Thursday, December 01, 2011

December 1 was the Day of Pallas Athena


It's a big day, here in Australia. We call it the first day of Summer. You can read about our unique way of naming the four seasons at December 1, at But for the ancients, it was also a special day. Read on:

Day of Pallas Athena or Minerva, ancient Greece/Rome
Maiden Goddess of Knowledge and Truth. 
(Source: The Phoenix and Arabeth 1992 Calendar)
The city of Pallas Athena
The goddess Pallas Athena was fond of building towns. One day she said to the people of a fishing village, "Raise me a temple on the hill and I will be your protector forever". This they did, until the god of the sea, Poseidon, called out that as he was the only one who had watched the town being built, he should have the honour of naming rights (Poseidon had a savvy public relations consultant), or else he would unleash such tempests that the whole Earth would be swallowed up (PR was even more evil and destructive in those days, if that can be possible). 
But Pallas Athena answered him: "If this place is destroyed, it will not belong to either of us. Let each of us give a gift to the citizens, and let them decide on the naming honour." 
Poseidon struck the sea with his trident (the pitchfork, not the missile), and a fine horse galloped out from the waves, at which sight the people marvelled. In response, Pallas touched a blade of grass, whereupon an olive tree grew up suddenly.

The people cried out blessings on the olive tree, because it would provide food and oil for their lamps. "More precious than the horse is the olive!" they cried. Thus the new town was named Athens, in honour of the wise goddess. And to this day, Athens produces far better oil from the olive than the horse ...


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker