Mythological Athens

Mythological events can be seen in different ways: the first is as an interesting story that teaches us something, and the second is a mix of historic events and folk stories, in the middle of them truth could be discovered. This is how the best approach to mythology could work for us more efficiently.

Athens is so old that its stories are directly related to the myth of Aegean Sea, Minoan Crete and Minotaur, Argonaut campaign (1225) with Athenian heroes Theseus and Faliros, grandchild of Erehtheas, but also with Trojan War (1218) with king Menestheas. Greek city-states were already established and their relations were as tense as during Clasical Greece period. Menestheas was Theseus rival, so as longf as the Spartans had influence of establishing kings in Athens, Menestheas was put as a king with the absence of Theseus. During Trojan War he was one of the warriors in the Trojan horse. After Troy was sacked, he sailed to Mimas, then to Melos island where he became a king as well.
After his return to Athens, he is told to have supported Mycenean hero Orestes, son of Agamemnon in Areopagus trial. He returned to Asia where he established the city Elea (<Elia is the Olive tree in Greek, that means it was a trade station) near Pergamum, an Athenian or his trade station- port, of which coins are saved, writing «ΜΕΝΕΣΘΕΥΣ ΚΤΙΣΤΗΣ». The city was later destroyed during Roman period by an earthquake.

 

Athena’s Gift to the city 

Greek mythology starts before Argonauts and the Trojan war. There is a myth that marks the time of Athens passing from agricultural to a trade economy, starting from The holy rock of Acropolis, was known also as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenian king, with whom the two Gods had a business meeting, regarding the city’s future.
Poseidon (God of water, wells and irrigation) and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom (Technology of that time), met to decide who will give his brand-name in the city. Both presented themselves in front of king Cecrops and Cecrops asked from them to offer a gift truly valuable for Athens and its citizens.
Poseidon came first: he struck the earth powerfully and created a well with his trident, but unfortunately for him its water turned out to be salty and not very useful for the population.
Next, it was the turn of Athena. Athena just planted an olive branch in the ground, but by this way she created an olive tree, showing the Athenians the way to the future- and she was right- few centuries ago, Athenians were exporting olive oil ceramics all over the world- until the first centuries after Christ.
So Cecrops, as a wise king, was impressed by Athena’s gift. So he chose Athena to lay claim of the city of Athens and the city was named after her. God Poseidon, however, was not pleased with the decision of Cecrops and cursed the city of Athens to never have enough water from then on. After that, it is said that a major problem of water shortage started in Athens, which continued until recently.

After Cecrops and Theseus, a famous Athenian king was Codrus, living around 11th century. An example of Patriotism and self sacrifice, against the spread of the Iron Civilization of Dorians. His son Medon is said to become the first Archon of Athens, passing the king-era to something new. It was the time of Athens first constitutional transform from a Mycenean kingdom to something modern. Anyway until Athens establish its democracy, it was like any other Greek city state, with internal opposing interests, struggles for power, tyrants and instability.

How did democracy come out? And honestly, how was it to feel like an Athenian? 

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