The Ancient Library

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she used as her aegis, and whose wings she fasten­ed to her own feet. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 1. c.; Cic. de Nat. Dear. iii. 23.) A third tradition carries us to Libya, and calls Athena a daughter of Poseidon and Tritonis. Athena, says Herodotus (iv. 180), on one occasion became angry with her father and went to Zeus, who made her his own daughter. This passage shews more clearly than any other the manner in which genuine and ancient Hellenic myths were transplanted to Libya, where they were afterwards regarded as the sources of Hel­lenic ones. Respecting this Libyan Athena, it is farther related, that she was educated by the river-god Triton, together with his own daughter Pallas. (Apollod. iii. 12. § 3.) In Libya she was also said to have invented the flute; for when Perseus had cut off the head of Medusa, and Stheno and Euryale, the sisters of Medusa, lamented her death, while plaintive sounds issued from the mouths of the serpents which surrounded their heads, Athena is said to have imitated these sounds on a reed. (Pind. Pytli. xii. 19, &c. ; compare the other ac­counts in Hygin. Fab. 165 ; Apollod. i. 4. § 2 ; Paus. i. 24. § 1.) The connexion of Athena with Triton and Tritonis caused afterwards the various traditions about her birth-place, so that wherever there was a river or a well of that name, as in Crete, Thessaly, Boeotia, Arcadia, and Egypt, the inhabitants of those districts asserted that Athena was born there. It is from such birth-places on a river Triton that she seems to have been called Tritonis or Tritogeneia (Paus. ix. 33. § 5), though it should be observed that this surname is also ex­plained in other ways ; for some derive it from an ancient Cretan, Aeolic, or Boeotian word, t/>itco, signifying " head," so that it would mean " the goddess born from the head," and others think that it was intended to commemorate the circum­stance of her being born on the third day of the month. (Tztez. ad Lycoph. 519.) The connexion of Athena with Triton naturally suggests, that we have to look for the most ancient seat of her wor­ship in Greece to the banks of the river Triton in Boeotia, which emptied itself into lake Copais, and on which there were two ancient Pelasgian towns, Athenae and Eleusis, which were according to tradition swallowed up by the lake. From thence her worship was carried by the Minyans into Attica, Libya, and other countries. (Miiller, OrcJiom. p. 355.) We must lastly notice one tradition, which made Athena a daughter of Ito-nius and sister of lodama, who was killed by Athena (Pans. ix. 34. § 1; Tzetz. adLycopk.355)) and another according to which she was the daughter of Hephaestus.

These various traditions about Athena arose, as in most other cases, from local legends and from identifications of the Greek Athena with other divinities. The common notion which the Greeks entertained about her, and which was most widely spread in the ancient world, is, that she was .the daughter of Zeus, and if we take Metis to have been her mother, we have at once the clue to the character which she bears in the religion of Greece ; for, as her father was the most powerful and her mother the wisest among the gods, so Athena was a combination of the two, that is, a goddess in whom power and wisdom were harmoniously blended. From this fundamental idea may be de­rived the various aspects under which she appears in the ancient writers. She seems to have been


a divinity of a purely ethical character, and not the representative of any particular physical power manifested in nature ; her power and wisdom ap­pear in her being the protectress and preserver of the state and of social institutions. Everything, therefore, which gives to the state strength and prosperity, such as agriculture, inventions, and in­dustry, as well as everything which preserves and protects it from injurious .influence from without, such as the defence of the walls, fortresses, and harbours, is under her immediate care.

As the protectress of agriculture, Athena is re­presented as the inventor of the plough and rake : she created the olive tree, the greatest blessing of Attica, taught the people to yoke oxen to the plough, took care of the breeding of horses, and instructed men how to tame them by the bridle, her own invention. Allusions to this feature of her character are contained in the epithets /3ouJ5e/.a, J3oap/Jila, dypitya, i-jnria, or xaAfVrm. (Eustath. ad Horn. p. 1076 ; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 520; Hesych. s. v. 'iTTiria ; Serv. ad Aen. iv. 402 ; Pind. Ol. xiii, 79.) At the beginning of spring thanks were offered to her in advance (Trpoxapjtrrrfpta, Suid. s.v.) for the protection she was to afford to the fields. Besides the inventions relating to agriculture, others also connected with various kinds of science, industry, and art, are ascribed to her, and all her inventions are not of the kind which men make by chance or accident, but such as require thought and meditation. We may notice the invention of numbers (Liv. vii. 3), of the trumpet (Bockh, ad Pind. p. 344), the chariot, and navigation. [AE-thyia.] In regard to all kinds of useful arts, she was believed to have made men acquainted with the means and instruments which are necessary for practising them, such as the art of producing fire. She was further believed to have invented nearly every kind of work in which, women were employed, and she herself was skilled in such work : in short Athena and Hephaestus were the great patrons both of the useful and elegant arts. Hence she is called epywri (Paus. i. 24. § 3), and later writers make her the goddess of all wisdom, knowledge, and art, and represent her as sitting on the right hand side of her father Zeus, and sup­porting him with her counsel. (Horn. Od. xxiii, 160, xviii. 190; Hymn, in Ven. 4, 7,-&c. ; Pint. Cim. 10 ; Ovid, Fast. iii. 833 ; Orph. Hymn. xxxi. 8 ; Spanh. ad Callim. p. 643 ; Horat. Carm. i, 12. 19; comp. Diet, of Ant. under 'AOijvcua and XaA/ce?a.) As the goddess who made so many inventions necessary and useful in civilized life, she is characterized by various epithets and sur­names, expressing the keenness of her sight or the power of her intellect, such as

, and

As the patron divinity of the state, she was at Athens the protectress of the phratries and houses which formed the basis of the state. The festival of the Apaturia had a direct reference to this par­ticular point in the character of the goddess. (Diet. of Ant. s. v. Apaturia.} She also maintained the authority of the law, and justice, and order, in the courts and the assembly of the people. This notion was as ancient as the Homeric poems, in which she is described as assisting Odysseus against the law­less conduct of the suitors. (Od. xiii. 394.) She was believed to have instituted the ancient court of the Areiopagus, and in cases where the votes. of

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