Athena, Goddess of War by Mary Shoup

Of Pallas Athene, guardian of the city, I begin to sing. Dread is she, and with Ares she loves deeds of war, the sack of cities and the shouting and the battle. It is she who saves the people as they go out to war and come back. (l. 5) Hail, goddess, and give us good fortune with happiness! Homeric Hymn XI to Athena

Bella and I had been talking about sophomore year in the seminary as I was finishing up my freshman courses and being considered for the role of Athena in Spring Mysteries Festival 2014.

She had told me about the daily invocations. “Many women want to invoke Athena for the red warrior section.”

I gave her a funny look and shook my head. “That’s not right.” I couldn’t tell her why that wasn’t right at the time, but I knew that She didn’t fit that profile, and Bella agreed with my assessment. She calls it a “modern misinterpretation of Her energy.”

As I’ve worked more with Athena and the red warrior energy, I’ve come to understand my intuitive “That’s not right.”

US Medal of Honor - 1862My family has a long military background. My father, much of my extended family and both of my grandfathers and beyond were part of the Armed Forces. The term “warrior” has evolved, become a title. It’s been applied from everyone from the soldier on the front line to the general in the war room, making strategic and tactical decisions, making sure not only the war is won (sometimes at the expense of the battle) but also that the soldiers are fed and armed.

Does this mean that the general can’t strap on a gun and fight on the front line shoulder-to-shoulder with the private?

No, but it’s not the best use of his or her skills – and even if he or she does, (s)he is not going to look at the battlefield in the same way as a 18-year-old private fresh out of bootcamp.

When we talk about the energy of the red warrior, we talk about the rash, bold hot-headed energy of the 18-year-old private. He’s not carefully considering every aspect of terrain, supplies or even the larger war; it’s all about that moment and the rush of battle.

Athena on ChalcedonyAthena has never had this energy. She sprung fully grown from Zeus’ head, prepared to do battle from the view of a tactician. Chess and Risk are Her game, not Call of Duty.

Her energy is much cooler, looking for a way to end the battle – or war – with minimal losses in men and supplies. She understands that when people leave sacrifice in Her temple, they pray for the war to end – not for help striking down their enemies.

Hers is the energy of the battle-hardened general, making cold calculations based on numbers.

Does that mean She is any less of a warrior?

By the modern definition, no, She is still as much of a warrior than Ares. However, that does not change the nature of Her energy.

First image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

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Athena, Goddess of War by Mary Shoup — 1 Comment

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