Goddess of the Week: Athena

It's hard not to admire Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.  She's ultra-smart, beautiful, athletic and very loyal to her champions.  The Athenians knew this, which is why they named their city after her, built her the very cool Parthenon, and ultimately whopped the Trojans.  

But the truth is -- and I mean no disrespect to Athena --  she kind of scares me.  She reminds me too much of those "it" girls who terrified humble, fat me in junior high school.  She's everybody's favorite, but she still can't cut the clueless and socially inept any slack.  Paris, for example.  There he is -- minding his flock of sheep -- when Hera, Aphrodite and Athena descend upon him and demand that he choose which of them is the most beautiful.  Hera promised to make him a king.  Athena promised to make him a great warrier.  Aphrodite promised him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.  Truth be told, Paris was not the smartest rock in marble quarry.  He chose love.  He chose Helen.  And Athena made him pay dearly.  Her Athenians destroyed Troy; they destroyed Paris.  Poor, stupid Paris.  And that's the story of western civilization right there: warriors beat poor, stupid lovers.  

What we forget about Athena, after all, is that she is not just the goddess of wisdom. She is also the goddess of war.  Why war and smarts?  Why would she be the goddess of both?  I guess it let the Athenians self-aggrandize themselves pretty well.  It allowed them to excuse a host of sins.  It your goddess demands it, it must be ok.

Whatever the reason, Athena must be doing well for herself today, on this day when most children return to school after their winter breaks and when my newspaper declares, "Israelis isolate Gaza City: Hamas keeps firing rockets; militants, soldiers clash on multiple fronts."

Channel this goddess: carefully.  Smarts and wisdom aren't always the same thing.  Just because you know more doesn't always mean you know best. 


altadenahiker said...

He may be dumb, but I must confess, I like Paris in the springtime. Visit my blog one post back, someone left a note for you.

altadenahiker said...

And as Paris might counsel, Revenons a nos moutons.

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

Delllaaaaa, translation please!
Isn't it every "eating alone at the lunch table, last chosen, odd girl out" fantasy to be "Athena for a day"?
I believe Jerry Springer does an ocassional show where this desire is it's underpinning.

I just can't get enough of your goddess interpretations and must express my admiration for your ability to connect them to the horrors of junior high. Some great lines M, and the connection to Israel/Gaza, very good.

Margaret said...

Altadena Hiker: Wow! You have some big time followers on your blog, and the fact that they can communicate from the netherworld is especially impressive. Also, I'm even more afraid of French than of Athena. I've studied Italian and Spanish, but it's just plain embarrassing trying to say something in French when you don't know how to say it. The point is: what the heck are you saying?

PA: How truly tragic were my junior high years if I'm still obsessing over them. The other thing about Athena is that she was her father's favorite child, and you know how that can go to a goddess's head.

Petrea said...

It seems all gods allow us to excuse a host of sins. That must be why we create them.

altadenahiker said...

Let us return to our sheep. That's it. Well, of course, there's a whole story behind this quote, but I won't bore you.

Margaret said...

Petrea: I think you must be right.

AH: Let us return to our sheep? I think I understood the French more. Do tell. What the heck does that mean?

altadenahiker said...

It's where Paris wants to be. (This French phrase grew from a highly publicized lawsuit involving a shepherd. One lawyer continually tried to divert attention from the actual issues, so the judge kept saying, well, you know. So it really means, let's get back to the point.)

Margaret said...

Ahhh. Now I get it. Thanks for the history lesson, AH.

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