Athena’s Relationship with Other Gods and Goddesses

Athena’s Relationships with Other Gods and Goddesses
by JewelofAset

Relationship with Zeus
At Athena’s birth, she sprung forth from Zeus’s head in full armor, her war cry resounding through the Heavens and Earth. Zeus bestowed upon her these honors: his Aegis and she alone save Zeus can wield the power of the Thunderbolt.

Both of them can bring storms to those at sea. Zeus and Athena shared many epithets and spheres of expertise.

Deacy states them as (Athena/Zeus):
Savior (Soteria/Soter), Of the Council (Boulaia/Boulaios), Of the Olive Tree (Moria/Morios), Founder of the City (Archegetes/Archegetis), Of the City (Polias/Polieus) and patrons of Phratries (Phratria/Phratrios) (1).

Relationship with Hera
Hera as the wife of Zeus would be Athena’s “Mother” (Step-Mother in our parlance). In Hera’s Temple at Olympia there was a statue of Athena wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and shield (2). Within the Illiad, Hera’s dress was hand woven by Athena for her (3).

At the Proteleia Festival, a Priestess of Athena gave Athena a sacrifice or offering to aid in the marriages, fertility and childbearing of young brides. Hera as the Goddess of Marriage par excellence would have most likely been given a sacrifice as well (4). This is an example of where their cults may have intersected.

Both Goddesses are also patrons of housewives, domestic work and the tending of the home.

Relationship with Ares
Athena is a deity of war. She is both the goddess of just war and the horrors of war. Ares is the god of war, par excellence, while Athena is a goddess of war when it is necessary. She is the goddess of war and has many other attributes. At Olympia, Athena Hippia and Ares Hippios were honored together as deities associated with horses (5). Both of these deities were associated with war. Athene was more associated with just or defensive war, while Ares was more linked to the bloodshed, carnage and chaos of war.

Relationship with Hygeia
Pausanias in his Description of Greece mentions that the goddess Hygeia (Health) is the daughter of Asklepios (Healing God) and Athena Hygeia (Health) (6).

Relationship with Poseidon
Both Athena and Poseidon wanted Athens to be their patron city. Each offered a gift to the city, Poseidon offered a body of water and Athena planted the first olive tree. The sea water would offer fish and some shipping expeditions at certain times of the year, and Athena’s olive tree would offer fruit, oil and wood. Athena was awarded the city. In anger, Poseidon flooded the plains (7). In another version of this myth, Poseidon offered the horse instead of the sea. He still lost to Athena (8).

On the Hill of Kolonos, Poseidon Hippios and Athena Hippia were worshipped together as deities related to horses (9). In one Libyan myth, Athena was blue-eyed as she was the daughter of Poseidon and Lake Tritonis (10).

Athena’s maritime attributes include building of ships, piloting vessels and navigation (11). She could brew up storms upon command; she destroyed ships returning from Troy after they had committed sacrilege in her temple (12).

Relationship with Hephaistos
Athena was a goddess who weaved her own clothing. As the patron of women who worked at the loom, she aided women in domestic chores in their homes or those who sold their woven crafts at the market (13). Hephaistos on the other hand was a god of the forge, metal working and smiths.

According to Deacy, the difference between Athena and Hephaistos was that the goddess’s crafts were made from wool and other animal parts while Hephaistos’s crafts were things made in a forge. They share a festival (the Chalkeia) where they are honored together as Holy Powers associated with blacksmiths and artisans (14).

Relationship with Hestia
Athene was associated with the work women did in the home. Hestia is the goddess of the home and hearth itself. These two have over-lapping influence here.

Both Goddesses had fires associated with them. Athena’s cult also contained a flame within an eschara vessel which was re-lit by a Priestess every day. The difference here between flame of Hestia and this flame of Athena was that Hestia’s was a perpetual flame while Athena’s was re-kindled daily (15). Also Athena’s name may mean “vessel containing a flame” which is what an eschara does while Hestia’s name means “hearth” which is where the fire was lit in the home (16).

Relationship to Erichthonois
After being rejected by Aphrodite, Hephaistos tried to have sex with Athena. His sperm ended up on her leg. In disgust, she wiped it off with some wool and threw it to the ground. In some versions of the story, the goddess Gaia came up from the earth and gave the baby Erichthonois to Athena. Athena gave him to some of her priestesses to raise in Athens. Erichthonois was kept in a box with a snake; the Priestesses were never to open it. Athena was trying to make her son immortal. Two of the priestesses opened the box.

The two women who opened the box were either killed by the snake or were driven mad by the goddess herself and flung themselves off the Akropolis (17). Athena then raised the child in her own temple. According to myth, Erichthonois placed the first statue of the goddess there and founded the festival of Panathenaia for Athena (18).

There was a snake-spirit who was the guardian of the Akropolis. Each month he was given a honey-cake to elicit his protection. There is a statue of Athena with a serpent. This serpent is believed to be the guardian-spirit.

Pausanias describes the snake of Athena Parthenos statue as Erichthonois. Erichthonois was both a ancestor raised by Athena and an guardian serpent spirit of the Akropolis who was petitioned to for protection (19).

