THE MYTH IN ANCIENT LITERATURE

HOMER, Iliad V: 870 - 880

870 He (Ares) showed him the immortal blood running from his wound
     and in a dismal tone without mincing words said:
     "Father Zeus, are you not indignant at seeing
     these violent deeds? We gods constantly suffer
     most cruelly by one anothers devices when we
875 show favour to men. With you we are all at war,
     for you are father to that mad and accursed maid,
     whose mind is always set on deeds of lawlessness.
     For all the other gods who are in the Olympus
     are obedient to you, and subject to you, each one of us;
     but her you do not oppose either in word or in deed,
880 but rather incite her, since this destructive maiden is
     your own child."

HESIOD, Theogony 886-900, 924-929

886 Now Zeus, king of the gods, made Metis his wife first,
     and she was wisest among gods and men.
     But when she was about to bring forth the goddess
     bright-eyed Athene, Zeus craftily deceived her
890 with cunning words and put her in his own belly,
     as Earth and starry Heaven advised.
     For they advised him so, to the end that no other
     should hold his royal sway over the eternal gods
     in place of Zeus; for very wise children were destined
     to be born of her, first the maiden bright-eyed Athene
     equal to her father in strength and in wise understanding.
     But afterwards she was to bear a son of overbearing
     spirit, king of gods and men. But Zeus put her into his own belly first,
900 that the goddess might devise for him both, good and evil....

924 But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head
     to bright-eyed Athena, the awful, the strife-stirring,
     the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights
     in tumults and wars and battles. But Hera without union
     with Zeus - for she was very angry and quarrelled
     with her mate - bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in
     crafts more than all the sons of Heaven.

HYMN. HOM. III: To Apollo

     .................................Typhaon
307 Once on a time Hera bare him because
     she was angry with father Zeus,
     when the son of Cronos bare
     all-glorious Athena in his head
310 Thereupon queenly Hera was angry and
     spoke thus among the assembled gods:
     "Hear from me, all gods and goddesses
     how cloudgathering Zeus begins to dishonour me
     wantonly, when he has made me his true-hearted wife.
     See now, apart from me he has given birth to
     bright-eyed Athena who is foremost among
     all the blessed gods.

323 How dared you by yourself give birth to
     bright-eyed Athena?

HYMN. HOM. XXVIII: To Athena, 1-18.

     I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess,
     bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin,
     saviour of cities, courageous, Tritogeneia.
     From his awful head wise Zeus himself
     bare her arrayed in warlike arms of flashing gold,
     and awe seized all the gods as they gazed.
     But Athena sprang quickly from the immortal head
     and stood before Zeus who holds the aegis,
     shaking a sharp spear: great Olympus began to reel horribly
     at the might of the bright-eyed goddess, and
     earth round about cried fearfully, and the sea
     was moved and tossed with dark waves
     while foam burst forth suddenly: the bright Son
     of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses
     a long while, until the maiden Pallas Athena had stripped
     the heavenly armour from her immortal shoulders.
     And wise Zeus was glad . And so hail to you,
     daughter of Zeus, who holds the aigis. Now I will
     remember you and another song as well.

Other relevant texts:

Apollonius Rhod. Argonautika IV 1308vv.

1308 ...but as they (the heroes) pined in despair
     the heroine-nymphs, warders of Libya, had pity on them,
     they who once found Athena, what time she leapt
     in gleaming armour from her fatherís head,
     and bathed her by Tritoís waters.

Pindaros

31   (told him to sail from the shore of Lerna)
     straight to the seagirt pasture,
     where once the great king of the gods
     showered the city with snows of gold
     when by the skills of Hephaistos
     with the stroke of a bronze-forged axe
     Athena sprang forth on the top of
     her fatherís head and
     shouted a prodigious battle cry and
     heaven shuddered at her and mother Earth...

Pausanias

I 24.5   All the figures in the gable over the entrance of what is called the Parthenon
    relate to the birth of Athena....


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© KOINONIA A.E.J. Kaal, 2001.