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Reply To: Lions, and Tigers, Athena, oh my!” with Professor Mark C.E. Peterson”


Hi Charles,

Just to make this even more complicated, I have a fragment of something I’d read years ago stuck in my head about Athena and Medusa that speaks a bit to your point.  Some of our historically minded colleagues here might have to step in, but I’m under the impression that Medusa was the Cretan/Minoan version of Athena before the Mycenaean culture on the mainland took over the region — and there’s a possibility that they simply had their goddess of wisdom appropriate the head of their defeated enemy’s version.

Interesting to think about that.

What’s really worth exploring here is the relation between wisdom and love — and we’d have to figure out what “love” would mean in that context.  Since we’re working with pre-Xtian Greeks here I don’t think it’s agape in the Xtian sense.  But Eros, in the ancient and more profound sense of that term, might be the case.  There is an erotic (and I do not mean the merely sexual kind) component to wisdom that shows up throughout Plato’s work, for instance.

How these ideas were translated, and then transformed, to accommodate a Xtian worldview must appear somewhere.  Do you happen to know?