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How the city of Athens got it's name
(update: February 26th 2002)

Dr. Hugo H. van der Molen - Wederikweg 114 - 9753 AE Haren, The Netherlands
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How the city of Athens got it's name

Once upon a time Zeus, the supreme god of the mount Olympus, suffered from a severe head ache, not even Apollo could cure. Therefore he ordered his son Hephaistos to split open his scull with an axe. Then Pallas Athena jumped out of her father's head, wearing a golden helmet on her head and a spear in her hand.
Shortly after her birth, a man called Crecrops came to the Greek region, later called Attica, and built a city, so beautiful, that the gods on mount Olympus were amazed. All of them wanted to choose a name for it. But, as only one name was needed, the gods gathered to figure out a plan. In that gathering all gods, except Poseidon (of the seas) and Athena refrained from their desires to give the city a name. Then Zeus ordered Athena and Poseidon to make something that would be of great use to the people. The one who could come up with the most useful gift would gain the right to give the city a name and to watch over it.
Poseidon produced a horse and explained the many ways in which it could serve people. Then Pallas Athena asked the gods to take a serious look at her gift: the olive tree. At first, she was laughed at, but then she explained that the fruits, the wood and the leaves could all be used very well. Besides, the olive tree was a symbol of piece, whereas the horse was the symbol of war, doing more harm than good to mankind. Therefore, the gods decided that Pallas Athena had won the right to give the city her name, which she called Athens (Eng), Athene (Gr./ NL). After this, the citizens of Athens worshipped her as their own goddess. They dedicated the Parthenon on the Acropolis to her, for example. Pallas Athena was known to be ready to fight, but she also was an eminent weaver. Her beloved bird, the owl, was often sitting next to her, the symbol of her wisdom.
Source: MacGregor, 1980, p. 10-11.

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