My petition to include Athena in the planetary pantheon

Recreated statue of Athena in her temple at the Parthenon, Athens

There aren’t enough planets with women’s names.

Therefore, I feel the need for a planet that represents the modern woman, and that planet would be called Athena, after the Greek goddess who sprang full-born from Zeus‘ brow, armed for battle, shouting her war-cry to the heavens such that even Ouranos was frightened. Her own father tried to prevent her birth. You gotta like this woman, especially on International Women’s Day, which is today, for those of you who didn’t know there was such a thing.

As for Athena, this was a woman who could take care of herself, and I believe that makes her uniquely qualified to represent women today. Not that we all have to be ready to go to war, but Athena was renowned for preserving the sanctity and purity of women (read: virginity), a powerful political and personal possession.

Athena successfully resisted the lustful advances of at least one paramour, a novelty in Greek myth, where most women are portrayed as being forced to give in to Apollo, Zeus, or whoever pursues them long enough. Athena was one tough cookie, and I think that makes her our strongest candidate to represent the independent spirit of women.

Athena’s view of you, her supplicant

Athena was also amongst the most pragmatic Greek goddesses. When Athens sought a protector-deity, the choice lay between her and Poseidon. Poseidon’s best offer was salty spring water; Athena gave the city the first domesticated olive tree, a much better choice, since olive trees provide wood, fruit, and oil. The Athenians made the right choice, and Athena became their patron goddess. Athena was also patron goddess, interestingly, of Athens’ chief Greek rival, Sparta. Both cities were dominated by the need to protect themselves against incursion, and Athena’s influence promised strength, cleverness, and wit.

She would have made an excellent mirror for Queen Elizabeth I, for example, since she represented almost every virtue that queen relied on to survive in a volatile political environment: cleverness, wisdom, tact, and an unusual but powerful combination of gentleness and ferocity. Athena was a counselor (she provided wisdom and guidance most famously to Odysseus, in “The Odyssey”, and helped Perseus and Herakles during their travails); a protector, and a force that inspired both women and men during one of the most difficult political moments in history, for Athens caught up in the years of tyranny, oligarchy, and later, the monarchy of Alexander, was not the easiest time to be alive.

Athena, helping Herakles

If you know absolutely nothing about International Women’s Day, here is a link to the C.A.R.E. website, which will give you some background information about the purpose of celebrating women around the world.

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