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date: 16 May 2021

Athenalocked

  • Robert Parker

Extract

In Iliad 5. 733–7, *Homer describes how Athena took off the finely-wrought robe ‘which she herself had made and worked at with her own hands’ and ‘armed herself for grievous war’. This incident encapsulates the paradoxical nature of a goddess who is as skilled in the preparation of clothes as she is fearless in battle; who thus unites in her person the characteristic excellences of both sexes. At the greater *Panathenaea in Athens, she was presented with a robe, the work of maidens' hands (see arrēphoria), which traditionally portrayed that battle of the gods and giants in which she was the outstanding warrior on the side of the gods.Her patronage of crafts is expressed in cults such as that of Athena Erganē, Athena the Craftswoman or Maker; it extends beyond the ‘works’ of women to carpentry, metalworking, and technology of every kind, so that at Athens she shared a temple and a festival with *Hephaestus and can, for instance, be seen on vases seated (in full armour!) in a pottery.

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