Athena: A Voyage with the Gods
By Susan Hazan
A Voyage with the Gods describes Athena's numerous challenges and deeds; from the classical Greek era, to Roman fables, through post-classical culture, to modernity. Perhaps most interesting of all are the iconic representations of Athena that still appear today; where her qualities of wisdom, strength, strategic warfare and civilization are called upon to imbue all these qualities for all of us as we go about our contemporary life.
We welcome you to a Voyage with the Gods.
Nearly all the resources for this NoteStream have been retrieved from Athena (http://22.214.171.124/virtualexhibition/welcome.html). Creative Commons 2.5 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/legalcode
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What is it?
What is it about classical mythology that still haunts us? Why is it that we can recount the battles of Ancient Greece when prompted,
even though we may not really believe in either ancient deities nor mythological heroes - or even heroic deeds - anymore? How come names such as Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hades, Atlas and Aphrodite are still very much in our vernacular, and, even if we only really come across these characters in a museum or from a story book, we are still able to recognize their attributes, and still wonder at their endeavors?
The removal of the Sculptures from the Pediments of the Parthenon by Elgin, 1801.
Watercolour by Sir William Gell (1774-1836), renowned for his studies of Greek topography, who was an eyewitness to the spoliation of the Parthenon marbles. 0.20x0.31 m. (?? 23431)
Collection of Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Benaki Museum, Greece
It is as if all the stories we once heard are a part of us and, even if we weren't paying much attention at the time,
we can probably still recognize the Acropolis in Athens where the Gods once walked, and are probably able to visualize their ancient temples, even though we have not actually been anywhere near Greece all our lives!
This Virtual Exhibition questions whether these heroic tales are still as vital as they were for the Ancient Greeks, and challenges you to take a few minutes to consider whether - in fact - we still need our heroes today.
An Important Pause
A Voyage with the Gods invites you to take this opportunity to take a brief pause from all the other distractions of your daily life
– a pause that is probably shorter than a feature film or book but definitely longer than a tweet. We are asking you to think about the role that heroes plays in our lives today, because - we argue - we still need our heroes, and suggest that they still do have the capacity relay something relevant to us from an era long ago.
We hope that once you have taken this virtual voyage, the next time you come across an Athenian God on a visit to your local museum, or when one of them pops out of a storybook in a thrilling tale of heroism and glory you will also take the time to consider, why it is that we still need these stories, and what it is that they nourish in today's hyper-mediated world.
Twelve Olympic Divinities
Twelve Olympic Divinities decorated with signs of the zodiac.
Autel astrologique ? avec les têtes des 12 divinités de l'Olympe et les signes du zodiaque sur le côté, (C) RMN / Hervé Lewandowski, Paris, musée du Louvre
Many websites deal very impressively with ancient mythology, and many virtual exhibitions describe the plethora of the gods and their heroic tales.
We prefer to choose one of the Gods, and through her, we aim to identify what it is that she represents that is important in our lives today. We have selected the Goddess Athena; a complex heroine who has not only one quest – a prerequisite for being a mythological hero - but a series of intertwining tales that are spun from the fascinating revelation of her spectacular birth to her numerous iterations as the Greek Athena and Roman Minerva.
Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines, vers 550-540 av J.C, (C) RMN / Hervé Lewandowski, Paris, musée du Louvre
The Spectacular Birth of Athena
"Voice of Athena, dearest to me of the gods, how clearly, though you are unseen, do I hear your call and snatch its meaning in my mind." (Odysseus. Sophocles, Ajax 14).
According to the Greek version, Athena's birthplace was next to the Triton River in Libya, but the stories of her parentage vary from myth to myth. Some say that it was Metis, the wisest among the gods, who tried her hardest to hide from Zeus, while others say that it was Gaia who administered the spell that was to allow him to disgorge his own children; those children he had himself swallowed. Zeus had been warned by the prophecy that his own offspring would rule the heavens, ruling over Zeus himself - the Lord of the Universe. In a bid to protect himself from this bitter fate, he swallowed the pregnant mother with the baby Athena in her belly.
But even this precaution was of no avail. Soon after Zeus suffered a terrible headache and, in desperation, called for the blacksmith
Hephaestus to break his head open with a stroke of his axe.
As his head split open, the Goddess Athena appeared in full battledress and, as she rose form Zeus’s head, she pealed her terrifying clarion cry of war.
