Naming Athens

Athena's sacred Olive tree next to the Erectheon on the Acropolis in Athens

When Athens was first being built, it wasn't called Athens. It wasn't called anything. So, the good citizens decided it was time to name the place they called home. There was only one problem: they needed a deity to dedicate the city to. After careful consideration (and much squabbling) they had their choices narrowed down to Poseidon and Athena. The winner would be the one who could give the people he best gift. Poseidon offered them an eternal spring that would always provide them with water. This sounded great at first, but after a while, the people realized that the spring gave them sea water (Poseidon was the god of the sea). Since Greece had hundreds of miles of coastline, this wasn't so great: they could already get sea water whenever they wanted it, and they couldn't drink it, as it was too salty. Needless to say they rejected this gift, and asked Athena what she had to offer. She struck the ground with her spear and up sprung an olive tree. The people loved this because it gave them wood, food, oil, and lots of other realy cool things. To thank the goddess, the people named their city Athens, and built shrines and temples in the goddess' honour. Poseidon never forgave Athena for taking the city away from him, and to this day the two don't get along really well.


The picture is one that Caroline took during her trip to Greece in May/June of 2003. It is of Athena's sacred Olive tree planted in the spot where the original one grew in antiquity. The building next to the tree is the Erectheon, which is located on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece.
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