Contrast the relationships Aphrodite/Venus has with males, human or divine, with those that Athene has. Do you think Athene's approach was more "successful"?

Essay by OdileUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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The very nature of the birth of Athene and Aphrodite serves as a blueprint for their relationships with males. Athene is a parthenogenetic creation, emerging full-grown and fully-armoured from her father Zeus's head. She is of the mind, action that follows careful reflection of cause and effect. Aphrodite was born out of the semen that surrounded her father's severed genitals after Kronos had thrown them in the sea. She, in splendid nakedness, is "the ripe self-sufficiency of feminine sexuality" (Downing 199). She is of the instinctive body, living in the moment. Her urges are instant, her gratification immediate.

Homer's The Odyssey contains the closest relationship between the goddess Athene and her favourite mortal, Odysseus, whom she guides and protects throughout his journey. When all the gods assemble at Olympus, she openly declares her feelings for Odysseus: "It is for Odysseus that my heart is wrung" (Homer 4, I.47/48). She openly challenges her father, Zeus: "Why are you at odds with Odysseus, Zeus?" (Homer 5, I.62/63).

It is on her pleas that the nymph Calypso has to set free the captive Odysseus. Once her father sides with her - "But come now, let all of us here together contrive a plan to bring him home" (Homer 5, I.76/77) - she quickly takes action. By taking on the disguise of Mentes, an old friend of Odysseus, she helps Odysseus's son, Telemachus, grow into courage, decisive manhood, to speak up against the suitors that threaten his mother, Penelope, and their household. She advises him to visit his father's old friend Nestor and Menelaus to seek news of Odysseus. She even arranges a ship and crew for him. "Disguising herself as Telemachus, she went all through the town, picking out her twenty men and passed them each the word to forgather by the good...