This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Athena: A Reflection of My Being

For just as our many names and attributes have been bestowed upon those in our privilege, they for their part have rejoiced and constantly remembered us whilst paying continual and undying homage to both us, and themselves in becoming true to our likeness. In appreciation of our gifts and protection, they have bestowed upon us many honors, including the now envy of all other cities. Rising out of the ashes of their final victory enabled through our grace over the Persians, they constructed the monumental Parthenon commemorating our joint victory in all its glory; giving us a place we can proudly call our own and a home for our earthly possessions (Pomeroy et al 306 & 307).

19th century Victorian engraving of an ancient view of the Parthenon, Athens, Greece 

“The tamiai (treasurers), responsible for keeping track of the valuable ritual objects and dedications… have in their possessions gold and ritual silver objects, armor, … furniture, several lyres, and Persian daggers inlaid with gold”, some of which are used in festivals and returned there after, as well as others allotted as possessions of our very own (Larson 43). Also too, as a reminder to the generations to follow, noble and worthy men such as Callicrate have inscribed my name and placed artifacts to my dedication (Lefkowitz et al 282) across various parts of the world in a show of appreciation and respect for the various gifts we have so generously bestowed. Likewise, in homage to the protection which we have offered them, styled from ivory and gold benignly and protectively watching out over the city with spear and shield in hand, stands a permanent testament to their faith in me and the victories we have helped them achieve. For it is they who understand the wisdom and protection that only we can provide through the guise of my guiding hand, and the value of the countless gifts and lessons we have bestowed upon them. Although there may be other immortals at other times that they show patronage to, I must confess to seeing revelry amidst the eyes of my bothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, when it is seen from upon high the extent that those dear Athenians truly do revere our protection, wisdom, and deeds. Just as we are the favorite child of our father Zeus, so too it seems, we have become by virtue of our metis and its civilizing attributes for man favorite patron within the city that bears our name.

Acropolis of ancient Athens crowned by the Parthenon and a statue of Athena

For it is in Athens, that a most glorious and “major festival in [our] honor, the Panathenaia, provide[s a time for celebrating our achievements, as] the whole of the population gather[s] together in a show of unity honoring [not only us, but] also themselves as a collective ” whole (Deacy 77). For in the human-scaled peplos presented to the olivewood statue bearing our image upon the day of our birthday, Hekatombaion 28, “the holiest object given to [us] each year” (Deacy 77) pays significant homage to our glory as wise protectress and teacher of their city. Utilizing beauty in a manner befitting our craft which so long ago, through our creative skill adorned the dress and vale of Pandora’s beautiful image (Budin 258-9), those lucky few Arrephoroi who reside with me on the Acropolis commencing from the fall festival of the Chalkeia nine months previous (Larson 45), and of who I am so very fond of, show us great justice in their craftiness of weaving skill (Fantham et al 84) through their portrayal of the “battle between [us] Olympians against the Titans… featuring [both the images of Zeus and I] as the saviors of the divine order” (Price 33). Throughout the festival, and included within the benefits of the procession, the people not only have come to understand our greatness in all that we have done for them, but likewise, are taught of the mercy that belief in us has granted. “Cattle brought with rent from land sacred to [us], once they reach the Acropolis, [are] sacrificed on the great altar of [ours] in front of the Parthenon, with the finest reserved on [our] nearby altar of Nike ‘Victory’…[and are then accordingly] distributed there to various civic officials and participants in the sacrifice: the prutaneis, the chief magistrates, the treasurer, the sacrificial officials, the board of generals and division commanders, and also those Athenians who participated in the procession and maidens who acted as kanwphoroi (Vessel Bearers)” (Price 33). Although this is a wonderful festival in paying homage to us, it is on every fourth year that their patronage of our craft really shines though during the Great Panathenaia, during which time they present “a far greater tapestry … as big as a sail” (Hurwit 17). For this is the time when the festival is “elevated into an even greater celebration incorporating the member cities of the empire into the communal celebration … turn[ing] the summit … [in appreciation for us] into one of the greatest … sites of the [known] world” (Deacy 108-9).

