Type of anger

The myth of the birth of Athena Pallas. – The goddess Athena and Erihtony (Erechtheus). – The myth of the dispute between the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon. – Type and distinctive signs of Athena Pallas. – The statue of Athena Pallas by Phidias. – The goddess Athena and the god Eros. – Myth about satire flute Marcia. – Athena-worker: the myth of the Lydian Arahne. – Great Panafine.

Pallas Athena by the ancient Greek sculptor Phidias, copy. NB Under the shield of Athena, Pallas is a snake, one of the symbols of the goddess Athena. <Photos: (Creative Commons license):


The myth of the birth of Athena Pallas. – The goddess Athena and Erihtony (Erechtheus). – The myth of the dispute between the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon. – Type and distinctive signs of Athena Pallas. – The statue of Athena Pallas by Phidias. – The goddess Athena and the god Eros. – Myth about satire flute Marcia. – Athena-worker: the myth of the Lydian Arahne. – Great Panafine.

The myth of the birth of Athena Pallas

One of the most ancient Greek myths tells the following about the origin and birth of the goddess of wisdom. Pallas Athena (in Roman mythology – the goddess Minerva) was the daughter of Zeus (Jupiter) and his first wife, Metis (translated from the ancient Greek language – “meditation”). The goddess Metis predicted that she would have a daughter first, and then a son, and that son would be the master of the universe.

Zeus (Jupiter), frightened by such a prediction, turned to the goddess Gae (Earth) for advice. Gaia advised Zeus to swallow Metis, which he did.

After some time, Zeus (Jupiter) felt a strong headache. Zeus thought that his skull was ready to scatter into pieces. Zeus asked the god Hephaestus (Vulcan) to split his head with an ax and see what was happening there. As soon as Hephaestus fulfilled his request, Pallas Athena, armed and in full bloom of Athena, emerged from the head of Zeus, “the mighty daughter of the mighty father,” as the goddess Athena is commonly called Homer.

The goddess of childbirth Ilifia helps Zeus (sits) to give birth to Athena Pallas from his head. To the right of Zeus: Ilithia, Heracles, Ares. To the left of Zeus: Hephaestus (running), Hera, Poseidon, Apollo. NB A cuckoo flies over the head of the goddess Hera – her symbol; god Poseidon holds a trident; God Apollo plays the lyre.

Several monuments of ancient art (among others – the Parthenon Frieze, which does not exist now), depicted the birth of Pallas Athena.

Pallas Athena is thus the personification of the divine reason and the wisdom of Zeus (Jupiter). Pallas Athena is a strong and warlike goddess, intelligent and judicious. Since the goddess Athena was not born from her mother, but directly from the head of Zeus (Jupiter), all female weaknesses are alien to Athena Pallada. The goddess Athena has a serious, almost masculine character; she is never confused by the excitement of love and passion. Pallas Athena is the eternal virgin, the favorite of Zeus (Jupiter), his like-minded, although sometimes, like, for example, in the Trojan War, the goddess Athena goes against the will of her father.

The Pallas Athena is sensibly and clearly looking at humanity and willingly takes part in all the vital manifestations of people. Pallas Athena is always on the side of the right cause, helps brave heroes to win victories over enemies, is the patroness of Odyssey and Penelope, the leader of Telemachus.

In the goddess Athena, human culture is personified as it were. The goddess Athena invented many useful items, such as: a plow and a rake. Athena taught people to harness oxen and made them bow their necks under the yoke. The myths of ancient Greece believe that Pallas Athena was the first to reconcile a horse and turned it into a pet.

Pallas Athena taught Jason and his companions to build the ship “Argo” and patronized the Argonauts all the while their famous cruise continued.

Pallas Athena is the goddess of war, but she recognizes only prudent war, guided by all the rules of the art of war and having a definite purpose. This Pallas Athena is different from the god of war Ares (Mars), who is pleased with the look of blood and who loves the horrors and turmoil of war.

The goddess Athena is everywhere a strict executor of laws, the patroness and protector of civil rights, cities and harbors. Pallas Athena has a keen eye. The poets of antiquity called the goddess Athena “blue-eyed, light-eyed, and far-sighted”.

Athena Pallada was established by the Areopagus. The goddess Athena was revered as the patroness of musicians, artists and all artisans.