A quote from Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 6. 19 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :"If you would fashion an image of Athene, as Pheidias in his day endeavoured to do, you must image in your mind armies and cunning, and handicrafts, and how she leapt out of Zeus himself."
The Birth of Athena
The Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus
Amphore à col à figures noires. Face A: naissance d'Athéna- Face B: lyricines /bas: zone d'animaux
A magnificent statue was dedicated to her in Athens, the Temple of Athena on the Acropolis. In the Parthenon she was to become the patron deity
of Athens, the Lady of Athens. The Athenians not only built the Parthenon temple in her name but also named the city of Athens in her honour, adding to her name the title Athena Parthenos.
In time she came to be known as the goddess of wisdom, but also of civilization, strength, crafts, and justice, and above all, of cunning intelligence.
There are many stories of Athena's childhood and many different versions of these narratives. One such story is of Pallas,
her childhood friend. The two girls were practicing the arts of war together and, while playing, they had a bitter argument. Suddenly Pallas takes aim to strike out at Athena, but, before the blow falls, her father Zeus intervenes by holding up the protective Aegis (shield), frightening Athena, but striking Pallas and stunning her. Athena takes advantage of Pallas's momentary weakness and strikes her; killing her childhood friend in error.
Distraught over Pallas death, Athena carves a wooden likeness of her childhood friend, and calls it the Palladium. She drapes the aegis round its breast, and pays tribute to her lost friend. In an act of sorrow, Athena takes the name Pallas for herself, and from then on, she is known as Pallas Athena.
Pallas Athena carries the thunderbolt and the Aegis, which she and Zeus share exclusively
Birth of Athena
The dramatic birth of Athena, by Brunnen von Karl Donndorf, 1911
The stories of our Greek and Roman heroes all share similar traits. Heroes or heroines tend to be born in an extraordinary way,
(think of the DC Comics Superman, the sole survivor from the planet Krypton who was saved by his father and sent in a rocket to planet Earth), are often brought up by those who are not their birth parents, and who go on to face a series of challenges or quests before they can claim what is rightly theirs.
During their heroic careers they are called up to intervene in all kinds of human endeavors; such as battles between peoples, or wars between nations. They are also often conscripted into worthy causes, such the creation of a new town; laying the metaphoric foundations for what was to become our major cities that we still walk in today. These stories are called founding myths, and often denote moments in a shared history when new communities rose to later became powerful and prosperous.
Once, a long, long time ago, the first king of Athens, King Cecrops (quite an extraordinary king himself as he was part human and part snake),
set out to find a patron deity for his city state, already a prosperous and vibrant city. He called on Athena and Poseidon because both in fact desired to be the patron of this beautiful city. Their rivalry was so intense that they almost went to war, and just as they were about to attack each other, Athena, with her typical, wise approach, suggested that they should hold a contest for the city. With King Cecrops the judge, they set up the contest and decided that whoever presented the city with the best gift would be rewarded with the city itself as the grand prize.
Minerve (Athena) and Neptune
Dispute between Minerva and Neptune over the Naming of the City of Athens
René-Antoine Houasse (1645–1710)
Medium oil on canvas, c. 1689 and 1706
Currently located in Palace of Versailles
(Public domain image)
In the midst of a huge crowd, with King Cecrops presiding over the contest they went up to the Acropolis to present their gifts to the city.
Poseidon was to go first, and he lifted his massive trident (three pointed spear) and struck the earth with it. At the point where the spear struck, a frothy spring burst out producing a sea which is now called Erekhtheis. The people loved it but as they went closer to taste the water, to their dismay the water was salty. Don’t forget that Poseidon was ruler of the sea and the water sources he controlled were inevitably salty, just like the seas he ruled.
When it was Athena's turn, her act was far less dramatic.
She quietly knelt and buried something in the ground which in time grew into an olive tree. This turned out to be a much more useful gift, granting the Athenians not only the olives themselves as sustenance, but also a source of oil for their lamps and for cooking their food as well as the wood from the olive tree to build their boasts and houses. Clearly Athena's gift was deemed by far the better by Cecrops and he declared her the winner, and the patron deity of Athens. Athena became the protector of the city (polis), and many people throughout the Greek world worshiped her as Athena Polias ("Athena of the city"). As patron of Athens she fought in the Trojan War on the side of the Achaeans.
