We’re kicking off our Greek vacation in Athens, which, like most places in Greece, has a great story behind it….
The Dispute of the Gods:
Cecrops, a strange creature, half-man half-snake, was the founder of a city which would develop to be very beautiful. Cecrops had named his city after him, Cecropia. However, the gods of Olympus saw this lovely piece of land they wanted to name it after them and become its patron. The most persistent rivals were Poseidon, the sea god, and Athena, the goddess of wisdom. To solve their dispute, Zeus decided that each of them would make a gift to the city and King Cecrops would decide which gift was the best and therefore which god would be the patron of the city.
One sunny day, Cecrops and the residents of the city went up to a high hill to watch the gods giving their gifts. Poseidon was the first to present his gift. He struck a rock with his trident and caused a spring of water to gush forth from the ground. This signified that he was assuring the citizens with water and therefore they wouldn’t face any time of drought. However, the people were not exactly enchanted with his gift because the water from the spring tasted salty, just like the waters of the sea over which Poseidon ruled.
Next there was the turn of goddess Athena. She planted a seed in the ground, which grew up to become a lovely olive tree. The citizens liked this gift better because it would give them food, oil and firewood. With one voice they loudly acclaimed Athena as their benefactress.
Athena, The Patroness of the City
This is how the goddess Athena got the everlasting honor of naming the city after her. Indeed, the residents of Athens built numerous glorious temples dedicated to her, organized festivals to honour their patroness and, when money was invented, they depicted goddess Athena and her sacred bird, the owl, symbol of wisdom, on both sides of their coins. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that this myth has a point of reality: many olive trees are found till today in the suburbs of Athens, but the city indeed faces problems of drought, especially in summer, and needs to get supplied with water from rivers in other Greek areas, such as Yliki lake, close to modern Thebes, and Mornos river, in the prefecture of Fokida.
Check back tomorrow for more from Greece!