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Two Ancient Greek Gods and the Battle of Athens

Updated on September 29, 2016
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Athens - A city of legend

The Greek city of Athens has a unique place in human history. As the people who pioneered the arts of history, theatre and philosophy, who attempted the first version of democracy, and who achieved a degree of perfection in architecture, sculpture and pottery, the Athenians have justifiably acquired an almost legendary status.

But long before this ancient city (Greek: Αθήνα; or Athina in latin characters) was even making a name for itself with such accomplishments, she witnessed a battle which was waged between two of the most powerful ancient Greek gods of Olympus, fighting to win the favor of its very citizens and its king, Kekrops.

Have you been to Athens, Greece?

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The two Greek gods were Athena - Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom, and Poseidon - Greek god of the sea and known as the "Earth-Shaker" was also the god of earthquakes in ancient Greece.

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Mighty Poseidon rose out of the sea with his powerful trident, struck the earth with it and a saltwater spring gushed out. The spring brought fresh water from the sea to the city which the people could enjoy. Of course like Poseidon's sea, this water was salty and therefore useless to the people. Wise Athena then approached and struck the earth with her spear which created a hole. She knelt down and planted some seeds of an olive tree. As it grew to maturity and fruitfulness in front of their eyes, she explained to the king of the city and its people how the tree could be used for wood, shelter, for food and oil.

King Kekrops and the people of the city were so impressed that they pledged their loyalty to the Goddess Athena.

The two were very fond of this city and each wanted to claim it as their own. Poseidon was also the brother of Zeus and he was not content with his dominion over the ocean, jealous of Zeus and the authority he enjoyed over the land.

And so almighty Zeus, king of all the Greek gods decided that they should have a competition to decide the outcome of this battle. The competition was that each of the two powerful gods was to offer the best gift they could to the city and the people would decide who would become their patron god.

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Click on image to enlarge

But that was not the end of the matter. Angry and humiliated, Poseidon challenged Athena to one on one combat, but Zeus intervened to keep the peace, appointing the other 10 gods of Olympus as arbiters. All the gods of Olympus supported Poseidon, while the goddesses each voted for Athena. As their president, Zeus was required to remain neutral. This left the goddesses with a majority of one; and so the city was awarded to Athena and the city was named after her and continues to use that name until this very day.

From then on it is said that the goddess Athena loves to sit in her temple on the plateau above and watch her city, Athens...

Did you know the city of Athens was named after the ancient Greek Goddess Athena?

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