Goddess Athena and Erihtony (Erechtey)

When the goddess Gaia (Earth), having given birth from the god Hephaestus to the son of Erihtoni (otherwise – Erechthey), threw him to the mercy of fate, Pallas Athena picked up Erikhtonia and raised him. According to the Greek myth, Erihtoni was like one half of his torso, namely, his lower part, like a snake.

The goddess Gaia transmits the newborn Erikhtonia (Erechthea) to Athena Pallada. On the left is the god Hephaestus, father of Erikhtonia. God Hephaestus holds blacksmiths. Two goddesses Nicki are flying in the air. On the right is an adult Erikhtony.

The goddess Athena, who was constantly occupied with wars, put the child in the basket and entrusted Erihtonia for the time being to Kekrops’s daughters, forbidding them to open the basket. But two of Kekrops’s daughters, contrary to the advice of the eldest, Pandros, tormented by curiosity, opened a basket with Erikhtoniy and saw a sleeping child entwined with a snake, who immediately stung the curious girls.

Erihtoni was entrusted to the goddess Athena Pandrose, daughter of Kekrops, and grew under her supervision. Wanting to show his gratitude to Pandros and goddess Athena, Erihtoni built a temple in the city of Athens, one half of which was dedicated to Athena Pallada and the other to Pandros.

The myth of the dispute of the goddess Athena with the god Poseidon

When Kekrops founded the city, later called Athens, he could not decide who to choose as the patron saint of the named city – the goddess Athena (Minerva) or the god Poseidon (Neptune). This indecision of king Kekropsa caused a dispute between the gods – Athena and Poseidon.

The ancient Greek sculptor Phidias depicted this dispute on both pediments of the Parthenon (Temple of Athena). Pieces of these gables are now stored in the British Museum.

The god Poseidon and the goddess Athena argue about the protection of Attica.

To reconcile the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon, Kekrops decided to choose the one who invents the most useful item. God Poseidon (Neptune) struck the earth with his trident, and a source of sea water appeared. Then Poseidon made the horse, as if wanting to make it clear that the people whose patron he, Poseidon, would be elected, would become a tribe of navigators and warriors. But the goddess Athena turned the wild horse into a domestic animal, and from the blow of the spear of Athena on the ground an olive tree appeared, covered with fruits, indicating that the people of the goddess Athena would be strong and powerful thanks to agriculture and industry.

The king of Athens Kekrops then turned to the people, asking him to decide which of the gods the people of Athens would like to elect as their patron. The people resorted to universal suffrage, with all the men casting a vote for the god Poseidon, and the women for the goddess Athena. One woman turned out to be more, the goddess Athena won, and the city was dedicated to her. But, fearing the wrath of Poseidon (Neptune), who threatened to devour Athens with its waves, the inhabitants erected a temple and Poseidon. This is how the Athenians at the same time became tillers, navigators and industrialists.

Type and distinguishing features of Athena Pallas

Pallas Athena was the main deity for the Athenians, and the Acropolis was considered its sacred mountain. The ancient cult of the goddess Athena existed for a very long time and stopped only under the influence of Christian teachings.

Many antique coins with the image of the head of Athena Pallas have survived (among the Romans, the goddess Minerva). On one of the ancient coins, the owl is also depicted – the bird of the goddess Athena, its symbol (the owl of Minerva).

Famous scholar Gottfried Muller says that the ideal type of Pallas Athena is the statue of Phidias – Athena Parthenon. The facial features of the statue of Athena Pallas by Phidias became the prototype of all the statues of the goddess Athena among the ancient Greeks and the goddess Minerva among the ancient Romans. The famous sculptor Phidias portrayed Athena Pallas with strict, regular features. Athena Phidias has a high and open brow; long, thin nose; the lines of the mouth and cheeks are somewhat sharp; wide, almost quadrangular chin; eyes downcast; hair, just folded on the sides of the face, and curly slightly over the shoulders.

Pallas Athena (Minerva) is often depicted in a helmet decorated with four horses, showing that the goddess reconciled with the god Poseidon (Neptune), to whom the horse was dedicated.

Goddess Athena always wears aegis. On the auspices of Pallas Athena is placed the head of Medusa Gorgon. Athena is always decorated with jewels, and her outfit is very luxurious.

