Final Piece: Athena

Athena Parthenos Reconstruction

Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. She is seen as an important goddess as she was born from Zeus after he experienced a headache and she came through his head, fully grown and wearing a full set of armour. She is known specifically for her strategic skill in warfare and is often portrayed as a companion of heroes and is the patron goddess of heroic endeavour. She helped Perseus in his quest to kill Medusa by giving him a polished shield so that he could see Medusa as if he was looking in a mirror, preventing him from turning to stone. She also guided his hand when he was cutting off her head. She also helped Hercules when, as a part of his twelve labours, he was required to drive away from the Stymphalian birds. She got them moving, and Hercules shot them. Objects associated with Athena include an owl – the symbol of wisdom – and the olive tree. She is often depicted in art with armour, a golden helmet, a shield, and holding a spear. The most famous representation of Athena in the ancient world was the monumental gold and ivory statue of the goddess by Pheidias which resided in the Parthenon of Athens and was over 12 m high. The statue has been lost but survives in the form of smaller Roman copies and shows Athena standing majestic, fully armed, holding Nike (the goddess of victory) in her right hand and with a shield in her left depicting scenes from the Battles of the Amazons and the Giants. On her helmet were Sphinx and two gryphons.

 

Pergamon Altar. Athena against the giant Alcyoneus.

The Pergamon Altar is a monumental construction built during the reign of King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon. The base is decorated with a frieze in high relief showing the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods known as the Gigantomachy. One of the panels shows an especially important battle scene. Athena, the city goddess of Pergamon, breaks the Giant Alkyoneus’ contact to the earth, from which the mother of the Giants, Gaia, emerges. According to legend, Alkyoneus was immortal only as long as he touched the ground, where the power of his mother could flow through him. 

I chose Athena as a symbol of chaos in my final piece, as even though she represents the strategy of war, she still fought bloody battles and caused chaos for mortals who got in her way, such as the weaver Arachne, who she turned into a spider for weaving better than her.

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