Gods, goddesses, and myths have inspired artists throughout history. In ancient Greece, two primary expressions of mythical art were architecture and sculpture. And for Athenians, the most important deity was their patron goddess Athena. In fact, she was so important, that the Parthenon was built in her honor on the Acropolis. A large gold and ivory statue was installed, which unfortunately has been missing for centuries.
She was the goddess of the arts, wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law, justice, mathematics, strength, strategy, crafts, skill, … and justifiable warfare. A busy girl, our Athena!
Given this wide-ranging purview, it’s easy to understand her popularity with the Greeks.
There are many ancient drawings and statues of Athena, but in 1990, the city of Nashville, Tennessee added a modern replica which forms the backbone of one of the city’s premier sights, the Parthenon.
After extensive research to ensure the accuracy of the statue’s resemblance to the original work in the ancient Parthenon, Nashville native Alan Lequire created the 42 foot replica.
Like most mythical art, the statue of Athena symbolizes her strengths, attributes, and deeds.
The large spear, shield, and helmet establishes her credentials as a warrior, and the 6 foot statue of Nike in her right hand celebrates her victories.
The snake behind the shield represents the people of Athens, who are under her protection.
On her breastplate and shield, the head of Medusa is displayed. This severed head was given to Athena by Perseus for her aid in slaying the evil snake-haired gorgon.
In the frieze below her statue, the Pantheon of Gods is witnessing the birth of Pandora – the first mortal human.
And on what must be history’s fanciest sandals, scenes of Athena’s battle with the centaurs are depicted.
This fine reproduction of the interior of the Parthenon, complete with this amazingly detailed statue, is the only place on earth to experience what is was like to stand inside Athena’s temple in 480 B.C.
For many travelers, Nashville’s Parthenon may be a bit off the beaten path. But it’s an outstanding place to visit, and worth the effort. If you see just one famous celebrity in Nashville this year, make it the multi-talented Athena.