Type of anger

On one of the antique cameos on Pallas Athena, besides the brilliant aegis, they put on a rich necklace of acorns and earrings in the form of bunches of grapes.

Sometimes on the coins, the helmet of the goddess Athena is decorated with a fantastic serpent-tailed monster. Pallas Athena is always depicted with a helmet on his head, very diverse in shape.

The common weapon of the goddess Athena (Minerva) is a spear, but sometimes she holds the thunder arrows of Zeus (Jupiter) in her hand. Pallas Athena also often holds on her hand a statue of Nika, the goddess of victory.

The artists of antiquity most likely portrayed Athena Pallada. On the most ancient monuments of ancient art, the goddess Athena is depicted with a raised shield and a spear.

The aegis of Pallas Athena, which the goddess always wears, is nothing but the goatskin on which the goddess attached the head of Medusa the Gorgon. Sometimes the aegis replaces the shield of the goddess Athena. When personifying lightning physically, Athena should wear aegis as a hallmark. On the statues of the ancient Greek archaic Athena Pallas uses aegis instead of a shield. In the era of the golden age of ancient Greek art, Athena Pallas wears auspices on his chest.

The head of Medusa the Gorgon is also one of the hallmarks of the goddess Athena and is depicted either on the aegis or on the helmet. The head of Medusa Gorgon was supposed to hint at the horror that took possession of the enemies of Pallas Athena when the goddess appeared before them. In one ancient Roman fresco, discovered in Herculaneum, the goddess Minerva is dressed in peplos, falling on a chiton with coarse and inelegant folds; Minerva closed her left hand with the aegis and is ready to fight.

The statue of Athena Pallas by Phidias

The famous statue of the ancient Greek sculptor Phidias, Athena Parthenon, was carved out of ivory and gold.

The goddess Athena, the sculptor Phidias, stood to his full height, her bosom covered the aegis, and her tunic dropped to her toes. Athena held a spear in one hand, and in the other – a statue of the goddess of victory Nike.

She had a sphinx on her helmet, the emblem of the divine mind. On the sides of the sphinx were two griffins. Above the visor of the statue of Athena, the work of Phidias — eight horses running at full speed — is a symbol of the speed of thought.

Type of anger

The head and hands of the statue of Phidias were ivory, two gems were inserted in the place of the eyes; Gold draperies could be removed at will so that the city of Athens could take advantage of this treasure in the event of any public disaster.

On the outer side of the shield, placed at the feet of the goddess Athena, was depicted the battle of the Athenians with the Amazons, on the reverse side – the struggle of the gods with the giants. The myth of the birth of Pandora was sculpted on the pedestal of the statue of Phidias.

The goddess Minerva of the sculptor Zimart, who was at the exhibition in the Salon of 1855, is a repetition of Phidias’ masterpiece, perhaps accurately and carefully reproduced a copy according to the description of the ancient Greek author Pausanias, which reached us.

The beautiful bronze statue of the goddess Minerva, located in the Turin Museum, is one of the most remarkable and beautiful antique statues preserved to our era.

The goddess Athena and the god Eros

The chaste goddess Athena has never been depicted by ancient artists naked, and if some modern artists present Athena in this form in their works, for example, The Judgment of Paris, this is due to ignorance of ancient traditions.

The goddesses of Athena never touched the arrow of the god Eroth, who always avoided her and left her alone.

The goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus), dissatisfied with the fact that her playful son does not even attempt to injure his arrow of the chaste goddess, showered Eros with reproaches for this.

Eros justifies himself by saying: “I am afraid of Athena, she is terrible, her eyes are sharp-eyed, and her look is courageous and majestic. Every time I dare to go to Athena to touch her with my arrow, she again scares me with her gloomy looks; besides, Athena has such a terrible head on its chest, and in fear I drop my arrows and run away from her shaking ”(Lucian).

Flute marcia

The goddess Athena once found a deer bone, made a flute and began to extract sounds from it, which gave her great pleasure.

Noticing that when she plays, her cheeks swell and her lips bulge ugly, the goddess Athena, not wanting to disfigure her face like that, abandoned her flute, cursing in advance who would find it and play on it.

The flute of Athena was found by the satyr Marsyas and, ignoring the curse of the goddess, he began to play on it and began to praise his talent, causing the very god Apollo to compete with him. Marsyus did not escape the terrible punishment for his disobedience and arrogance.

