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Any Student
English, Period 3
Greek Mythology Project
Athena: The Merciful God
In Greek Mythology, many heroes were able to kill monsters because they were
guided by Athena. Famous people have been remembered in history for being violent and
smart, but the most remembered and respected people are the ones who were merciful.
Athena, among all of the gods, was one of the favorite by the Greeks because she would
help all people in Greece and be merciful to others who were having any struggles. Some
stories that reflect Athena being helpful and merciful include Athena and Perseus, Athena
and the weaving competition, and Athena and the gift of the olive tree.
Athena was always beside heroes when they were faced with a life and death
situation. One hero that she protected was Perseus. Perseus and his mother lived on the
island of Seriphus where King Polydectes fell in love with his mother, but he didn’t want
Perseus. He came up with a plan to talk to Perseus about how he wanted more than
anything to have the head of Medusa. Then at the announcement of the wedding of Perseus’
mother and Polydectes, Perseus declared he would bring back the head of Medusa because
he had no gift. Perseus had a god on his side, Athena (qtd. in “Athena and Perseus”).
Suddenly, the ball of fire burst, revealing the goddess Athena, dressed in her
splendid suit of armor. She greeted Perseus and then removed a shield of polished
bronze from her chest. He should use this shield when he approached the Gorgon,
for the simple reason that, though her image was lethal when viewed directly, her
reflection in the shield would be harmless (Nardo, 377).
When Perseus was in the lair of Medusa, she guided Perseus’ sword and sliced through the
Gorgon’s neck, as told by Nardo. Athena helped Perseus so he could prove to the King that
he was worthy. Perseus didn’t know what to do, but Athena helped him through his
struggle and helped him kill a monster. In the end, her mercy and help allowed Perseus to
go home as a hero.
When someone is said to be generous or merciful, they make up for what they did
that was wrong. “Arachne, a Lydian princess, was a fabulous weaver. She was so good that
people said she was better than Athena. Arachne challenged Athena to a weave-off. They
both made beautiful tapestries, and both were completely flawless, except Arachne’s made
fun of the gods. Athena was bitter and very angry and ripped Arachne’s work to shreds in a
cold, vengeful rage. Arachne totally didn’t mean to upset her heroine and hung herself, but
Athena remembered herself, and saved the girl by turning her into a spider and giving her
the ability to weave forever” (Alia Athena). Everyone makes mistakes, even the Greek Gods,
and Athena realized that she made a mistake by upsetting the princess. To correct her
mistake, Athena brought the girl back to life as a spider so the girl could live weaving, doing
what she loved. By Athena correcting her mistake, it proves that she is merciful. Even
though the problem was caused by another person, Athena still was merciful to the one
who was being foolish.
A strong person always is standing for himself, but a stronger person stands for
those he loves. Athena and Poseidon both favored a city. Zeus declared for the two to have
a competition. Each god would give a gift to the city and whichever gift the people liked the
best, then that god would proclaim the city theirs. Poseidon gave the gift of a salt water
spring. Athena went deeper into her thought and presented the gift of the olive tree. That
tree was more useful for the people because it gave them food, wood, wine, and oil. The city
was therefore proclaimed Athena’s (“Athena”). When a gift is given with deep thought, that
gift is the most special one, and Athena not only wanted to proclaim the city as hers, but
she wanted the people to love her. She thought of a gift could help the people through their
everyday lives. By giving the olive tree, it showed the people that Athena was a merciful
and sweet god. She was thinking of them and their needs and not about just any gift. Her
gift was a special gift.
Helping Peruses, giving mercy to Arachne, and presenting the gift of the olive tree
are some actions that make Athena remembered for being the merciful god, unlike the rest
of the gods who are remembered for their stupid choices and violence. Because Athena
helped those with problems and was merciful to all people, she is one of the favorite gods.
If Athena didn’t show the people of Greece that she was merciful and helpful, would she
still be one of the favorite gods remembered today?
Work Cited
Ailia Athena. “Athena: Goddess of Wisdom.” 06 Jan. 2008: n.p. Web. 11 Apr 2012.
“Athena.” 21 Feb 2005: n.p. Web. 18 Apr. 2012.
“Athena and Perseus.” n.d. n.p. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.
Nardo, Don. Greek and Roman Mythology. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2002. Print.