Relationship with Hades
In the town of Koroneia in Boeotia, Athene was worshiped with Hades. Strabo says that it came about because of a spiritual or religious mystery. And in Plato’s Laws, the Athenian names Athena as “our Kore and Despoina” which means “our Persephone” (20). Kerenyi also states that both Persephone and Athena are associated with the pomegranate (21).

Sources

(1) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 78-79.

(2) Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 17. 2

(3) Neils, Jenifer. “Pride, Pomp and Circumstance,” in Worshiping Athena: Panathenaia and Parthenon. University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 196-197.

(4) Connelly, Joan Breton. Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. (Princeton University Press, 2007), 200.

(5) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 46.

(6) Pausanias. Description of Greece: Books 1-2. translated by W. H. S. Jones. (Loeb Classical Library, 1918; Harvard University Press, reprint), 117.

(7) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 79-80.

(8) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 46.

(9) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 46.

(10) Pausanias. Description of Greece: Books 1-2. translated by W. H. S. Jones. (Loeb Classical Library, 1918; Harvard University Press, reprint), 75. 1.14.6; Pausanias says that this was at a Temple of Hephaistos where the statue of Athena had blue eyes.

(11) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 49.

(12) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 49.

(13) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 51.

(14) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 52-53.

(15) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 35.

(16) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 30.

(17) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 80-83.

(18) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 85.

(19) Deacy, Susan. Athena. (Routledge, 2008), 88.

(20) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 32.

(21) Kerenyi, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother in Greek Religion. Translated by Murray Stein. (Spring Publications, 1988), 31-32.

Bright Week: Aspects of Aset; Aset vs. Isis

Aspects of Aset and Aset vs. Isis
by TahekerutAset

Aset is a multi-faceted Goddess who worship spanned for thousands of years with ancient Egyptians, Nubians, Greek and Romans all honoring Her in some way.
For the most part, Her ancient Egyptian attributes are as the mother and maker of kings, the Mother of Heru and the Goddess of the Throne, its sovereignty and lineage. Continue reading

Bright Week: Aset, Possessor of Strength

Aset, the Possessor of Strength

Aset is the Strongest of Goddesses as She is the one along with Set to destroy Ap-p during Ra’s Nightly Journey. In one myth, She stopped the Sun Boat to heal Heru-sa-Aset.

She mourned and worked through Her anguish when Wesir died and raised Her son as a single mother.

She is depicted wielding a scimitar, slaughtering the enemies of Her son or husband or Her Father Ra with flame.

At Aswan and Philae temples, Aset is called “Chief at the Head of the Army” and “Possessor of Strength”. She has a very bellicose nature here as these temples were positioned at country borders where enemies could invade.

Q&A Session

When have you asked Aset for strength? Who is Aset as a Goddess of strength and fortitude? How do you see Aset as a possessor of strength?

A note about my Aset research

A note about my Aset research:

1) I take from all time periods this includes Pre-dynastic, Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, the Intermediate Periods and the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods.

2) I try to take things that are in Egypt and in the ancient Egyptian languages from hieroglyphs to demotic. (Holidays are the only exception to this rule as I have some Greek and Roman dates and festivals on my calendar. Most of them are based on Egyptian myths so…the more holidays the merrier!).

3) Additions to Her attributes are fine as long as they have an ancient Egyptian precedent. So, Aset is called a Leopard in a hymn from the Temple of Philae and this is due to her aspect as an Eye of Ra. Leopards may not be Egyptian, but the Eye of Ra associated with Big Cats such as Lionesses is very much an Ancient Egyptian concept. So Aset is a Lioness and a Leopard to me. (And it is from the Temple of Philae, in Egypt and in hieroglyphs which helps).

4) My research leads me to Egyptology, archaeology and religious studies books and works by modern Kemetic and Tameran Pagan practitioners. And I cite as such.

And that’s all I can think of for now.

Proskynema for Aset

A proskynema is translated as “adoration” of a deity. On the Temple of Philae pilgrims left notes of when they had done a proskynema to the Goddess Aset. There is even a few papyri fragments which stated that Sarapis and Sobek were offered proskynema in one’s household (1).

Prosykensis
is a Greek word for adoration. These are sacred gestures meant to honor the Gods. These would be hand gestures done for the Hellenic deities or the Egyptian ones such as raising your palms to the sky for the Olympians or to the ground for the Deities or the Underworld or your palms facing the image of a deity. Or this would be a henu or dua gesture for the Egyptian deities as well as full prostration before the holy image or shrine (2).

This may also be in the context of a ritual where words were spoken, a gesture was performed and an offering was given. In some cases, this was every day so the offering would be something easily accessible such as wine or water or fruit or a grain such as bread or barley (3).

There are a few of these festivals that I know of so far. They are also listed on my festivals page here: Aset Festivals.

3 Peret/Pamenot/February
29-Adoration of Aset of the Many Names/Proskynema

4 Peret/Parmuthi/March
9 of March-Adoration of Aset, the very Great Goddess, Sovereign and Savior/Proskynema

In the descriptions of these events we have some epithets of the Goddess Aset. In one of them Aset is of the Many Names and this describes Her as a Goddess of many names and forms and epithets. You could honor Aset as a shapeshifter or recite a hymn with Her many epithets or aspects or forms mentioned like chapter 142 of the Book of the Dead or if you are more Classically inclined one of the Aretalogies.

