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The Goddess Athena

The characteristics associated with the goddess Athena are positive and could be acceptable in a partner, though there are also negative aspects. The idea of living as Athena means living in one's head and acting purposefully in the world. Bolen says that such a woman lives for her work. She does enjoy the companionship of others, but she may lack emotional intensity. This is what comes from exclusive identification with the goddess Athena, of course, and Bolen notes that a woman could have the characteristics of Athena and yet develop other characteristics as well through the gradual application of her sensitivities. Bolen calls this growing beyond Athena, and she says it can come unexpectedly or traumatically "under the pressure of circumstances that flood her with feelings from the unconscious" (Bolen 100). Short of this, though, the Athena woman lives in her mind and misses the experience of being fully in her body, as bolen puts it: "She knows little about sensuality and what it feels like to push her body to its limits" (Bolen 100). This other aspect of personality can be developed, however.

Among the depictions of Athena is one from the east frieze of the Parthenon (c. 442-438 B.C.) which depicts Athena and several other denizens of Mt. Olympus. Athena is seen off to herself behind Hephaestus. A Roman copy of Athena of the Piraeus by Kephisodotos (date unknown) is in the Louvre and shows the goddess in a characteristic pose, with her left hand held out and with a heavy cap on her head. Her attitude is powerful and assured, in keeping with the characteristics ascribed to her.

Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984.


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