Questions and Answers
Question: What are Athena’s dreams and desires?
- What are Athena’s fears?
- What are Athena’s inner emotions?
- What magical objects does Athena have?
- What does Athena look like?
Answer: Athena’s dreams and desires relate to the way that men and women can use wisdom, skills and warfare. She is sweet and considerate to people who were sincerely seeking wisdom, but fierce and destructive to the ignorant.
A goddess knows no fear. But she is confined to her own realm. This is her limitation. Sometimes she must negotiate with other gods and goddesses to accomplish her ends.
A Greek goddess appears to have emotions. As when Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena quarreled as to which one was the most beautiful. But this is only so she can communicate better with human beings. Zeus prevents humans from being too god-like by requiring that they communicate in some coded or hidden form that does not reveal the true nature of divinity. But if they talk as though they are humans this is not a problem.
When a divinity uses a power that is an exception to the rules of their realm then this appears as magic. All they are doing is utilizing options that they have forbidden to humans. But they are within the realm of divine law. And because they are acting beyond human understanding they appear to be using magic. Since they are outside of time and space they can appear to move through time and space. To us this appears to be magic. When the fates weave the thread of life for each person it seems that they weave a number of strands for each person. A person follows only one strand while the others remain as potential. What the deities do is change a person from one strand to another if the situation warrants. This also appears to be magic because the direction of life changes with the thread. There are symbols that work with these concepts. Wings symbolize Athena’s ability to move through space. A wand symbolizes her ability to change the direction of a life.
Athena always takes on a look that meets the expectation of the viewer. She is a shape changer. She can look like a wise friend, and owl, or almost anything else. The statues of her that we have represent the vision of the artist.
Question: Athena and Python- symbol of Celts?
Apollo killed Python and Echidna snakes at Delphi before the Dorians arrived to continue the prophetic tradition. Athena’s aegis (aigios goat?) was made of goatskin of Python-snake, and Medusa Gorgon had goathorns. This suggests a goat-horned snake, which is the form of the Celtic snake on Gundestrup Cauldron, and the French guivre/wyvern dragon – a snake with horns. The Druid “Ovates” prophets derive from the IE word “wat”, vates, vatieke, which became Vatican as place of prophecy. Thus, Delphi was possibly a Celtic (or similar) site of prophecy by the Ovates, sons of the Echidna dragon, who was daughter of Brettanos of Gaul.
Diodorus 2.43 5.24. Etymol. Magnum 502. Parth.Alcman 30.
“Vatika” is a place in Laconia, possibly the Sanskrit form from Syria, meaning “botanic garden”, hermitage of sages and prophets. It became Angkor “WAT” in Cambodia of Sanskrit priests. Could it be that Delphi was a “vatika” shrine of Celts?
Answer: Not likely, but possibly. More likely is that they had a common ancestor. Current paleontology suggests that all humans have a common ancestor located in the rift area of Africa some 250 thousand years ago. These ancestors left evidence of religious experience about 35,000 years ago. As the people spread out different branches of people differentiated. The result of this is that if you trace any religion back far enough it seems similar to all the other religions at that time. The people who lived in Greece before the Indo-Europeans moved in definitely had European roots. They were blond and blue-eyed in some cases. But to say that they were Celts is stretching things. The fact that Wicca has roots in both Celtic and Greek does argue for the similarity of these two but the parts would not be identifiable unless the religions were different. To prove your case you would have to be very diligent in terms of tracing ancient movements of the peoples involved and determine when and where they were one people. One problem that interferes with this process is that the Minoan language is still untranslated. The source of this language is open to speculation. One author suggests similarities to the rift area of Africa. This would not support your theory.
Question:Athena Echidna and Celts?
“To prove your case you would have to be very diligent in terms of tracing ancient movements of the peoples involved and determine when and where they were one people. ”
Thanks for replying. It is accepted without explanation that Apollo was borrowed by Etruscans as Aplu, and that Romans borrowed Athena as Minerva, and Zeus as Jupiter. The 3 peoples were separate, as Celts and Greeks also were separate, and borrowing a god did not require wider borrowing of ritual. In fact, Greeks evidently “killed” the original Delphic ritual of a tribal snake-prophet. As Delphi is in the north, the early Delphic population did not need to have been in Greece to the south, and Celts flowed across the Balkans from Austria from the time of Dorian entry. The spread of IE dialects carried in-built word-roots connected to religious concepts such as snake/river goddesses. The Dorians from the north would logically be aware at least that Celts existed. The Austria-Delphi distance is comparable with Athens-Tuscany. Would this add meaning to Athena’s snakes?
Answer: Probably not. You are right that ideas moved without people but as you go back in time this is less likely. Traders and explorers also moved ideas. Even merchandise has been known to move ideas great distances without the traders moving that far. So it is important to identify these type of links. What artifacts have been found at Delphi to document the early worship of snakes and what culture do they support? Likewise do we find ancient Greek pottery in contemporary Celtic lands? Myths are suggestive but the ideas that they suggest should be backed up with hard facts.