Athena and Neptune
The contest of Athena and Poseidon.
From the reconstruction of the West Pediment of the Parthenon.
"Reconstruction of the west pediment of the Parthenon 1" by Tilemahos Efthimiadis. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
NOTE: Labeled no-reuse
La Dispute de Minerve et de Neptune pour donner un nom à la ville d'Athènes, Halle Noël (1711-1781), huile sur toile, Hauteur 1.56 m.; Longueur 1.97 m., Paris, musée du Louvre
(C) RMN - Christian Jean, Culture.fr/collections, France
The fabulous citadel at the Acropolis was named Cecropia after the King. Poseidon, was not pleased by all this, and in a wild fury,
flooded the Thriasian plain, drowning Attika under his salty sea.
The contest for the city of Athens was later carved into the stone on the rear pediment of the Temple of Athena. Both appear in the center of the composition, with the goddess holding her olive tree and Poseidon his trident.
This story deserves an additional telling – this time in the Roman tradition. Here, the god Neptune challenged the goddess Minerva to the contest over Athens. It was Jove (Zeus) who was to judge, and the outcome was identical, establishing what was said to be the first town in the world and naming it in her own name, Athens. In this version, not only did Neptune flood the land with salt water, but went on to curse the city with a water shortage which continues today in modern day Greece.
Here again, there are several ways of telling this story.
Per Apollodorus, Athena visited the blacksmith Hephaestus to buy weapons from him, but he was so overcome by desire for her that he tried to seduce her in the blacksmith workshop. Another version says Hephaestus wished to marry Athena, but she refused his hand as she found his limp ugly. Some say that Hephaestus had been born a cripple, while other say that say that he fell from the sky, or was pushed by his mother Hera, or throne off Mount Olympus.
Regardless, he took a full nine days and nights to fall into the sea where he landed near the island of Lemnos. Here the island people –in some versions described as nymphs – took care of him until he was strong enough to build his palace and set up his fiery workshop under a volcano – later to become the god of volcanoes and associated with Mount Etna on the Island of Sicily.
Getting back to our chief protagonist – one gets easily sidetracked by the winding paths that these mythologies weave –
Athena either fled from their bridal bed on discovering his disfiguration, or she simply fled when he tried to rape her. In all this drama his seed spilt onto her thigh where in disgust she wiped it off with wool cloth. The seed falls to the earth where the union of Hephaestus and Gaia, (Earth) produces the baby Erikchthonius.
Athena and Erikhthonios
Athèna et Erichthonios (?)
Lécythe à figures rouges
Vers 450 - 430 avant J.-C., Attique, Athènes
H. : 16 cm. ; D. : 6 cm.
Acquisition 1896, Département des Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines
© Musée du Louvre, Culture.fr/collections, France
Athena never marries and never took a lover, and thus came to be known as Athena Parthenos, the "Virgin Athena".
This central trait reflected not simply her virginity, but also the valued qualities of sexual modesty and ambiguity. In contrast, Hephaestus is usually depicted as deformed as he labors over his anvil. He is bearded and disheveled, recognized by the walking stick he carries. Homer describes Hephaestus as a cripple and dependent on his stick to walk.
Do not Open
But let us get back to the plot and the fate of the baby Erichthonius. Gaia was totally displeased with the birth of the baby Erichthonius
and refused to take responsibility for the child. Athena stepped in, deciding to adopt the baby as his foster mother.
In order to protect him, she carried Erichthonius inside a special closed box or basket (cista) inside the sanctuary of the Athenian Acropolis. Here she implored her sisters, the priestesses Aglauros, Herse and Pandrosos, daughters of the first Athenian king Cecrops, not to open the basket.
The goddess refuses to tell them what is inside the box and warns them not to open it until she returns.
But of course they did, and to their horror discovered that the baby was curled up with a snake in his crib.
They were so shocked they threw themselves off the Acropolis to their death on the rocks below. Other versions describe how a crow saw them opening the box, and gave them away to Athena who drove them off the Acropolis in her fury. Either way, they met a terrifying death after discovering the hidden secret of Erichthonius's cradle.
Erichthonius, under the protection of Athena, grew up to become king of Athens. He was a benevolent king, nurturing his people and gifting them special skills. He was the first to tame wild horses and to shackle them to chariots. He produced the first plough and showed his people how to cultivate the earth. In his smithy he worked silver, a metal that at the time was even more precious than gold and celebrated the Panathenaean festival in honor of his adoptive mother, the goddess Athena.
