Athene: Image and EnergyPaperback
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- Publisher: ARKANA
- Format: Paperback | 320 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 15mm | 249g
- Publication date: 1 September 1998
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0140194959
- ISBN 13: 9780140194951
- Edition: New edition
- Edition statement: New edition
- Illustrations note: notes, bibliography, index
Images of the Greek goddess Athene tell us something about "the feminine", and so have relevance to our current debates on gender and the nature of women and men. This book traces how the original power of these images (themselves created by male-dominated Greek society, so perhaps already altered from an original archetype) have been watered down and made respectable over the centuries. It also demonstrates particularly how this mattered in the 19th century, when women were beginning to storm male citadels and when a certain version of Athene - as protectress of civic virtues - was widespread. By tracing the relationship of Freud and Jung to the goddess - both interested, yet neither using her image to expand ideas of feminine strengths - it will show how our views of the feminine today are still constrained by those of the founding fathers of depth psychology. Finally, it will look at how Athene, most complex of the Olympian deities, might appear to us today.
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In lesser Joseph Campbell style, the brainchild deity is viewed as archetype, traced over the millennia as the union of masculine/feminine, the Jungian anima/animus. In the second tribute to Athena this year (after Lee Hall's, see p. 352), Shearer, a London-Oxford Jungian analyst, finds nearly inexhaustible inspiration in the goddess of wisdom and warfare. Athene opens strongly with a summary of Athena/Pallas/Minerva's classical heritage, particularly her significance in Athens' Panathenaean ceremony and her more distant pagan manifestation as Sulis Minerva in Bath. Shearer is less diligent in arguing her thesis of the masculine-feminine deity, however, as she expands it to draw archetypal parallels with other deities: the Celtic Morrigan, the Sumerian Inanna, the Egyptian Neith, the Indian Kali, and less recognizable prehistoric goddesses. The author's arguments become progressively looser and less compelling as she canvasses the Athene-streak in Christian theology (Eve, Mary, and Sophia, i.e., Wisdom incarnate), Elizabethan politics and alchemy, and the Victorian ideals of femininity. Shearer unearths some interesting historical tidbits for symbolic touchstones: Florence Nightingale kept a pet owl named Athena, and Freud had a favorite statue of the goddess on his desk (which he described as "perfect, only that she has lost her spear"). Discussing the modern significance of the goddess, Shearer hopes for a return to a golden-age matriarchal society of peacefulness - with Athena embodied by the"Greenham Women" protesting American cruise missiles rather than by the Boadicea-like Margaret Thatcher. Throughout, Shearer's prose suffers most from an affected matiness, reflected in the ostentatiously slangy translations of Homer, Hesiod, Ovid, et al., which are currently in vogue in England. Rather than sounding up-to-date, the forced conversational tone makes the reader feel trapped in a nervy Oxbridge tutorial. (Kirkus Reviews)
Table of contents
Under the Aegis; the maternal measure; the feminine heritage; remembering Medusa; the mind of Minerva; fallen angels and daughters of men; the seat of wisdom; the armour of allegory; virgins, witches and uncommon gold; public cult and private devotion; the lamp and darkness; logos and psyche; Athene unarmed.