Athena Alea

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This was a prominent figure throughout the Ancient Greek times, and her statue was along the road that took many travelers from Sparta to Tegea[1]. She was there to show the travelers that they were on the right path and that she was there to protect them. Since Athena was the Goddess of War, the representation of the two matters, and the comparison of the two women eventually would be combined into one Goddess. The Goddess of War is a divine feminine that would help promote the people who would go into battle, and the men would pray to her in order to find themselves with luck and courage. The sculpture that was laid along the road was of great importance to the people that used that traveled that way. They would see her and remember her presence and that would continue to promote their well-being and confidence. The sculptures were not only something good and pretty to look at, they were also a place of worship for the people of Greece. Since they were a culture of polytheism. They wanted to be able to show their love for the women in their lives and show praise, they would do that by showing it through leaving behind flowers, money, etc. Athena Alea is just one part of the hierarchical structure that came with the Greek mythology and the architecture during this time. With the influence of Polytheism, Scopas, Sparta, and the art of War there was a culture built around her and her temple.

Polytheism

The idea that there are many Gods and Goddesses, is a rough translation or definition of the word Polytheism. In terms of the Greek mythology, there were many roles of the Greek Goddesses, and when they would be combined with real people or even each other, there would be a shift in the way art was made or even the way the civilizations were viewed. With there being the worship of multiple Gods and Goddesses, there were plenty of different worship centers that were around during this time, and therefore, many did gather around these centers and it allowed for a more complex understanding of the world around them. Instead of just focusing on the one main God, there was a hierarchal structure that occurred there as well. While there were the main Gods and Goddesses, the power structure would trickle down into the smaller Gods and Goddesses, with less power and then eventually you would reach the Demigod and Goddesses.

Temple of Athena Alea

Temple of Athena Alea can be traced back to before 300 BC. It was originally built as a place of worship for the town of Tegea, but once it was burned down in the year 394 BC, it was transformed. This was because the people of the town were wanting something that could be compared to the sculpture that was on the road from Sparta to Tegea, and so they brought the man who made the sculpture in, Scopas. Once Scopas was there, the town was transformed into the temple that is now known as Athena Alea, because of the worship of Athena and her efforts as a Goddess in the terms of war and battle.

The present-day Temple is in ruins because the town was unable to keep up with making sure the structure was sound, but when it was rebuilt, it was built in the Doric order. This meant that the architecture was very similar to those that we still see today in the city of Athens.

Since this was built in order to worship Athena and the Goddess’s that surrounded her, there was a Priest that was there as well. This was done by a young boy and then once he reached the age of puberty, then he would be removed from the highest order. There was a cult like atmosphere that was established within this temple, and with the higher order being seen over by a young boy, there have been speculations about the behind the scene aspects.

With this being the main place within the city that there would be worship, there was a lot of gathering that would be happening there too. The sense of community, would have been strong and the young boys that were there to be the “priest” like figure would have also been a pretty prominent figure in the community.

SCULPTURE

The sculpture of Athena Alea was made by the artist Scopas[2], and this is important because he was a very major part of the architecture during this time. Scopas was the driving force behind the major temples that were being built and also had a big influence on how the people viewed the Gods and Goddesses during this time. Sculpture was such an important part of the culture that these artists could sometimes be seen just as famous as the Gods and Goddesses themselves[3]. Architecture during this time was not only a main part in the way that people viewed the cities, but also the way that they viewed the Gods and Goddesses. This statue in particular was the main reason as to why people knew they were going in the right direction, and since there was no other markers along this road Alea, was very popular and people knew who she was simply because of the path to Tegea. Sparta was a town that was known for the ideas of war and fighting to the death. The people of that town were raised to be warriors, and if you were born from a poorer family, or simply did not look like you would amount to much then you would be left on the hill to die.[4]<gallery>

Culture of Sparta

Sparta was such an influence on the surrounding cities and the Greek culture. The warriors that were from Sparta were raised from a young age to understand and become warriors. The young boys were put into a youth warrior education in which they would learn to fight from a young age[5]. In this culture the women were extremely educated as well[6], meaning that they were also well respected in the community and the men were very conscious of their behavior when around the women. The culture that surrounded the Ancient Greek warfare, was very different as they went around to different cities. The difference in the way that Sparta conducted itself from the rest of the Greek cities, was that they were seen as very powerful men and women. This was something that was not common when looking into the relationship of men and women. Women were seen as powerful beings just like men, and they could be seen in a way that was equal, even though they would perform different tasks then the men, they were still seen as very important parts of the culture.

Athena Alea was a major part of the Spartan culture because she was on the road that would lead these warriors to the town Tegea, where they would need to get different materials and even different look outs when it came to war. The purpose of lining the roads and paths with sculptures, was so it would remind the people and the warriors, who were walking, what they were on their journey for.

Women in Greek Culture

Women in Greek culture is something that is many cases is forgotten about, but they were a huge part of the Greek mythology and the driving force behind a lot of the ideas and topics from Greek Philosophy and architecture. Without the women in the positions that they were in there would be no such thing as the Goddess that are thought of. The women were never looked down upon in the culture, but rather seen as equals. The Goddess of War is Athena herself. That in itself is something that can be seen as something that can combine the two topics of Alea and Athena.

When combing the two the ideas of the sculpture, the two women were combined to create the name Athena Alea, because Alea’s sculpture was on the path that warriors took to Tegea. The men that would march to battle from Sparta, saw her in a way that was of power and grace, therefore, making her a child of Athena, or Offspring This comparison of the two women also made way for the women in the communities to feel a sense of power among themselves and did not feel as though they were not seen as equal. This balance that was seen between the men and the women was not uncommon within the Greek Culture.

References

  1. "Greek mythology | Gods, Stories, & History". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  2. Editors, History com. "Greek Mythology". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  3. Editors, History com. "Greek Mythology". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  4. Andrews, Evan. "8 Reasons It Wasn't Easy Being Spartan". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  5. Kiger, Patrick J. "How Sparta Used Harsh Training to Produce 'Perfect' Warriors". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  6. Editors, History com. "Sparta". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-04-02.

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