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Mona Koza

The Goddess Athena - Asexuality and the Gods

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Mona Koza

I posted this at the livejournal community, and it's become a pretty interesting topic, so I thought I would post it here.

Here's what I wrote in the LJ comm.

The Goddess Athena

I've always been a pretty big mythology nerd, and Athena was always my favorite of the gods, from any culture. For some reason, I just always liked her attitude, if that makes any sense. I didn't know what asexuality was when I first got into mythology, but now I've decided that Athena - one of the most powerful gods in any mythological culture - was completely and totally asexual. She never married and she never took on any lovers. She never had any children. She was one of three virgin goddesses in the Greek pantheon, and I don't really believe that they had these three virgin goddesses because they believed that sex was a sin, because to their society, it most certainly wasn't. While many of the other greek gods - men and women alike - were promiscous, Athena was completely asexual, and not because she was a "pure" goddess of chasity or something. Athena really did not have any interest in sex at all. Many of the other gods wanted to marry her, but she would have none of it. There is one story in which the god Hephestis, (I can't spell his name, but it's close to that) was told by Ares that Athena wanted to make love to him, so when she asked him to make her some new weapons, he said that the only payment he would need was her love. Athena didn't catch the innuendo. As far as she was concerned, love didn't equal sex. For her, love was what most people feel for their brothers and their sisters, so she was quite suprised and disgusted when he tried to have sex with her, and left immediatly, of course.

I don't know exactly why I am writing this post, and I know that nobody else cares, I just think that it's interesting, especially in our society where sex is so valued above almost everything else, that a completely asexual woman could be viewed as one of the most powerful and respected dieties to ancient greek society. It's something that most people now don't understand, but back then, I guess it really wasn't a problem. Though, of course, they didn't have words like "asexual" to discribe her, nobody tried to hid the fact that Athena was a virgin and that she was completely not interested in sex. If you say something like that about anyone, people are bound to think that the person who is asexual is a crazed lunatic of some kind.

Asexuality has been around for a long time, and some of those asexuals were very well respected by their societies. Why is it so hard for so many people now to do the same?

In addition, Greek Mythology also has two other virgin goddesses, Artemis and Hestia. Hestia was the goddess of the hearth and the home, and Artemis was the goddess of the moon and the hunt. I don't know much about Hestia and only a bit about Artemis, so I'll leave the discussions of them to others who know more. There's been a lot of discussion in the thread on LJ about Artemis, but I don't really know how to summerize it all...

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Yes, I think Athena (and possibly Artemis) were virgins.

And didn't Athena get born by popping whole out of Zeus's head? If that isn't asexual reproduction, I don't know what is.

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Mona Koza

I think Athena definatlly screams Asexual, when you just look at her character and the way she acts and does things, and what she stands for.

And yeah. Athena actually had a mother, her name was Metis, and she was Zeus' first wife. The stories a myth, so it's going to sound really strange, but here it is. There was a prophecy that if Metis had a son, the son would overthrow Zeus as the king of the gods, so when she got pregnant with Athena, Zeus ate her. Later he got a really bad headache, so he had Haephestus split his head open to release the pressure, and Athena came out of his head, fully grown and dressed in battle armor.

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crazyjerseygirl

hey my avatar is Artimis (Diana) so woohoo!

bu yeah on a short note i always fell in love with the virgin goddesses of any religion, hell i was raised catholic and to this day the only person i ever pray to is the virgin mary...and even that rarely.

id love to hear more on this topic from people with bigger brains than I

TTFN

Renee'

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Mallard

Another Artemis fan here... And I remember admiring the vestal virgins of ancient Rome, when I was at school.

In a way, I've always admired witches (=the good, white magic ones), though I'm not into Wicca/witchcraft myself.

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Shockwave

Somebody pointed out to me the topic on LJ (it was Naissur9, who doesn't come here much anymore) and I read it there.

I find it interesting that such a sexual society had three virgin goddesses.

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Mona Koza
hey my avatar is Artimis (Diana) so woohoo!

bu yeah on a short note i always fell in love with the virgin goddesses of any religion, hell i was raised catholic and to this day the only person i ever pray to is the virgin mary...and even that rarely.

id love to hear more on this topic from people with bigger brains than I

TTFN

Renee'

I'm not catholic (or any sort of Christian, or any sort of religion, actually) but I think I have prayed to the Virgin Mary before. There is just something about her that is comforting.

I find it interesting how there are so many virgin goddesses in relgions, and how respected they usually are. Take for example:

1. The Virgin Mary - the mother of Jesus and one of the most respected women probably in the world.

From the greco-roman myths:

1. Hestia/Vesta - The goddess of the home. She was one of the most important goddesses to the daily lives of the romans and the greeks because she was the one who looked out for and protected their homes. In Rome, the Vestal Virgins (the servants of Hestia, who kept the fires of Rome burning) were some of the most respected people in the realm. They were chosen at a young age, and it was considered the greatest honor a girl could ever have to be chosen to serve Vesta.

2. Artemis/Diana - The Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon. The hunt especially was important to them, and if they didn't have her blessing, then the hunt would not turn out very well. She was a very powerful goddess as well, very strong willed.

3. Athena/Miverva - Athena was probably one of the most important gods to the greeks, if actually not THE most important after Zeus. Athena was the protector of Athens, the capital of Greece, and it was from her that the city took it's name. She was also the Goddess of more things then you can count - most notably, wisdom, stratigic and honorable warfare (not fighting for the sake of fighting, that was Ares' realm) and the crafts - and she seems to have been either directly or indirectly responsible for what seems like most of the great myths that were told. She was very well respected by the people who worshipped her, and very important to their society.

A few more things that I find interesting about Athena and her asexuality is that she really does seem sexless in the way that she acts. She is biologically female - and a very beautiful one, given how the other gods wanted to marry her - but she did not act really like a female or a male. Her brain and the way that she thought and acted seemed to have characteristics of both. Whereas the other virgin goddesses seemed more female (Hestia being the goddess of the hearth and the home, which usually seems to be related to women, and Artemis, though she was a stronger and more atheletic woman, being the goddess of the hunt, she also represented the night and the moon, the more feminine sides of nature, whereas her brother Apollo was the sun, which seems to be more associated with masculine energy,) Athena presided over things that were both masculine and feminine. She was the goddess of War, which was usually considered a man's job. On the other hand, she was the goddess of the crafts, many of which (such as weaving) are more associated with women.

Does anyone know of any other virgin/asexual gods or goddesses in other religions and cultures?

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