We understand human creation between a man and a woman. We know the story, birds and the bees and all. We even “understand” creation by God. A simple flick of the wrist, finger point, or magical “poof” and people, places and things just appear. At least that was my understanding when I learned about Earth’s creation as a kid. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought for a moment that the magical story of God’s Creation of the Earth could be anything but quick, easy and most of all…painless.
It wasn’t until I chose to research the birth of Athena that I realized I had blinders on all this time. I never thought outside the box about how creation could be anything different. It never dawned on me to bring the concept down to the level of reality. The book for my english class briefly touches upon the birth of Athena and holds true to the simple/quick/painless act that he just simply created her out of his own mind. The story made it seem as if he intended all along to create this feminine warrior. To me, that meant that he dreamed her up and again, “poof” she had appeared. Easy breezy.
The more I researched, however, the more I came to realize how far from my first perception I actually was. Through the research, it was revealed that Athena’s creation was more on the level of reality than I had imagined. The pain is excruciatingly real and this is the first time I’ve seen a God’s creation to be similar to what a woman would go through while giving birth (in a sense). Zeus went through real pain when Athena was created and it seems it happened by accident and not on purpose as I was earlier lead to believe.
Vis consili expers Mole ruit sua. (“Strength without wisdom falls by its own weight”)
The story I finally came upon goes like this: Zeus was originally married to Metis, Goddess of Wisdom, his first wife, who bore a child (it is not clear if it’s Zeus’s but we can only guess). Zeus receives advice from Earth and Heaven that he must swallow Metis and child to avoid the child taking over his throne. After Metis is swallowed, Zeus begins experiencing horrible headaches. Once inside his belly, Metis gives birth to Athena and provides her with the armor. Hephaestus (also Zeus’s child by wife Hera) was near Zeus during his time of agony and aided in the birth of Athena by striking Zeus in the head with an axe which allowed Athena to spring forth, full-grown and fully armed. Does this suggest that Athena’s half brother was Zeus’s midwife?
I found a funny video that adds a nice flavor to my blog this week titled The Birth of Athena for Dummies. At the end, I think John, the film editor, meant to say that Athena’s owl was sacred and not scared. Either way, enjoy.