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Worshipping Athena: Panathenaia and Parthenon

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2003

    Rock-Solid Scholarship

    In the center of the west pediment of the Parthenon in Athens, Athena and Poseidon stood facing each other. Greek myth says they participated in a contest to see who would be the dominant deity in the city and throughout the surrounding region. It was said that Poseidon placed a salt water spring on the Akropolis (the high place of the city) as his gift, and Athena offered the olive tree. The citizens preferred Athena¿s gift and made her their primary goddess. Athena¿s gift makes sense if we relate it to the Book of Genesis. There, the dove returns to Noah with a torn-off olive leaf in its beak, and the olive tree became a sign of the new age after the Flood. Athena takes the olive tree as her own symbol, thus establishing herself as humanity¿s source of enlightenment. Poseidon¿s gift of a salt spring on the Akropolis, however, is a worthless offering to the people of Athens. It must mean something else. In Worshipping Athena, contributor Noel Robertson relates that no well of any kind exists on the top of the Akropolis, and concludes that ¿this strange well with sea-water did not go down very far; perhaps it was more of a basin.¿ This crucial bit of research helps substantiate my theory that, rather than depicting a preposterous contest between deities, the west pediment of the Parthenon portrayed part of humanity¿s history¿the Flood and its aftermath. Poseidon is the god of the power of the sea. During the Flood, he covered the Akropolis. What Poseidon left behind as his waters receded was a basin, or pool, of salt water¿not a spring. Thank you, Mr. Robertson. Upon the sea god¿s departure, the goddess Athena usurped the symbol of the olive tree and began her rule of the new Greek age. Greek myth has Athena being born full-grown out of Zeus, an event pictured on a great many surviving vases, and in the center of the east pediment of the Parthenon. As I point out in my book, Athena and Eden: The Hidden Meaning of the Parthenon¿s East Facade, this is a picture of Eve being born full-grown out of Adam, and thus Athena¿s birth actually represents the rebirth of the serpent¿s Eve after the Flood. I am a Parthenon iconographer by profession, studying the meaning of the sculptures which adorned Athena¿s great temple. I rely on rock-solid scholarship. This is exactly what the contributors (Jenifer Neils, Erika Simon, Noel Robertson, Mary R. Lefkowitz, Alan L. Boegehold, Donald G. Kyle, Richard Hamilton, Michalis Tiverios, Evelyn B. Harrison, and H. A. Shapiro) supply in Worshipping Athena. They are among the very best of the best.

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