Snakes are an almost universal symbol of a spiritual nature. In Minoan Culture there is a goddess referred to as the Snake Goddess. Perhaps she is Athena. But she might be Medusa. Many of the dragons of ancient Greek myth are more easily interpreted as snakes. Then Medea becomes a snake Goddess. Andromeda was probably being sacrificed to a Snake. etc.
I think the Dorians might be too late for your idea. Apollo kills the snake. Apollo seems to symbolize the overthrow of the old religion by the religion of the Dorians. So the Celts would have to be related to the Mycenaeans or even their predecessors. But though the Dorians officially overthrew the old religion they adopted the language, deity names, and deity characteristics of the Mycenaeans. So the question is “Where did the Mycenaeans come from?”
Question: What role does Athena play in the odyssey? Why is she often considered its main female character?
Answer: The Odyssey is not a work of fiction and styling it as a story with a plot and main characters somewhat simplifies and trivializes it. But that you can treat it that way is a tribute to its power. Lately I have read that what the Odyssey was really about was the voyages of discovery that took place in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. This makes a great deal of sense and relates well to other themes that have been assigned to it. We know that during the Minoan and Mycenean periods ships sailed from the Aegean far and wide, to the Black Sea, to Egypt, to Lybia, to France and Spain, and maybe even to the British Isles. Then there was a period of a few centuries when few if any trips took place. Then just before Homer they started again. During that period many colonies were set up. The result is that by Homer’s time there was a lot of experience with stories to tell, just like Homer relates.
So how do you deal with a voyage of discovery? You prepare yourself as best you can but you know that new things may be discovered and dealt with. So do you think it will work to take a cookbook along so you match new things to recipes already known? Not likely. You will have to use your wit and intelligence to meet the new demands. You need supplies and equipment that is adaptable as the situation demands and you need to be willing to make that change. That is why Athena is important. She is the goddess of knowledge that allows you to face these new situations. It is not that she is a character in a story with Odysseus. It is that Odysseus needs the knowledge that she symbolizes to survive his ordeal. And it is plain that Athena is fond of Odysseus not because he is strong, handsome or high-born, but because he uses his head and figures things out.
Question: My son emailed me today that:
Religion in general did not begin until the Neolithic period (ca. 9800 BCE) – stuff like Stonehenge – and recorded mythology began in Sumeria ca. 3000 BCE, followed by Egyptian mythology beginning around 2500 BCE, followed by Mycenaean mythology (including Athena) around 1600 BCE, Jewish tradition in 1250 BCE, Hinduism in 1100 BCE, Buddhism in 550 BCE, Christianity of course at about 35 CE, Mayan mythology about 250 CE, Taoism in 300 CE, Islam in 650 CE, Shinto in 712 CE, Viking around 800 CE, Catholicism and Orthodoxy in 1054 CE, Protestantism in 1517 CE, Mormonism in 1830 CE, Baha’i in 1844 CE, Rastafarianism in about 1930 CE, Scientology in 1952 CE, and Unitarian Universalism in 1961 CE.
So to say that any deity has been worshiped for 30,000 years is blatant exaggeration. Even the sun hasn’t been worshiped for more than about 5,000.
I am guessing the author meant *over 3,000 years*, right?
Answer: I fixed the info as you suggested. However the idea of the beginning of religion is a bit vague. What your son is talking about is evidence for religious-like activity. If you define a religion as belief in a set of ideas, then religion is more recent. Some contend that religion involves a belief in god and an afterlife. Press this a little further and you get statements about true religion to the exclusion of what is false. Mythology is a value-laden term related to the idea of false religion to the western mind. The Greeks identified mythology with poetry and not belief.
Reply: Even saying poetry counts as the beginning of religion, poetry has not existed 30,000 years even in oral form that I can tell.
From Wikipedia: Thus many ancient works, from the Vedas (1700 – 1200 BC) to the Odyssey (800 – 675 BC), appear to have been composed in poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission, in prehistoric and ancient societies. Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, runestones and stelae. The oldest surviving poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh, from the 4th millennium BC in Sumer (in Iraq/Mesopotamia), which was written in cuneiform script on clay tablets and, later, papyrus. The Epic of Gilgamesh is based on the historical king Gilgamesh. The oldest love poem, found on a clay tablet now known as Istanbul #2461, was also a Sumerian poem. It was recited by a bride of the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, who ruled from 2037–2029 BC.
Greek mythology is known today primarily from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period dating from c. 900-800 BC onward.
What’s more, when the first Homo sapiens have been estimated to be around 100,000 years ago, the first recorded history of human activity of any kind didn’t start till around 10,000 years ago. The earliest known European cave paintings date to Aurignacian, some 32,000 years ago. That just 2,000 years later there would be people talking about Athena in any context strikes me as way off. I’d love to believe people have been discussing my namesake for so long, but really can’t find anything to support anything more than around 2810 years at most. :( So actually, my guess that you meant “over 3,000 years” wasn’t even an accurate guess (though closer, much closer!). So thanks for correcting the earlier typo, but I guess one more correction might be in order “over 3,000 years” to “close to 3,000” – sorry about that! I know it’s being “picky” but with so much misinformation out there (even with books, there was plenty, which I realized mostly after our son starting pointing out from age 2 onward), I think it’s really important to try to keep stuff as accurate as possible on the Internet.
