In ancient Athens, maybe about 2500 years ago, a teenage boy of about 12 was just stepping outdoors, into the bright morning sunshine…
Unlike his Roman counterpart, maybe a thousand years later, he wasn’t dreaming of becoming a great political orator standing on the Rostra in the open marketplace of a nation’s capitol. He wasn’t thinking of swaying a desparate, needy audience by the sheer power of his voice, by the chance drawing of two or three supporting soldiers in his direction…this wasn’t a Greek way of thinking!
No, his dreams were different… Standing before the steps of the Parthenon, the temple of his Goddess, watching over the city with her powers of intelligence and vastness of mind, setting the stage for the great, and daily events soon to take place exactly where he was standing…
Debates. They would start unnoticed, building up an intricate structure of ever-fascinating and unearthly polarizing viewpoints. The olympics of the mind, unfolding before the powerful, penetrating energy of the sun, as it crossed the sky, drawn by the invisible chariots of the Great Muse.
Men and women of learned renoun would stand and sit upon these steps, discussing…
It was a matter of pride and favor before the Gods, to reflect on the holistic picture of Creation whilst representing the most extreme and farthest-reaching viewpoints of their perception of it…
One of these striving young leaders would contemplate the moon’s journey across the sky, and the predictable response in the moisture levels of the natural foliage and materials aruond them. The other would respond with a similarly universal summary of creation, and by pointing out the moon’s destructive influence during flooding, or the unpredictable shifts of behavior people and animals would display, when its round face was luminescent and full…
There were no rules, save the unwritten ones….
Each discussion was considered to have the power of oracle, provided the holistic oneness of the Gods and their creation were laid as an opening foundation, giving the event their blessing and their power…
It was a sign of superior intelligence, when the debate could be turned, with the fullest focus on the Whole, to the specifics of a Detail or Property of the Whole, whereby both were spanned without interruption.
The topics could range from the problems of an advanced society to the lack of rain before the fall harvest…
The canvas, prepared for the painting; the creation of a Viewpoint!
A viewpoint of vast scope, in that it was directly tied to universal reality at the highest possible level of perception and consciousness, and earthly bound by its lowest level of a humanly experienced problem or subject.
The art of a mental masterpiece:
A Philosophy was born…
That young lad strolled around the Parthenon all morning…..
He just watched. And listened.
An interesting process was taking place inside him.
His mind was expanding…..
A few years later, you could find him there, expounding on his scrolls and tablets, sharing the treasure he’d been able to encompass in his formative years. He was quite the wizard at astronomy and all things pertaining to the influence of the sun and nearby planets. His work included cause and effect observations about the fields of influence of celestial bodies at a larger scale, and in time, he was able to pinpoint effects at an almost microscopic scale, without forgetting his own experiences in tegards to these!
This was before the days of dissection and dissembly, an artificial way of breaking theorems down in a search for hard, doubly- and tripley proven facts, which reminds of the Alice-in -Wonderland story, where Alice dreamed of falling through a mole-hole, lined with cupboards.
These were chockfull of interesting things, untill she began to try to fix one with her eyes, to determine EXACTLY what was in it. She saw an empty space, all the surrounding ones were still chock-full!
Sounds like empty fantasy?
What about that which quantum physics has shown us about the way we post-Roman citizens fixate the world?
The particle is broken down, and broken down again, revealing an ever-increasing matter percentage of…..
Has the Greek way of thinking something to offer us in this dilemma?
Philosophy. The Greek lad’s father had already taught him this;
This was the medal of honor which the dwellers on the Olymp bestowed upon their mortal counterparts, once in a while…
ATHENA, GODDESS AT THE PARTHENON
Worshipped in this temple, she was the Goddess of Wisdom, Strategy and Contention.
It can be seen how the ancient Greek culture was characterized by the appreciation of the world’s polarities, contrary discourse, debate and the sharpening of the mind through practiced statement and opposition, with a searching spirit always seeking to appreciate the Big Picture, by virtue of its properties and polarity.
This way of thinking was much more than rote logic. The power of art, of craft and handiwork was interwoven with the growing theses about the miracle called life. The two sides to Athena, which made her a charismatic and brilliant being.
Phidias, the Greek sculptor, was the creator of many famous statues of this figure throughout the Acropolis.
The largest of these, Athena Promachos ( the aforegoing warrior Athena), shows her in full combat armour.
Another equally famous one, the Chryselephantine Colossal Statue of Athena Parthenos ( the virgin Athena), was also located in the Parthenon.
Again, the scope and aura of this goddess are visibly comprised of two polarities, two vastly extreme opposites working together to produce this singular mystery, a godlike being in human form…
Athena is the patron Goddess of the city of Athens. She is also known as fulfilling this duty at the side of Odysseus, in the Trojan War. She helps him defend the Greek empire against the onslought of its enemies, bravely accompanying Odysseus, dangerous exploits.
She was the daughter of two famous God figures of the Olymp, Zeus and Metis.
Legend has it, that Zeus consumed the pregnant Metis ( who was expecting twins), because of a prophecy that a daughter would equal him in renown, but a son would overthrow him…
After committing this deed, he is said to hace suffered a severe headache, upon which he ordered Hephaistos, the God of Fire, to smash his head open.
As a father of the Gods, of course, he survived this attack, and out of his head was born Athena, in full combat armour. As the offspring of a head birth, she became known as the embodiment of mental prowess, wisdom and intelligence.
The legend states that her twin brother remained unborn in the body of his mother, and he did not receive a name.
Her adoptive father was the Ocean God Triton, who also had a daughter, whose name was Pallas.
The two grew up side by side.
During a speer-throwing competition, Athena accidentally killed Pallas.
In memory of her, she created the statue Palladion, and re-named herself Pallas Athena.
Like so many Greek goddesses, Athena had a short temper.
This becomes evident, as Arachne, claiming to be the better woman at the art of weaving, was changed into a spider.
Hence comes our term : “Arachnophobia”, the fear of spiders…
Athena never had a love affair, which may be the reason she was referred to as Athena Parthenos, the Virgin Goddess.
Another legend has it that the God Poseidon and Athena both wanted the position of rulership over a certain city.
So they competed: whoever presented the city the greater gift, would win.
Poseidon’s contribution was a fountain, which however, produced only salt water.
Athena presented an olive tree, which provides the value of wood and olives.
So, we know who won that competition, when we see what the Capitol of Greece is now called!
This temple of Athena was constructed more than 2500 years ago.
An open question remains to be answered: how did the ancient Greek civilization build this structure of monumental dimension and craftsmanship, without modern machines to aid them?
This building, in the course of its lengthy history, has been under gunfire, set aflame, shaken by earthquakes, its sculptures have been stolen and it’s been disfigured by grotesque forms of “renovation”…
And still remains a recognizable tribute to a timeless Goddess, amidst the wonders of the Acropolis…….
I hope you have enjoyed reading about this great cultural and religious relic of the antique, as much as I enjoyed writing about it!