Athena the Worker: The Lydian Arahne Myth

When the goddess Athena is the patroness of handicrafts and all sorts of female works, she bears the name Athens-working women, or Ergans (in ancient Greek).

The fabric of different fabrics was one of the main industries of the Athenians, but Asian fabrics were always valued higher in terms of fineness and elegance of work. This rivalry between the two countries gave rise to a poetic myth about the rivalry between Arakhna and the goddess Athena.

Arahna the spider. Illustration by Gustave Dore on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, 1860s

Arachne was of common origin. Arahna’s father was a simple dyer from Lydia (a region in Asia Minor), but Arakhna was famous for its art of weaving beautiful and delicate fabrics. Arahna knew how to spin smoothly and quickly, as well as decorate her fabrics with all sorts of embroidery.

General praise so turned Arachne’s head and she began to be so proud of her art that she decided to compete with the goddess Athena, bragging that she could defeat her. The goddess Athena, taking the form of an old woman, came to the proud weaver and began to prove to Arachne how dangerous it was for a mere mortal to challenge the primacy of the goddess. Arahna boldly replied to her that, before the goddess Athena herself, she would be able to prove her superiority to her too.

The goddess Athena accepted this challenge, and they set to work. Athena-Ergana weaved the story of her quarrels with God Poseidon on her machine, and the impudent Arachne depicted various love affairs and transformations of gods on her fabrics. At the same time, the work of Arahna was performed with such perfection that the goddess Athena could not find in her the slightest flaw.

Angry and forgetting that she should be fair, Athena-Ergana, in the heat of anger, hit the weaver Arahna with a canoe on the head. Arachne could not bear such an insult and hanged herself.

The goddess Athena turned Arahna into a spider, which always weaves its thinnest cobwebs.

This myth of ancient Greece points to the superiority of Eastern fabrics: Arachne, Lydian by origin, still won a victory over Athenian Ergana. If Lydian Arahna was punished, not as an employee, but only for her arrogant desire to be with the goddess.

Great Panafine

The holiday, known as the Great Panafine, was established in Athens in honor of Pallas Athena, protector and patroness of this city.

The great Panathinae were undoubtedly the largest and oldest national holiday. The great Panafini were celebrated every four years, and all the Athenians took part in them.

The Great Panafine festivities lasted from the 24th to the 29th of the ancient month of Hecatombon (half of July and August).

The first day of the Great Panafine was devoted to musical competitions that took place in the Odeion, built at the command of Pericles. All kinds of singers, musicians with their various instruments and poets gathered in the Odeon.

Other days of the Great Panathenae were devoted to gymnastics and horse competitions, and the winner was awarded a wreath of olive branches and beautifully painted vessels filled with precious olive oil.

The most solemn part of the Great Panathinae celebration took place on the birthday of the goddess Athena – the 28th day of the month of Hecatombeon. On this day, a procession was held, in which not only all adults but also children took part.

At the head of the procession were the young Athenians, they carried a new dress for the statue of the goddess Athena — the saffron color of peplos. For nine months, all the noble Athenians worked on it, decorating it with all sorts of embroidered and woven patterns. Other Athenian girls followed them, carrying the sacred vessels on their heads. Following the Kanephors, wives and daughters of Athenian freedmen and foreigners appeared – they had no right to carry sacred vessels and could only hold vases and vessels with wine, as well as folding chairs for noble wives.

The venerable old men, luxuriously dressed at the expense of the city, followed them with olive branches in their hands; then – the organizers and managers of the holiday; men with branches and vessels with olive oil; bulls, sacrificed to the goddess Athena; children leading decorated sheep; musicians and singers.

The march was made by magnificent chariots drawn by fours; They were ruled by noble young men and horsemen on beautiful horses, in memory of the fact that Pallas Athena first taught to harness and control horses.

Separate groups of this procession were carved on the pediment and frescoes of the Parthenon by Pheidias, and some of these bas-reliefs have been preserved to this day.

Athena Pallada was dedicated to:

  • olive Tree,
  • the rooster, whose early singing wakes the working people,
  • snake, symbol of mind and deliberation,
  • an owl, from whose penetrating eyes nothing remains hidden in the darkness of the night.

The epithet “sovokaya” gave the ancient Greek poets and the goddess Athena herself.

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