Mythological Character in Past and Present
Athena was a virgin Greek goddess of intelligent activity, reason, literature and arts. She was the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and her birth was unique because she did not have a mother. Instead, she sprung from Zeus’ forehead fully grown and clad in armor (Stehle, 2013). Athena was brave and fierce in battle, but she only participated in battles that defended the home and state from outside enemies. Her powers were mainly in defense of Athens. Other powers she possessed were wisdom and women’s craft. Athena was a virgin warrior goddess she was amongst many throughout the world mythologies. Athena invented the bridle and it was used by men to tame horses. She also invented the flute, the pot, the plow, the rake, the yoke, the chariot, and the ship. Athena was Zeus’ favorite child and she was permitted to use his weapons. She was often symbolized as an owl and the olive tree was her holy tree.
Some of the famous myths associated with Athena are her birth from the forehead of her father Zeus, where she was fully grown and clad in armor. Another myth talks of her contest with Poseidon for the domination of Athens. In the contest, she produced the first olive tree and Poseidon produced the first horse. There was an attempted rape of Athena by Hephaistos, but he spill his seed on the earth and produced Erikhthonios, who was adopted by Athena as her own. She maintained her virginity and was able to fight off her rapist. Athena was a companion of heroes and she possessed strategic skills in warfare. She would champion many heroes offering them protection and advice. Athena would assume various shapes of men, women, and children in order to guide the wandering Odysseus. The protection she offered allowed the suffering hero to return safely home. Nike the goddess who personified Winged Victory mostly accompanied Athena. This was not so surprising since Athena never lost a battle.
Other gods and mortals called upon Athena to settle disputes because of the wisdom she possessed frequently (Azad, Barua, & Sultana, 2014). She was well-known for her superb intellect and logic. The decisions she made were well thought, highly ethical, and rarely motivated by self-interest. This allowed others to seek her counsel in resolving any disputes. The decisions she made not only demonstrated her wisdom, but they also disclose her great compassion. The best myth to demonstrate her compassion was when a man called Teiresias had walked in accidentally upon Athena while she was bathing, this was an act punished by death, but Athena was merciful on him. Athena did not wish death on him, she instead used her hands to cover his eyes, which simultaneously blinded him and gave him inner sight (gift of prophecy). Teiresias became one of the most revered oracles in Greece.
Reimagining of Athena
The poem Athena by Amy Clampitt has correctly adapted the myth as it is depicted in history. She has managed to capture the various aspects of the Athena myth and demonstrate the same within her poem. The second stanza of the poem demonstrates the strength possessed by Athena, when the poet states that Athena was the rock the city was built upon (Clampitt, 1997). This was in reference to the city of Athens, which is named after Athena. Athena was a strategist and the poet has managed to portray this by stating that she had a mind that can make a scheme of anything. The wisdom she possessed has been captured creatively within the poem and the poet understands the myths associated with Athena. The artist has not made any changes to the myth of Athena, which is vital because it does not create confusion. Based upon what she understands about the myth, Amy has been able to convey a subtle message in an artistic manner. Adopting the myth is vital for the poem because it demonstrates the poets understanding of the myth. without understanding the myth one cannot manage to alter or adapt to it in the same manner the poet has done. Beneficial to the poem is the fact that the author not only adapts, but also presents the mythology in an interesting light. The wording used by the poet can be misleading to someone who does not understand the myth. The depiction of the myth in historical articles is different, but the basis is mostly similar. The poet has incorporated the various myths associated with Athena and has managed to capture the essence of the myth.
The poet has portrayed the myths associated with Athena in a different light. This is beneficial to easily understand the different myths and easily comprehend what she was all about. The poet has managed to portray Athena as a wise goddess, but also as a cruel and ruthless warrior. According to the myth, Athena was mainly accompanied by Nike goddess, which ensured her victory in all battles. The poet has portrayed this in a different manner by stating that she could not be killed, but she could kill. This is an interesting twist to the mythology because it shows Athena as an immortal. However, according to myth, she was a goddess and the only reason she won most of her battles was because of her companion. The mythological figure is portrayed as harsh while the myth portrays her as been compassionate. The poet demonstrates Athena in a different light than the myth. Amy has managed to portray her as a true goddess who no one can elude. People have always wanted to have a replica of her and they have hankered upon her counterfeits.
Current cultural phenomenon
Athena is associated with the owl and olive tree. The owl is an animal that it well know for its wisdom and craftiness. Owls have the ability to rotate their heads 270 degrees, which indicates it can see its surrounding easily without having to keep on moving. Athena had the ability to see things from different perspectives at the same time. In modern culture, Athena has been demonstrated in various comics like the Marvel comics and The Harry Potter series. In both this comics the characters are portrayed as being brave just like in the Greek mythology. Making use of the mythology has allowed us to view the characters in different light but with similar characteristics. The use of comics has gained prevalence in modern culture especially with young adults and computer geeks. They have managed to create a fantasy world where they feel they can fit in easily. The fantasy world has numerous characters that the people can relate with easily. The comics have managed to offer the participants an opportunity to interact and associate with the comics based on their mythology.
Comic books have been gaining prominence in the recent past, which has resulted in numerous people adopting and associating with comics. The love of comics is not easy to understand because culturally they have been associated with children. Other adults cannot understand the reasoning behind an adult loving comic, which creates a segregation. Comic book lovers have created groups and cult like followings that allow them to interact and dress in their favorite comic attire. Most of the comics are derived from ancient mythology like that of Athena. Athena is portrayed as a brave character, which ensures that most people can associate with her in various forms. Cowardice people will use her character to present themselves as being brave.
In the Marvel comics Athena is referred to as Thena, and she does cause a lot of confusion. She does not fully adopt the myth of Athena, but she does demonstrate some incredible powers and bravery. Allowing her to portray some traits of Athena does demonstrate the different myths surrounding her and the Marvel comics attempt to adapt some of the features and make additional ones based on the modern culture. Using these new adaptations one is forced to reevaluate the myth in an attempt to understand it better and relate it to the current icon. Rethinking the myth is also based upon the current culture and one can forget some of the things that happened in the past regarding the myth. To ensure that one not only follows what has been said in the past, the adaptations force us to question and think harder in regards to the myths.
The reimaging of this myth plays a vital role in our culture because it offers hope to the weak and allows them to believe in a better place or world. Using the Marvel comic’s one is able to disappear in a world where they can live their life without having to disclose their identity. The myth serves a great purpose because it demonstrates that there are many ways to win a battle and not with fighting alone. Athena tried her level best to prevent wars, and she would employ her wisdom to drive her point home. However, if this failed she would enter the battlefield with all her might and she always emerged victorious. In our current society, people are ready to fight without analyzing all the information, but if they followed the steps of Athena, they would easily avoid the hatred and war.
Azad, M. M., Barua, A., & Sultana, S. (2014). A Review Analysis of Ancient Greek Architecture. Civil and Environmental Research, 6(11), 95-103.
Clampitt, A. (1997). Athena. from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/25290#poem
Stehle, E. (2013). Athena. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History.
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