Thursday, May 21, 2009
Here is a recent paper done by Michelle for one of her classes. She received a high grade for her effort. Kudos to Michelle! She gave us permission to post her paper here. No changes have been made. Michelle Albert English 231 / Section 801 Dr. Carabas Research Paper: Athena The Greeks warrior goddess is Athena and is known as Minerva to the Romans. She is the daughter of Zeus and she protector her favorite war heroes and city. Athena’s city, Athens, is where her biggest temple resides. Athena’s shrine is one of the most seen landmarks in the world and the temple still stands today. The goddess of war has appeared in many well known Greek writings; her most famous of all were Homer’s epics The Iliad and Odyssey. She fought in the war between the immortals and the giants. Athena has appeared in many other well known stories after her strong roles in Homer’s great epics. To the Greeks though Athena is the most well known and cherished goddesses of Greek literature. To start at any beginning I will start with the birth of the Athena. Athena was known to have one of the most peculiar births for Greek immortals. The reason for this is Athena was born from Zeus himself; the only other god to be born in this way was Dionysus. There are some alterations of her birth but the stories always follow the original. According to Apostolos N. Athanassakis in his translation of Hesiod’s Theogony, while Metis was pregnant with Athena Zeus ate her. Zeus did this because Metis was to give birth to a son that would rival Zeus (lines 886-900). According to Veronica Ions though, while Athena was inside of her father head he had a violent headache. Hephaestus came with an axe and split Zeus’s head open out sprang Athena fully armed (41). I believe this is how Athena is known as the goddess of wisdom, she gets her traits from Metis who was known to be intelligent; she also came from Zeus’s head. She may be associated with the owl because the owl is known to be a symbol of wisdom. Some early history of Athena’s was found in the Minoan’s culture. She didn’t have the same name but they also had a warrior goddess that protected their people. To the Greeks Athena was always pictured as a goddess of war and a virgin. According to Karl Kerenyi, some of Athena’s earliest worshippers were the Minoans that resided in Crete. They saw her as a serpent holding goddess and she has been seen in some ancient Minoan artwork. Athena has also been traced to the Mycenean times as an armed protector of their land. It wasn’t until she became a Greek goddess that Athena received her lance and shield (Kerenyi 7). Homer, a Greek poet, portrays her as a goddess of war and a protector of her favorite war heroes in his epics. In Theogony, Hesiod shows her as a great warrior: “Then from his head he himself bore grey-eyed Athena / weariless leader of armies / . . . / who stirs men to battle and is thrilled by the clash of arms” (Athanassakis lines 924-926). Athens is named after their goddess Athena and there are a few stories surrounding how she became the goddess of Athens. There is a fable of mythical king of Athens that made Athena their main goddess to worship. It was during his reign that the contest between Athena and Poseidon occurred. Marilena Carabatea explains that Kekrops is the mythical king of Athens who sprung from the soil of Attica. Kekropes is pictured in Athenian artwork as a creature from the waist up of a man and from the waist down of a snake (84). Carabetea continues to explain that some Athenians believe they are descendents of this mythical king. It was during the rule of Kekropes that it is said that Athena and Poseidon competed for the title of patron to the city of Athens (85). According to Roy Willis, Athena and Poseidon were also fighting for the area of Attica around Athens. To decide who should win, Athena and Poseidon brought one gift each to the Athenians. The immortal that gave the best gift will be awarded to protect their city (Wills 136). Willis continues to explain that Poseidon created a spring when he hit his trident on a rock at the Acropolis. Athena touched the same spot and an olive tree appeared. Athenians found the olive as a great resource and made her the goddess of their city. The olive became a valued substance to the Athenians because its oil provides a function for cooking, perfume and creating light (Willis 36). According to Thomas B. Allen, the Athenians would pay their taxes in olive oil. They would also give olive oil to the gods in rituals; they use it as butter for their bread and make soap from it (52). Athena was loved so much by the Athenians that they built her an elegant temple for her to be worshipped in. It took them many years to build it but the Parthenon is one of the most famous temples because of its architecture and artwork. The reason for the fabulous artwork was because a sculptor was hired for the job of an architect. According to Lionel Casson, during the time of 450 to 429 B.C.E. Pericles acted as an advisor of Athens. Pericles hired a sculptor, Phidias, to oversee the construction of Athena’s Parthenon; the Parthenon means “The Virgin Athena” (54-56). “The sculptures remained intact until the sixth century A.D. when the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church” (Casson 55). Casson continues to explain that when the Parthenon was converted to Christian church is when most of its destruction occurred (Casson 64-65). In Hesiod’s Theogony mortals were not created until Zeus’s reign. Zeus didn’t create the first mortals. He always hated the idea of them, so to spite Zeus Prometheus created the first mortals with the help of Athena. According to Athanassakis translation of Theogony, after Prometheus tricked Zeus with a fake offering Zeus desired to do evils to mortal man. Zeus withheld the power of fire for mortal man; so they would be unable to cook their food and eventually starve. Prometheus stole fire from the gods in a fennel stock and gave it to the mortals so they could survive (Lines 536-567). “This stung the depths of Zeus’s mind . . . so straight away because of the stolen fire he contrived an evil for men” (Athanassiakis, Lines 567-570). Athanassiakis says that Zeus had mortal women created by Hephaestus and Athena as a burden for mortal men (lines 571-593). According to Lee Hall though, Prometheus and Athena created the first mortal men. Prometheus wanted to create a civil type of beings so Prometheus went to Athena and asked her for her assistance (Hall 64-65). “Taking clay he found in Boetia, Prometheus modeled human figures . . . Then Athena breathed life into each of the first group of new beings . . . the first