A History of Greek Religion, Edition: 2nd Edition by Martin Persson Nilsson

By Martin Persson Nilsson

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Here the old idea clearly persists; the goddess has her dwelling in the palace of the prince, Erechtheus is a mythical reflex of the king who in the Mycenaean age resided on the Acropolis of Athens: in historical times he was worshipped as a hero. Already in the Catalogue of Ships the conditions are reversed and Athena is made to receive Erechtheus into her temple. A temple has taken the place of the royal palace. This is the later conception. Herodotus tells how the • houseprotecting snake' (ol/(ovpo~ depts) which lived in Athena's temple left the Acropolis at the approach of the Persians.

In Argos she lay buried in the temple of the Cretan Dionysos. On Naxos she had died, and " the inhabitants celebrated in her honour a festival which was partly 'a feast of sorrow and gloom' and partly a festival of joy. A similar festival 1S mentioned for Loeris. In Cyprus she js said to have died in ch11dbed and been buried. At her festival a youth represented a woman in childbed. In Crete she is said to have hanged herself in despair. te goddess, Helena,l whose temple in Sparta rests upon Mycenaean remains.

This is not the only connexion of Athena with the Mmoan-Mycenaean relIgion. By her temple grew her sacred olive which, when burned down by the Persians, in one night put out a shoot a yard long. The tree-cult appears very prominently in the Minoan religion, although it is found all over the world and IS especially widespread in European and Teutonic folk-lore. WIth one exception, Homer has no gods in the form of animals: Athena, however, sometimes transforms herself, along with some other god, into a bird.

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