Heather Whiting
Rachel Kautz
Nyi Htoon

Chapter 1 --- "Theseus and Athenian Festivals" by Erica Simon

WHAT IS THE CHAPTER ABOUT? This chapter discusses the role of Theseus, the son of Poseidon, The Sea God, in ancient Greek festivals. These festivals have traits that can be ascribed to Theseus himself, and are defined as Mycenaean. The festivals took place in the Bronze Age, which was otherwise known as the heroic age of Greece, and concentrate on the myth of the Minotaur. This was illustrated in several ancient works of art, shown in the chapter. Throughout the chapter, the consistent role of Theseus was to confront and defeat the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a creature that had the body of a man and the head of a bull. Theseus is not from the city of Athens, but comes from Pelopennese. Even so, he represented what was typically Athenian, even democracy. He was considered a king among the Athenians for his heroic deeds and all the accomplishments that he provided for Athens.


WHAT DOES THIS TELL US ABOUT THE WORSHIP OF ATHENA? Athena was often Theseus’ divine companion. Traditionally, Athena was not considered one of Theseus’ tutelary gods, because his divine father was Poseidon, Athena’s opponent in the struggle for Attika. As his deeds for Athens grew, the more he was seen with Athena. The festival of Panathenaia was celebrated in honor of Athena, which was also celebrated during the Bronze Age. This festival would not have taken place without the unification of Attika by Theseus. Theseus was probably the festival’s first reorganizer.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE COURSE? This chapter, along with other chapters in this book, takes a goddess we have been studying, and makes references to the Odyssey. The myth of the Minotaur comes from book 11 of the Odyssey. Traits of festivals in Athens can be better understood with help from the Odyssey. We can also see how Athena fits into activities like festivals, which were an important part of Greek culture.