humans were exclusively male” (Hall 65). Hall explains that Zeus was unhappy with these flawed mortal men so he withheld fire from them so they would be unable to eat cooked food. Athena took Prometheus to Hephaestus’s workshop to steal the power of fire and bring it the mortals. Zeus found out what he had done and had Prometheus chained to a pillar and have his liver eaten by an eagle. After he sentenced Prometheus to his punishment Zeus created women (Hall 65-68). Athena fought beside her father in the war between the gods and the giants called Gigantomachia. In this war Athena was able to show her talent as a warrior goddess. It took place on Olympia and the outcome of the war would determine who would rule the universe. According to Hall, The immortals were only able to defeat the giants with the help of Heracles; because giants can only die by being killed by both a mortal hero and an immortal at the same time (Hall 54-61). Athena helped a great deal in the war by trapping a giant. According to Ions, Athena took Sicily and threw it on top of the giant Enceladus. Some native Sicilians believe that is what caused Mount Etna to erupt (Ions 80). A poem called Ceres and Proserpina in book five of Charles Martin’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses partly discusses a giant being trapped underneath Sicily. According to Martin, the muse, Calliope, sings of the war Gigantomachia and how the giant Typhoeus is trapped beneath the island: “Vigorous Sicily/ . . . /the island’s weight held Typhoeus firmly beneath it / Often exerting himself, he strives yet again to rise up / . . . while Mount Etna presses his head, as under it, raging Typhoeus coughs ashes and vomits up fire / Often he struggles, attempting to shake off the earth’s weight and roll its cities and mountains away from his body” (Ceres and Proserpina, Lines 512-521). According to Ions, it was during this battle that Athena killed the giant called Pallas; this may be how she gained the name Pallas Athena. Athena made her shield and her egis from the giant’s skin (Ions 81). This is one of the many kinds of stories of how she got her name Pallas Athena, a name she is called in Homer’s epics. I found that Athena has connections with Medusa, a monstrous woman with hair of snakes and the sight of her eyes turns anyone into stone. Medusa was once a regular woman but angered Athena. As a punishment Athena turned Medusa into a monster. According to Carabatea, Medusa was once a beautiful woman that lived in the far north. Medusa didn’t see sunlight that often and asked Athena if she could show it to her. Athena denied Medusa’s request and Medusa thought that Athena was jealous of her beauty and denied her (Carabatea 626). Carabatea explains that Athena became angry at that the insult and decided to punished her. Athena turned Medusa’s hair in to snakes and that her gaze would turn anyone into stone (Carabatea 626). The perfect revenge; a woman that was once desired is now a feared and dreaded monster that no one can look at. Tiresias is the blind seer of Thebes that makes some appearances in ancient writings. He has appeared in The Iliad, The Divine Comedy, and his most well known appearance is in Oedipus the King. Tiresias is the symbol of Greek seers and the poem The Bath of Pallas tells how Tiresias became blind and a prophet. According to Stanley Lombardo’s and Diana Rayor’s translation of Callimachus’s poem The Bath of Pallas, Athena and Khariklo, Tiresias’s mother, were bathing in The Horse Spring on the mountain of Helikon. Tiresias was hunting in the mountains and came down to the spring to get a drink of water. When he came to the stream he saw Athena bathing there naked. Athena became angry and took away Tiresias’s eyesight (Lombardo and Rayor, Lines 87- 102). Athena speaking to Khariklo: “It was not I that struck your son blind / Putting out young eyes is not sweet to Athena, but the laws of Kronos demand that whoever sees an immortal against the god’s will must pay for the sight and pay dearly (Lombardo and Rayor Lines 122-126). Lombardo and Rayor continue to explain that Athena gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy because she felt sorry for him and his mother (Lines 143-154). After her appearances in The Iliad and The Odyssey she became one of the most used goddesses in Greek and Roman literature. From 700 B.C.E into 1300 A.D. Athena has appeared in many writings. She played a strong part in the war against Troy: In Lombardo’s translation of The Iliad, Athena watched over the hero Achilles and was responsible for most of the events in the epic. Athena was responsible for getting Odysseus home and helping him take his revenge against the suitors in Robert Fagles’s translation of The Odyssey. In Fagles’s translation of The Oresteia written by Aeschylus, She sided with Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, after he killed his mother and her lover for killing his father. Even in the early fourteenth century she has been traced to the Christian religion; after the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church. In Mark Musa’s translation of The Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri, Beatrice, the guide of Paradiso, wears a crown of olive leaves. Athena has a huge influence in many different types of writings stretching thousands of years. Athena is one of the greatest gods of ancient writings and will continue to play a part in writings to come. Works Cited Primary sources- -Athanassakis, Apostolos N. Theogony, Works and Days, Sheild. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1983. -Fagles, Robert. The Odyssey. United States: Viking Penguin, 1996 --The Oresteia. United States: Viking Penguin, 1975 -Martin, Charles. Metamorphoses. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004 -Musa, Mark. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1971. Secondary sources- -Allen, Thomas B., et al. Greece and Rome: Builders of the World. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Book Society, 1968. -Carabetea, Marilena. Greek Mythology. Athens: Adam, 1997 -Casson, Lionel. The Greek Conquerors. Chicago: Stonehenge, 1982 -Hall, Lee. Athena: A Biography. Canada: Addison-Wesley, 1997. -Ions, Veronica. The History of Mythology. United Kingdom: Octopus, 1997 -Kerenyl, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother. Zurich, Switzerland: Spring, 1978 -Lombardo, Stanley and Rayor, Diana. Hymns, Epigrams, Selected Fragments. Boston: John Hopkins UP, 1988. --Lombardo, Stanley. Iliad by Homer. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. -Willis, Roy. World Mythology: Greek Conquerors. Castel House, London: Duncan Bard, 1996.