Cecrops Töchter öffnen das Behältnis, in dem Erichthonius liegt
1602/1604, Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett
© Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
The Birth of Erichthonius was popular as the narrative depicted on Athenian red figured vases. These famous vessels from the Classical period are located and exhibited in Museums throughout the world.
Athena and the Nemean Lion
Hercules' cousin, Eurystheus set twelve labours to be carried out by Hercules over the twelve years of his servitude.
The first task was to slay the vicious Nemean Lion that had been terrorizing people around Nemea, and to bring back its pelt as a trophy. The hide was so thick that after several attempts Hercules had failed to slay the lion. For his first attempt he had tried with to bring down the lion with his bow and arrow made out of a sturdy olive tree, and in a subsequent attempt he tried to tackle the lion with his bronze sword.
Eventually Hercules threw away his weapons and tackled the lion with his bare hands, forcing the lion to the ground, and killing it!
In some versions the lion was killed by choking, in others through strangling, while in still others by a broken jaw. However the Nemean lion met its death was not as important as the Herculean task of skinning him. Hercules spent many unsuccessful hours trying to skin the lion, and gradually became furious with frustration. This would have meant failure at his very first task! And this is precisely when Athena steps in, and, disguised as an old woman, she advises Hercules to use the lion’s own claws. Hercules succeeds in skinning the lion with its sharp claws and from then wore the hide himself as armor, granting him invincible protection from his enemies.
Hercules and the Nemean Lion
Lekythos depicting Herakles' fight against the Lion of Nemea.
The hero, nude and bearded, grabs the lion's neck with his left arm while grasping the animal's front paw with the right hand. Athena and Iolaos are rushing into the scene to help him.
(C) Museum of Cycladic Art - Greece, Athena, Greece
Here, the Goddess Athena guides Perseus in his quest to behead the Medusa.
While some say she agreed to help him in this quest because she wanted the Gorgon's head to decorate her shield, in other versions her inspiration and cunning were accentuated.
Perseus’s quest was to slay Medusa, the terrifying head of the Gorgon, teeming with snakes. Some versions describe Medusa as a beautiful young woman who because of her handsome hair was desired by many suitors. Eventually she became betrothed to Poseidon (Neptune), but when he came upon her one day, worshipping in the Athena’s Temple, he was so enamored by her beauty that he ravished her. Athena was furious at the sacrilege that had taken place in her temple and punished Medusa by magically changing her beautiful hair into hissing snakes, as well as conferring the destructive power on her that turned people into stone at the mere gaze into her face.
Athena and Perseus
Perseus was sent to retrieve Medusa’s head by King Polydestes of Seriphos. Persues had help in this challenge:
Hermes who provided the winged sandals, giving him stealth on his journey, Hades of the Underworld gave him a cape or cap of invisibility. But it was Athena who provided the strategic solution to combat the power of the mortifying gaze. She lent Persues her highly polished shield, which acted like a mirror, and allowed him to look away from the head while he dealt his death blow with the sharp sickle received from Cronus.
Perseus continued to use the head as a weapon in other battles; for example, when he rescued Andromeda. Soon after, he gave Medusa’s head to the goddess Athena and she placed it at the center of her Aegis to decorate her shield. From there on it was known as the Gorgoneion and it maintained the power to turn her enemies to stone.
Minerva and the Gorgon's Head
Minerva and the Gorgon's Head, wooden relief, Panneau,Minerve, (16e siècle)
Ecouen, musée national de la Renaissance
(C) RMN - Droits réservés, Culture.fr/collections ; France
The Stymphalian Birds
Athena again comes to assist Hercules; this time it is his sixth task, and he is called upon to defeat the Stymphalian Birds.
In Greek mythology, the Stymphalian birds were vicious, man-eating bird-like creatures with bronze beaks and feathers formed from metal that could cut into human flesh. Even their dung was highly poisonous. After the birds fled for their lives from a pack of wolves they sought shelter and settled in the countryside by the swamp-lake of Stymphalia. Here they bred large flocks, and ravenously devoured the local crops and fruit trees. Hercules was called upon to destroy the birds once they started to terrorize the people and he fearlessly set off to this task with little, or no preparation.
