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Athena and the Contest for Athens
Athena : Page 1
Another myth that reveals Athena's nature and importance is found in the story of her contest with Poseidon for the city of Athens. According to the legend, both deities wanted Athens as the site of their primary sanctuary. In order to settle the duel in his favor, Poseidon created a spring from which salt water flowed. However, Athena responded by conjuring up an olive tree on the Athenian Acropolis, and this second divine gift was judged by the people to be the more useful (and indeed, Greeks both ancient and modern are credited with the cultivation of some of the best olives in the world). This contest was immortalized on that magnificent Athenian monument, the Parthenon, a temple that was dedicated to the goddess Athena. The myth appeared on one of the pediments of the temple, while the birth of the goddess was depicted on the other.
More Myths of Athena
Myths of Athena and her interactions with mortals are quite numerous in Greek literature, poetry, drama, and art. One intriguing example is the tale of Arachne
and her challenge to the goddess who was considered the patron of crafts. The story itself demonstrates the ancient Greek belief that one ought not compare oneself with the gods, lest a deity should suddenly materialize and punish the offending mortal. This comparison to the gods even had a term: it was hubris
, which means, roughly, excessive pride. There are indeed many other stories in Greek mythology in which a human is punished by the gods for his or her arrogance, including several that involve Athena herself. For it appears that even the gods were not immune to those human traits of envy, desire, and jealousy. One of the myths that illustrates this fact well deals with the ill-fated Medusa, who claimed that she was more beautiful than Athena. Bad idea, Medusa....
Athena in Art History
| For pictures and information about Athena in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
Who's Who in Classical Mythology
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters from Classical myth and legend.
The stories of Classical myth come to life in Bulfinch's book. This edition also features legends from other cultures.
Do you have a specific question about Greek, Roman, and Celtic mythology? Then try the Mythography forum!