Wednesday, 28 January 2015

What is Greek Athena?

I'm currently looking at a piece by Fritz Graf for the first time in several years. It examines the relationship between Athena and Minerva and demonstrates how such a comparision depends upon sorting out what it means for there to be a Greek goddess, Athena, in the first place. The following consideration of what 'Greek Athena' means cuts through a lot of thinking about what it means to talk about a Greek goddess named Athena. There isn't one, there is one - it depends on how one looks:

"Greek Athena" is an abstraction from the many forms the goddess had in the single poleis of the Greek world (139).

Abstraction/many... single/poleis... This negotiation between singularity and multifacetedness could provide a starting point for studies of the goddess - and of other deities - from various angles.


Graf, F. 2001. “Athena and Minerva: two faces of one goddess?” In Athena in the classical world. Edited by S. Deacy and A. Villing 127-39. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.

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