Athena

Bronze - 2010

This work represents the goddess Athena and it is dedicated to the artist’s daughter, Emanuela. May Athena accompany her on the path of life.

In times of peace, Athena, daughter of Zeus and his first wife Metis, was the goddess of wisdom, especially related to technical and agricultural knowledge, naval and textile inventions, as well as of law and justice, and the arts.

Therefore, the divinity embodied wisdom and reason.

In times of war, Athena was the goddess of the most noble aspects of war, where reason, deliberateness and cunning prevail over violence, cruelty and brutality (domains of Ares). Bravery in battle, courage and victory (Athena is often accompanied by the goddess of victory, Nike) favour actions resulting from reflection and strength of character.

The cult of Athena in the Aegean is probably of ancient origin. She is represented as a “goddess bird” (one of her sacred symbols is indeed the owl).

The name “Athena” may come from a composed word derived from “Tyrrhenian”. ATI means mother and ANA is the abbreviation for the goddess Turrita Hannahannah. The name seems to be written in a Mycenaean inscription in the “Room of the chariot tablets” found in Knossos (Crete), which was written in Linear B. The sculpture reproduces the tablet An 657 (Pylos, Messenia, end 13th century BC), which is kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

To know for sure if the name “Athena” already existed in the Eterocretan language, we will have to wait for the decipherment of Linear A used in Crete from the second millennium BC by the Minoan civilization. The sculpture reproduces the tablet HT 13 (Agia Triada, Crete, mid-15th century BC), which is kept in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion Crete.

The work of sculpture, in honor of the goddess Athena as goddess of wisdom, wants to make an excursus on the development of human knowledge through writing and its various means (clay tablets, papyrus and parchment) in the Aegean.

Writing on clay tablets was initially used for accounting purposes only (i.e. to remind debts, loans, commitments, etc.). It evolved with the invention of the alphabet, so that human knowledge could be passed on to new generations. In 2550 BC, Egypt finally abandoned clay tablets to switch to the use of papyrus with ink.

The first attempts of alphabet are believed to be dated around 1800 BC by the Semitic populations (Assyrians, Sumerians, Hebrews and Arabs) in Mesopotamia. The Phoenicians had the merit of having better assembled a new way of writing and speaking around 1650 BC. Both Semitic and Phoenician alphabet have no vocals, because considered to be voiced extensions of signs or letters.

The most ancient document arrived to us, referred to as alphabet n. 1, is from Ugarit (city in the Syrian coast), which consists of 20 signs or letters, evolved into 29 signs or letters (long alphabet). This alphabet is in the Hiram Stele (Ugarit, Syria). The city of Ugarit had its peak between the 16th and 12th BC.

The third tablet from the base of the sculpture represents the Ugarit tablet (National Museum of Damascus, 1650 BC). This is the first evidence of alphabet n. 1 or Ugaritic writing.

In Greece, the Phoenician language was adopted around 900 BC and the Greek phonetic alphabet appeared around 800 BC (the first draft of the Iliad dated back to 740 BC and the Odyssey to 730 BC by Homer, both written in Greek). Due to increased trade between the Aegean and the ancient Egypt, the use of papyrus with ink started spreading in Greece around 5th BC (replacing clay tablets).

The forth tablet from the base of the sculpture represents a papyrus with the edges rolled up.

The loss of political-economic power of the ancient Egypt and the high cost of the papyrus spread the use of parchment (already known from the 15th BC) in Greece since 4th BC, which will consolidate until its final adoption between the 2nd and 1st century B.C.

The parchment was created in Pergamum (in Missia, Trode, now city of Bergama province of Smyrna, Asia Minor) drying and smoothing skins of sheep, lamb, goat, and antelope.

The fifth tablet from the base of the sculpture represents a parchment on which the first and the last verse of a poem written by the author of the sculpture is engraved. The text was translated into Greek in recognition of those who first used writing for the dissemination of philosophical texts, from which our civilization descends. The poem is dedicated to his daughter Emanuela, symbolizing, in the passage from Linear A to the parchment, the hope for development and cultural growth in her studies and professional career.

In the sculpture, the head of the goddess is represented armed with the lance, the Greek helmet, the shield on which there is the Gorgon Medusa with snakes, the plow and the olive tree to remember that Athena is also the inventor of agricultural technologies.

On the opposite side of the shield, a portion of the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the goddess on the Acropolis of Athens, is sculpted.

The head of the goddess is inserted in the pages of a large book, with updates on the DVD writing, because, according to Homer and the majority of his scholars, in Athena the “nous” and the “dianoia” (the mind and the thought) are personified, naming it with even greater solemnity “theou nesis”, mind of God.

Athena is always present where a great work has be be accomplished.

This is the wish that the author leaves to his daughter, Emanuela.

 

link to poem