Images of the Greek goddess Athene tell us something about "the feminine", and so have relevance to our current debates on gender and the nature of women and men. This book traces how the original power of these images (themselves created by male-dominated Greek society, so perhaps already altered from an original archetype) have been watered down and made respectable over the centuries. It also demonstrates particularly how this mattered in the 19th century, when women were beginning to storm male citadels and when a certain version of Athene - as protectress of civic virtues - was widespread. By tracing the relationship of Freud and Jung to the goddess - both interested, yet neither using her image to expand ideas of feminine strengths - it will show how our views of the feminine today are still constrained by those of the founding fathers of depth psychology. Finally, it will look at how Athene, most complex of the Olympian deities, might appear to us today.
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Unlike Lee Hall's recent Athena: A Biography (LJ 4/1/97), which was a lay reader's approach to mythology, Shearer, a Jungian analyst, informs her exploration of Athena's shape-shifting over the course of centuries with a grounded knowledge of imagery and symbols from ancient cultures. Atop the Acropolis in Athens stands the most famous representation of the goddess: with spear and helmet, she bears the goatskin aegis and the Gorgon's head. Her great gift, when she choose to bestow it, is "foresight, discrimination, and harnessed power that understands precisely the fitness of every action." Shearer painstakingly illustrates the goddess's power to effect transformation. From Greek myth, Shearer pursues Athena as Minerva in the Aeneid and the attributes she shares with the Virgin Mary and the allegory of Wisdom; later, Athena assumes her opposite as the Black Virgin and Lady Alchemia. Shearer even finds Athena's spirit manifested in Florence Nightingale. An elegant study for informed readers.?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In Aeschylus, Athene appears as "all for the father," voting to find Orestes not guilty of murdering his mother on the grounds that women are unrelated to their offspring, serving only as containers for masculine seed. This hardly seems to qualify her as a feminist heroine, yet behind the Hellenic virago was a complex, powerful goddess whose image has inspired artists and thinkers for more than 2,500 years. Shearer introduces the many ways Athene's image has been employed: as mother-goddess, as the wrath of Medusa, as the intellectual Minerva, as intact virgin, as symbol of wisdom. Illuminated by feminist recognition of the multivalent quality of any great myth, Shearer knowledgeably takes us through the great goddess' varying reconstructions. Full of fascinating material--Florence Nightingale kept a pet owl to further her identification with Athene, some Black Madonnas take the stance of the Athenian maid, etc.--this is a fine resource on a complex and powerful mythic figure. Patricia Monaghan
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Book Description Penguin Group, London, 1998. Soft Cover. Book Condition: New. First Pbk.Ed.. 310p. illus biblliography index. Bookseller Inventory # 21189
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