Heracles, failed at his first attempt because he realized that he could not go after the birds by wading into the lake itself, as he would surely have sunk straight into the swamp.
Athena came to his rescue by giving him enormous bronze rattles (especially made by Hephaestus for this purpose),
which he used to frighten the birds, and drove them in fear to fly up, screeching into the air. Heracles was then able to pick them off, one by one with a shot from his bow, and his hydra-poisoned arrows (some say by slingshot), while the rest of the birds flew off in fear, never to return to the lake.
Heracles then brought some of the birds he had killed back to Eurystheus who went on to send him on his next of his 12 tasks; to capture the Cretan Bull and bring it back to him. And if you are wondering what happened to those birds who flew off, they make another appearance later on when they start to annoy the Argonauts on their journey across the Black Sea ... but that’s another story.
Heracles killing the Stymphalian birds with his sling. Attic black-figured amphora, ca. 540 BC. Said to be from Vulci.
Currently located in the British Museum
(Image in Public Domain)
Arakhne’s story is a late Roman addition to Classical Greek mythology, and serves to warn mortals not to challenge their Gods.
In some versions the maiden Arakhne is Athena’s student, while in others she has was taught the art of spinning and weaving by mortals, reaching a remarkable skillfulness, and attaining the dexterity of a god. Arakhne was the daughter of a famous dyer of Tyrian purple in Hypaipa from Lydia. However, more than proud of her weaving prowess, she began to show off about her wondrous skills. Her fame soon spread and, it was said, that even the nymphs came to watch her at the loom! She spun the finest of yarn at her spindle, and deftly wove the colored threads into the most exquisite of tapestries. So proud was she of her handiwork that she began to brag to all how she was the greatest weaver ever born.
Athena, herself the Goddess of spinning and weaving heard about Arakhne’s proficiency, but when she heard that the girl
had boasted that it was Athena herself who had taught her weaving, she decided to confront her, and give her a chance to redeem herself. She appeared to Arakhne as an old woman and warned her not to offend the deities.
However the girl scoffed at the old woman, and she was so sure of herself that she demanded a weaving contest so that she could prove that she was a better weaver than Athena! The Goddess Athena revealed herself and agreed to a contest. The two weavers set to their looms, both weaving with great passion; each absorbed in the imagery they were creating.
A Tale of Caution...
Athena wove the scene of her contest with Poseidon for Athens, deftly illustrating the presence of Zeus and the other eleven heavenly deities.
In the center, she depicted herself, Aegis protecting her breast, and helmet on her head - ready to spring into battle right from the cloth! This was to act as warning to the girl, but, according to Ovid, Arakhne decided to represent the failings of the Gods: producing a tapestry that pictured the deities and their infidelities!
The mortal girl had dared to show how Zeus had been unfaithful to Leda, and Europa had been unfaithful to Danaë. While Athena acknowledged that Arakhne's weaving skills were perfect, she was outraged at Arakhne for showing the gods so disrespectfully. In a fit of fury, Athena reached for her spindle and destroyed not only the girls' weaving but also her loom! Athena then struck Arakhne with her staff, turning her into a spider.
Athena and Arakhne
Athena Changing Arachne into a Spider
Etching (1606) from The Metamorphoses of Ovid by Antonio Tempesta (Italy, Florence, 1555-1630), Wilhelm Janson (Holland, Amsterdam)
Current location: LACMA, Los Angeles
A Prayer to Athena
For the makers of pottery, there is a prayer that Athena will hold out her hands over the potters oven, that the vessels will be well fired,
receive a beautiful black colour, and yield a good profit when they are sold.
Where is Athena today? Surprisingly she seems to be everywhere. She or her Roman counterpart Minerva seem to pop up all over the place, and are still mobilized for their eternal qualities. While this NoteStream celebrates the legacy of the Goddess Athena, it is not intended to promote Neo-paganism, which in some countries has recently become an recognized religion. The term Paganism, or Neopaganism now typically serves as a category or a catch-all term for several new age beliefs and practices. To see the official Pagan holidays you can go to the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/tools/calendar/faith.shtml?pagan
For over two thousand years Athena has decorated coins; either appearing in full battledress, or with one or more of her attributes
- the owl or olive tree. In today’s world, she is still seen as an emblematic figurehead representing heroism, and acting as a role model for those going into - or having survived battle. On the United States Military Academy Coat Of Arms Athena’s helmet sits prominently in the centre of the composition.
