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Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Mythological Background: Birth and Character of Athena (Minerva) Minerva and Arachne Related Myths: Medusa,

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Presentation on theme: "Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Mythological Background: Birth and Character of Athena (Minerva) Minerva and Arachne Related Myths: Medusa,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Mythological Background: Birth and Character of Athena (Minerva) Minerva and Arachne Related Myths: Medusa, satyrs and Perseus Legends associated with the region of Lydia

2 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Birth of Athena (Greek: Minerva = Roman) Zeus (Jupiter) took as his wife Metis (an abstract name meaning “wisdom”) When Metis was about to give birth, Zeus swallowed her into his belly because it was told to Zeus that Metis would bear exceptional children: Athena, the equal of her father in might and good counsel, and a son who would become king of the gods and men

3 When Athena was born, either Hephaestus or Prometheus or Hermes split Zeus’ head with an axe, and Athena (Minerva) sprung from Zeus’ head, fully-grown and in full armor, whooping a war cry The myth’s aetiology seems to be the physical manifestations of a thunderstorm Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne

4 The birth of Athena (Minerva) was immortalized by the Greek sculptor Pheidias in the east pediment of the goddess’ great temple, the Parthenon (Parthenos, meaning virgin, was a standard epithet of Athena)

5 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne The theme of the west pediment of the Parthenon was the victory of Athena over Poseidon for control of Athens and Attica: she gave the city the gift of the olive tree The city of Athens celebrated the day of Athena’s birth every year with a festival: the Panathenaea, in honor of their patron deity

6 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens.

7 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne A reconstruction model showing the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens.

8 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne A cross-section of the front of the Parthenon illustrating the various decorative elements in the architecture of the building. NOTE the “pediment” where the sculpture would have appeared.

9 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Characteristics of the goddess Athena: Athena (Minerva) is often represented in art with her attributes as a war goddess: helmet, spear, and shield (the aegis, on which the head of the gorgon Medusa is depicted)

10 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Minerva’s owl in a Greek tile Chryselephantine statue of Athena Athena stands holding a Nike (Victory) on her right hand that extends forward from the elbow, as if offering Nike to the Athenian citizens. With her left hand she supports her shield which shelters a snake as it rests on the ground, and her lance that rests on her left shoulder.She is dressed with an Attica peplos, and on her head she wears a richly decorated helmet with a sphinx at the apex and two Pegasi on each side. Her breastplate is adorned with snakes and the head of Medusa at the center.

11 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena’s title as “Tritogeneia” is obscure and explanations are conjectural; it seems to refer to her originally being a goddess of water or the sea Soon after her birth, Athena (Minerva) was raised by Triton, who had a daughter, Pallas Athena and Pallas used to practice the arts of war together One time they quarreled, and as Pallas was about to strike Athena, Zeus intervened; Pallas was startled, and Athena took advantage of the surprise and wounded and killed Pallas; Athena, in honor of her friend, took the name Pallas for herself

12 Minerva and Arachne The story of Minerva and Arachne bears testimony to the importance of Athena as patroness of women’s household arts, especially of spinning and weaving Ovid gives his account in Metamorphoses NOTE that Minerva disguises herself as an old woman: one of the anthropomorphic gods’ abilities to alter their appearance It is an aetiological myth: giving an explanation of the origin of the spider’s skill in weaving its web Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne

13 Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Athena is a goddess of many specific arts, crafts and skills (military, political, and domestic), as well as the deification of wisdom and good counsel; She is skilled in the taming and training of horses and inventor of the flute; Athena threw it away soon after she began to play it because it distorted her beautiful features; Marsyas, the satyr, picked up the instrument

14 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Satyrs Satyrs were attendants of the god Dionysus/Bacchus (Greek/Roman) Mainly human in form with bestial aspects: horse’s tail, legs of a goat Lustful, fond of revelry Silenus was a wise old satyr and the tutor of Dionysus In Roman mythology satyrs= fauni (pl.; faunus, s.) Depiction of the flaying of Marsyas, who lost his flute playing contest with Apollo playing the lyre with the Muses as judges: another instance of hybris punished by the gods

15 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Medusa Medusa was one of three sisters (Stheno and Euryale-both immortal) known as the Gorgons Medusa had snakes for hair and if you looked her in the eyes, she would turn you to stone

16 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Medusa Medusa was slain by the mythological hero Perseus When Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, the winged horse Pegasus sprung from her neck

17 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Medusa Perseus supposedly gave Medusa’s severed head to the goddess Minerva (Athena), who put it in the center of her shield, the aegis

18 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Athena (Minerva) and Related Myths: Arachne in Lydia Arachne, puella perita in lana, in Lydia habitat

19 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne The Lydians were the first people to coin money Lydian rulers include: Gyges, who is said to have possessed a ring that would make the wearer invisible; Link to that legend: of_Lydia of_Lydia The legend of Gyges is also retold by the Greek Philosopher Plato in his dialogue The Republic: dialogues.org/tetra_4/republic/gyg es.htm dialogues.org/tetra_4/republic/gyg es.htm Plato founded a school called the “Academy” in 5 th century B.C. Athens Plato (ca B.C.)

20 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne Other rulers of Lydia included King Croesus, whose wealth was famous throughout the ancient world; even today you might say “as rich as Croesus” Croesus used his wealth to construct and decorate the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which became one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:”

21 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne In Phrygia, a region near Lydia, lived the legendary King Midas, who was so greedy that he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold,but his wish was flawed (he didn’t think about touching food); another example of unmitigated hybris, also punished by the gods

22 Latin via Ovid Chapter 3 Minerva et Arachne King Midas Temple of Artemis Link to article on Ancient Anatolia (Lydia) from Encyclopedia Britannica On-line:


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