Mythology and Athens

Mythology and Athens

Being the capital of Greece, Athens has continuously been inhabited for over 7000 years. It competed to be the ruler city among other Greek city-states, such as Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth.

Providing the backdrop for various legends and myths for ancient Greeks, Athens was named after and became the patron city of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. Goddess Athena became the protector of Athens city after a contest with the god Poseidon.

Athena and her uncle Poseidon were both very fond of a certain city in Greece. The myth says that they competed for who will be honored as  the patron-protector of the city. Both of them claimed the city and it was decided that the one that could give the finest gift should have it. Leading a procession of citizens, the 2 gods mounted the Acropolis.

Poseidon struck the side of the cliff with his trident and a spring welled up, simply stating that the city would have a forceful naval military power. The people marveled, but the water was as salty as Poseidon's sea and it was not very useful.

On the other hand, it was Athena that offered the olive tree, symbolizing prosperity and peace. Her endowment was considered superior because it gave the people food, oil and wood.

The Athenians, then led by their king, King Cecrops I, took Athena's gift and made her the patron-protector goddess of their city. Consequently, the goddess named her city Athens.

The city was also the starting point for the story of Aegeus and Theseus. Aegeus was the king of Athens; during some games that were organized in the city, the son of King Minos of Crete was killed, and Minos waged war against Athens, emerging victorious.

As punishment, Aegeus was forced to send young men and young women to Crete annually, to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, who dwelt in the labyrinth under the palace of Minos. At some point, though, Theseus, son of Aegeus, decided to go as part of the sacrifice, planning to kill the Minotaur.

He was successful in his quest, but upon returning to Athens, he forgot to change his ship's sails to white; when Aegeus saw the black sails, meaning that Theseus had died in the labyrinth, he fell into the sea and drowned, giving his name to what now is called the Aegean Sea. 

▶︎ Mythology and Athens
▶︎ The 12 Gods of Greek Mythology


▶︎ More: Ancient Period of Athens, Figures of Ancient Period, Byzantine Period of Athens, Figures of Byzantine Period, Modern History of Athens, Figures of the 19th Century, Figures of the 20th Century, Greek Mythology, Historical Specials