People in a panathenaic procession bring a new robe to Athena along with many other gifts.

As wonderful as these celebrations are for both me and my people, it is comforting to know that these are not the only times that I am respected and revered at the various monuments constructed in my honor throughout the world. For although the Athenian mortals have recognized the value of their worship upon me “primarily as goddess of the state as a whole, giving victory in wars and providing and protecting the precious olive trees, as well as establishing the model for Athenian law courts,… many of the hundreds of dedications to [us] on the Acropolis and in the Parthenon [are also] made by individuals” (Mikalson 81) who rever us and our deeds. “Family groups, husband, wife, and their children” also pay regular visits to our shrines, and understand that proper worship and sacrifice of the family group as a whole, will, through my grace, benefit all of those concerned (Dillon 31-2). Likewise, many adorn various sites such as my Hygeia upon the Acropolis on a regular basis asking for our protection and grace in assuring good health and mental well being by bestowing gifts in the form of word and artifact (Hurwit 16). Likewise, many a skillful weaver, “whether woman who preformed their task as domestic laborers, … or those who did it as their trade, … dedicated their implements to [us] and pray[ed] for enhanced prosperity, [even] in the occasion of their retirement” (Deacy 51). The Athenians also pay homage to our gifts in other grand and luxurious festivals such as the Chalkeia, festival of Smiths, in which they remember that it was Hephaestus and I, that are responsible for “enabling mankind to become civilized, [through our teaching of men the] glorious crafts throughout the world; men who previously dwelt in caves and mountains like wild beasts (Deacy 53). For I am truly honored to have such faithful and noble patrons who in their effort to uphold my grace of genius and protection against life’s unpredictable elements will go to such lengths in trying to understand and keep our favor.

In ancient times, the Parthenon in Athens was home to a giant statue of the Goddess Athena

Just as “a heroes personal relationship to [myself] in particular is key to his greatness” (Louden 167), those mortals have truly come to understand that brute force and strength throughout history alone wrought not their greatness, but rather, the divine gifts that we have bestowed through our molding of civilization has become key to their success. For imbedded within the metis of our so subtle sublimely created civilization, together with them we have stood strong in the face of the unpredictable and natural danger abound, progressing with accordance to the divine righteousness embedded within the ordering of the very cosmos themselves. Enabled by the advancement and skill through our tekhe, we have propagated through the spreading of our favor and wisdom, the very essence of man, enhancing future generations progression on an unthinkable scale. For I hope that they never forget, like all other creatures, that although they originated from within nature, it was the deliverance that was granted so long ago through the endowment of our metis that enabled them over all the others, through their protective city walls, and their inexhaustible potential of advancement over the raw primitive natural world, to succeed where others have failed. It is though us and our countless interventions that they have been enabled to surpass the unthinkable, not only living within, but able to manipulate and control the very nature that begot their being. Through us and our giftly manifestations within themselves, the world has become endowed with tekhe, metis, and skill. I trust that our patrons will never forget our gifts to them and continue in our favor by honoring us proper of mother of civilization we have become.

 

Details of the shield of Athena Pallos in the Parthenon, Nashville, Tennessee

Works Referenced:

Budin, Stephanie Lynn. The Ancient Greeks: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, California: ABCCLIO. 2004.

Deacy, Suzan. Athena. New York: Routledge. 2008. 

Fantham, Elaine, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen, Sarah B. Pomeroy, and H. Alan Shapiro. Women in the Classical World. New York: Oxford UP. 1994.

Hurwit, Jeffrey M.. The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archeology From the Neolithic Era to the Present. New York: Cambridge UP. 1999.

Larson, Jennifer Lynn. Ancient Greek Cults. New York: Routledge. 2007.

Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Woman’s Life in Greece and Rome. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP. 2005.

Mikalson, Jon D. Ancient Greek Religion. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 2005.

Pomeroy, Sarah B., Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. New York: Oxford UP. 2008.

Price, S.R.F.. Religions of the Ancient Greeks. New York: Cambridge UP. 1999.


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