of the Propylaea, had fallen and was in hazard of demise, had been miraculously healed by Athene who was known as for that reason Hygieia. Athene prolonged her safety not solely to people but in addition to complete cities. She was symbolised by the Palladia or statues of herself which had, it was claimed, fallen from heaven. The possession of a palladium was a pledge of safety.
Athens guarded one jealously in the Erechtheum. When Danaus fled from Egypt he was cautious not to neglect his palladium which he carried to Lindus in the isle of Rhodes. The most celebrated palladium was that of Troy which Zeus had introduced to King Dardanus. According to others it had been made by Athene herself: heartbroken at having by accident killed younger Pallas, her playmate and the the daughter of Tritonis, her foster-father, Athene carved from a tree trunk a statue reproducing the options of Pallas which she left with Zeus. Later Electra, whom Zeus seduced, took refuge behind this palladium. Zeus tossed it away and it fell on the land of Ilium, the place Ilus had a temple constructed for it. When the Greeks laid siege to Troy they realised that they’d by no means be victorious as long as town retained its palladium. Diomedes and Odysseus due to this fact determined to steal the dear idol, and its theft unfold discouragement among the many Trojans. It was mentioned, to make certain, that Dardanus had taken the precaution of exposing to the trustworthy solely a replica of the palladium, and had rigorously hid the unique in the adytum – or innermost sanctuary – of the temple. Thus it was the reproduction that the Greeks had stolen. As for the real palladium, it was taken after the autumn of Troy to Italy by Aeneas. But it didn’t stay there. After many vicissitudes it was introduced again to Amphissa in Locris, the place it could possibly be seen and honored by all.