In the next one Aset is honored as Aset, the very Great Goddess, Sovereign and Savior. Here She is described as supreme Goddess who is a Sovereign Queen and one who is a savior to Her people. She aids those who call upon Her. So you could honor Aset as a Great Lady with immense power and sovereignty. She is the one who saves those who call upon Her. She is the savior Goddess par excellence.

She did not stop searching for Her husband and She never stopped caring for Her son. And Her son stands in for everyone. Think about that a minute. She will aid and protect you as fiercely and as compassionately as She would Her son Heru. She is the single Mother who cares for millions.

Adoration to Aset. Homage to Aset.

May I bow before You in adoration and praise.

Sources

(1) Lewis, H. Jeremiah. The Balance of the Two Lands: Writings on Greco-Egyptian Polytheism. (Nysa Press, 2009), 39-40.

(2) Lewis, H. Jeremiah. The Balance of the Two Lands: Writings on Greco-Egyptian Polytheism. (Nysa Press, 2009), 141-142.

(3) Lewis, H. Jeremiah. The Balance of the Two Lands: Writings on Greco-Egyptian Polytheism. (Nysa Press, 2009), 39-40.

Aset with the Beautiful Throne

Aset was known through Egypt as a deity who healed or answered prayers in dreams or oracles. She would bestow blessings on those She favored or upon those who honored Her.

Aset or Isis Nepherses (Aset with the Beautiful Throne) from the Soknopaiou Nesos temple in the Fayyum is one such Goddess. Aset in Menouthis and Canope and Alexandria were also known for these feats.

For those who wish to honor Aset with the Beautiful Throne (Isis Nepherses) on Her feast days it is wonderful that we have this small glimpse of something that was specifically associated with Her in this particular form. I love this epithet (with the Beautiful Throne). It is one of my favorites. Besides being absolutely awesome, what can we do with it? What does it tell us about the Goddess in which we can honor Her with that particular aspect?

Mother of God is well, the Mother of Heru-sa-Aset or the King and everything associated with that. Fiercely Bright One has to do with Aset as a stellar or solar deity, among other things. Amenti has to do with Her as the Queen of the Ancestors and caretaker of the dead and is basically Lady of the West. Mourner is Aset as the mourning woman who is lamenting the death of Her husband. Widow is Her status as one who has lost a loved one. Queen of Heaven is Her as the Goddess of the star filled sky and the Star Goddess who rules over all the heavenly bodies.

With the Beautiful Throne, may be Her as a goddess of authority and beauty (and roses; there is 13 day Rhodophoria Festival mentioned in that Soknopaiou Nesos temple calendar). And now we have oracles and dream incubation to add to it. I just like that we have something specific for this particular aspect of Aset (Isis).

Festivals are as follows:

3rd Akhet/Hethara/October
17 to 20-Festival of Aset, with the Beautiful Throne (Isis Nepherses)

4th Akhet/Koiak/November
8 to 16-Festival of the Marriage of Aset, with the Beautiful Throne (Isis Nepherses), the Great Goddess

3 Shomu/Epiphi/June
26 of 3 Shomu to 15 of 4 Shomu-Festival of the Birth of Aset, with the Beautiful Throne (Isis Nepherses), the Great Goddess

The Festival of Aset, with the Beautiful Throne may have to do with Aset mourning for Wesir. Oracles or dreams may or may not be a peripheral part of this festival.

The Marriage festival is a marriage festival the lasted for 9 days. This of course honors the marriage of Aset and Wesir. Maybe you could do a divination with Their wedding cake? Seriously though, oracles and dreams may be a peripheral part of this festival as well.

The Birth of Aset Festival lasted 19 days. Lighting candles or lanterns and giving offerings to the Goddess are traditionally associated with Aset’s Birth Festivals in general. This would be a great time to do that and also ask for oracles and dreams from the Goddess.

These are just my suggestions. Everyone’s relationship with Her is different and as always, ask Aset.

Sources

Bricault, Laurent. Les Cultes Isiaques Dans Le Monde Greco-romain (La Roue a Livres / Documents Book 66). (Les Belles Lettres, 2013), 504.

Britcault, Laurent. “Isis Nepherses” in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years Part 1: Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur. edited by Willy Clarysse, Antoon Schoors and Harco Willems. Peeters, 1998, pp. 522-527.

Capron, Laurent. “Déclarations fiscales du Temple de Soknopaiou Nêsos: éléments nouveaux,” in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. Bd. 165, Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn (Germany). (2008), pp. 133-160.

J. Gwyn Griffiths, Apuleius of Madaurus: The Isis-Book: (Metamorphoses, Book XI) (Brill, 1975), pp 39; 159–161.

Perpillou-Thomas, Francoise. Fêtes d’Egypte ptolémaïque et romaine, d’après la documentation papyrologique grecque. (Studia Hellenistica Series 31). Peeters Publishers, 1993.