As recently as February, 2011 two new coins were authorized by the US Congress, both designed with Athena as the central motif.
United States Medal of Honor (left) $5 Coin minted 2011 (right)
Medal of Honor
These shiny new coins were minted in recognition of the United States’ highest personal decoration, The Medal of Honor.
This medal was originally produced in 1861 as the Army and Navy's recognition of valor in the battlefield. Minerva is pictured prominently both on the original medal, and on the newly minted coins on the reverse side. In both designs she is pictured holding a shield and the Union flag.
She has decorated coins from early Greek and Roman times; see the tetradchm next. Up until the Euro came into circulation the 100 Lire coin, depicting Minerva by her olive tree was used across Italy. Today the Euro celebrates Athena - her owl decorates the Greek 1 Euro coin and is used in circulation in the market, in shops and vending machines.
Tetradrachm (silver) mint coin, Athens, mid-5th century BCE
(C) The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Italian Lire Coin
Italian Lire coin
In popular culture the name Minerva is synonymous with witches. The famous Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress and Head of Gryffindor House,
Minerva McGonagall, is probably the best loved witch in popular culture, as she waves her wand throughout the best-selling novels by British author J. K. Rowling, in the Harry Potter series. In the Marvel Comics Universe, Thena causes considerable confusion with our Goddess Athena. Both Thena and the Marvel Pallas Athena are just as brave as the Greek one in their popular adventures.
For those who prefer to hold Athena in their hands, Matte‘s Barbie doll, Pallas Athena has become a collector’s item. With no more than 5300 units produced and distributed worldwide from their Goddess Series, this treasure is no longer available, even when searching across collectors sites.
Barbie Pallas Athena
Mattel's Barbie Pallas Athena
Designed by: Linda Kyaw
Release Date: 2/18/2010
Product Code: R4492
Athena Conscripted into Academia
As Athena and Minerva have come to represent wisdom, she is often mobilized into academia. A statue of Minerva is located
in the center of La Sapienza University, the most important university of Rome. A massive representation of Minerva is located in front of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library; here interpreted as "Alma Mater". Above the entrance to the University of Vienna main building, there is a sculpture work titled "The Birth of Minerva”.
The University of Lincoln has also adopted the Roman Goddess, identifying with her qualities through the profile selected for their logo.
University of Lincoln
From Lincoln to SUNY
In addition to the Minerva crest, the Lincoln rugby union team maintains a long time tradition when they too identify
with the Knights of Minerva. Each time the Lincoln team wins a match, the rugby players are winning in Minerva's honour!
One university that has adopted Minerva whole-heartedly is the SUNY Potsdam University, The State University of New York. The original sculpture of Minerva was donated to the campus by the class of 1892, and has since wandered around from location to locations over the years. She has moved from one venue to the next, and now found her permanent home poised right next door to the student and faculty Minerva’s Café. Doubling her poignant message, she has gained a sister; a duplicate statue of Minerva is now located in the new outdoor plaza.
SUNY Potsdam University
Minerva in the SUNY Potsdam University, The State University of New York
The Eternal Goddess
Perhaps the most striking modern day sculpture of Athena is the statue by artist Alan LeQuire. She stands 41 ft 10 in tall,
making her the largest indoor sculpture in the Western World. She was built as the focus of the full-scale reconstruction of the Acropolis Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park.
The modern sculpture took eight years to complete, and was unveiled to the public on May 20, 1990. LeQuire ‘s Athena was modeled on what is known of the colossal statue by the famous Greek sculpture, Phidias, which was completed and dedicated in 438 for the Parthenon in Athens. The original sculpture was made of gold and ivory and was said to have stood some 38 feet (12 m) high.
The Goddess in Tennessee wears a tunic, aegis, and helmet and holds a Nike (goddess of victory) in her extended right hand (standing over 6 feet) with eleven snakes represented on her breastplate, bracelets, and belt.
Collusus replica of Athena Athena in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee
Pallas Athena by Phidias
Visite à l'atelier de Phidias, Le Roux Hector (1829-1900), (C) RMN - René-Gabriel Ojéda
This painting takes us to Phidias's atelier and offers a glimpse at the scale of Pallas Athena's colossus sculpture being prepared for her Temple in the Parthenon in Athens.