Reply to the Reply: What you are focusing on is just the written record. The works of Homer reflect a time 500 years before probably preserved in poetry. So before writing one can assume human memory preserves some record. Then there are the artifacts, pictures and figurines. A study of these things relates to the history of religion which is thought to be quite old because it is a part of even the most primitive cultures.
But focusing on the history of the goddess Athena is much more interesting than goddesses in general. Athena is quite different from other goddesses. The ancient Greeks seemed to think Athena actually helped them defeat the invading Persians. The description of this event comes across as no less than a miracle. Athena was also involved in the production of the art of classical Greece that we are so impressed by. The Parthenon was dedicated to her. Then there is the fact that she bridges a big gap between masculine skills and feminine ones. Actual record of her worship can really only be documented from about 900 BCE to about 125 ad. But could the ancient Greeks have constructed her of thin air? It seems unlikely. One of the characteristics of religion is belief that comes from constants and enduring qualities. The changes that resulted in her worship must have come slowly over a long time. So what are her antecedents? The suggestion is that she was part of the Myceanean patheon as recorded in one of the linear B tablets: Greek Writing.
But what about the Minoan Culture? It has been suggested that both the Egyptian and the Minoan culture were actually African. A debate about the facts of this discussion is present at Black Athena
Originally I was led to believe that one of the unique facts about Greek religious thought was that very little came from the Indo-European Culture. Now it seems clear to me that most of the Greek religious thought came from Indo-European Culture. But there are key deities in the pantheon which came from elsewhere. And Athena is one of these. But she does have precedents from the Indo-European culture notably in Themis and Metis. It now seems that the Amazons came from the Indo-European culture and may have influenced Athena. What seems to have happened is that the Indo-Europeans came from the north and met Africans coming from the south. What happened was not a war, as illustrated in the Titanomachy, but an assimilation, a selection of the best of both worlds. Athena may be one of the important results of this assimilation. There is a lot more to explore in this topic.
And what about Athena today? We certainly could use some more wisdom.
Question: But as you yourself wrote, even there, Athena is only documented from 900 BCE or closer to today than that. There are no older artifacts of Athena, right?
Answer: On the page Silverweed down and to the right is a golden seal indicated as 3500 years old. In the sky and to the right is a little figure. The 8 shape of the body has been interpreted as a shield and so this figure has been interpreted as Athena coming from the sky called by the priestesses in the foreground. The caption says this piece is in the National Archeological musem of Athens but I cannot find it there.
The reference that I gave you before at Greek writing indicates that Athena was mentioned in the Mycenean culture 1400 BCE. It would seem most likely that we would have to look into the Minoan culture for antecedents to Athena since the tablet was found in Cnossus.
Then there is this quote from Wikipedia: “Athena’s cult as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from very early times and was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. The Greek philosopher, Plato (429–347 BC), identified her with the Libyan deity, Neith, the war-goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient predynastic period, also identified with weaving. This is sensible as some Greeks identified Athena’s birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya’s Triton River. Classicist Martin Bernal created the “Black Athena Theory” to explain this associated origin by claiming that the conception of Neith was brought over to Greece from Egypt with ‘an enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia. Athena became the goddess of wisdom as philosophy became a part of the cult in the later fifth century and Classical Greece. ”
More about Neith and Athena at: Click Here
There is also this article: War goddesses
An interesting article from my point of view is: Berber mythology
The Greeks founded colonies around Cyrene in Africa and came in contact with the Berbers, but there may have been earlier contact in the other direction. Several thousand years ago the Sahara was a vast grassland. When the Sahara dried up there probably was a migration of people to better lands. These could have populated both Egypt and Crete separately and brought with them their deities. Lake Tritonis is tied up with this story as probably is the story of Atlantis. Information about Lake Tritonis is at: Lake Tritonis
With a little investigation you will probably find that Athena was worshipped well before the dates given above.
Question: Can you help me understand how Athena represents the culture of Greece?
Answer: Athena, the goddess of wisdom, can be considered to represent the culture of ancient Greece during the classical period because it was then that there was a flowering of the development of wisdom. Most of these developments were associated with Athens, the city of Athena. Schools began in Sparta but in Athens the number of subjects studied expanded and the length of schooling extended to advanced learning. The schools of Plato and Aristotle established Athens as the place to go for learning for almost 1000 years. And then for the next 1000 years schools around the world focused on what had been developed in Athens. The conquests of Alexander spread this learning deep into the east to India and beyond. The students of these schools spread out over the Roman Empire to spread the Greek learning over the Western World. Studies that they spread included the foundations of mathematics, science, medicine, and philosophy.
It is easy to praise ancient Athens as the founder of modern scholarship. But one cannot forget the miracle of the defeat of the Persian army in their attempt to conquer Greece on two separate occasions. Even the ancient Greeks knew that the victory was a result of superior strategy and not force of arms. And so they were grateful to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and strategy, for providing that victory. They built the Parthenon to show their appreciation. It may be that the flowering of Athens of that time resulted from an appreciation to Athena for this victory. Without this victory there would have been no flowering.