|Blogger: Amber Schamel
Athena, considered the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and war, was the principle deity of the Greek Capital of Athens. She is best known for the story of her...ahem...unusual birth. As the story goes, her father Zeus swallowed her mother after she became pregnant for fear of her bearing a son that would threaten his reign. Afterward, he developed such a horrible headache that he begged a friend to split his skull with an ax to relieve the pressure. When his friend obliged, Athena sprang full-grown, wearing weapons and armor, from the slit in his head. Of course, such tales are of little interest to us, except for the fact that they had a tremendous influence upon the Greeks as well as Romans, who in turn influenced the entire world. Especially America. Here’s why.
According to the myth, Athena ended up being Zeus’s favorite child and was given great power. She was widely worshiped but is most commonly remembered for the city of Athens which emerged about the time that Greece went from monarchy to democracy. The city of Athens seemed to be an intricate piece in the development of democracy in Greece, the form of which greatly influenced the founding fathers when they set up the United States as a republic. Had it not been for this goddess which, “protected the city and inspired restraint and practical insight,” Greece may never have become the world influence that it has.
The temple built to her is also a part of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and was a religious hub for the Greeks.
|Depiction of Athena's Birth
So great was the influence of this goddess, especially in Ephesus, that the businessmen of the city became enraged when Christians began missionary work in the area. The Scriptures (in Acts chapter 19) record the incident where the silversmiths enrage the entire city against Paul for preaching against the goddess. They proclaim:
“Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
Moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”
Whom all Asia and the world worships. So then, the influence of this mythical woman must have been great at the time. Some scholars also argue that Artemis was a “savior goddess” which would have made the preaching of Christ as Savior even more offensive to the Ephesians. Still, many in Ephesus were converted to the truth and one of the epistles recorded in the Holy Scriptures was addressed to them.
|Ephesus Coin with Artemis' Image
So we see that these two sisters, while they were mythical, still affected the culture of ancient times and even beyond. They generated commerce, inspired temples that became icons, dictated the lives of those who worshiped them, influenced their thinking, and had cities dedicated to them that became major in the Christian movement.
If a “legend” or imaginary character can do that, what more could you and I?
Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/ and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!