In Naming a New Planet – the Divine Connection (2) I wrote:
"Both Artemis and Athena were known as frigid ladies and virgins - well, 'more or less' for one, but let's leave the 'more or less' issue aside for a while."
One of my mates asked me to explain what I had meant by the ‘more or less’ part about the virginity of one of the frigid ladies.
In that statement I have been referring to Athena. That qualification of 'more or less' came from an interesting episode in Greek mythology. Athena was of course Zeus’ daughter by Metis, one of the Chief Olympian’s many consorts.
One day Athena went to see her half brother, Hephaestus (or in Roman lore, Vulcan) the God of Fire, for some weapons. Hephaestus was the divine sword smith. He was born lame but was nevertheless a marvellous inventor and metalwork genius, and there was nothing he couldn’t forge. For a semi-cripple he was married to, would you believe, Aphrodite, that striking beautiful Goddess of Love. But Aphrodite was a naughty goddess, also sneaking off behind Hephaestus’ back for a little 69 with Ares (or Mars).
Anyway, Hephaestus was a bit frusco when Aphrodite left him. When he saw Athena he suddenly developed the hots for her, and gave chase to de-flower the goddess. Though lame he caught (hey he was a god after all) and embraced her but Athena didn’t give in.
Poor Hephaestus was so excited by this stage that he wetted her legs. In modern parlance he suffered premature ejaculation. Jeez, a God was only human ;-)
Anyway, with that discharge, he deflated his lustful passion for Athena. When Athena was born, if you remember from the previous post, she shouted a war cry that resounded in heaven and on earth. Well, when she felt Hephaestus' gooey stuff on her legs, she was again screaming her war cry that shook both heavens and earth, but this time with a mighty “YUUUUUCK.”
She wiped off the bleeaaah stuff ;-) and threw that onto the ground. The earth was thus fertilised by Hephaestus’ seeds, giving birth to a man, Erichtonius (pronounced 'Eri-chthon-ius' - 'chthon' means 'earth'). Athena acknowledged him as her son and brought him up secretly. Erichtonius grew up to become one of Athens early kings.
What do you think? Was this the virgin birth that we talk about in another religion? Obviously here, the father was a blacksmith whereas in the other religion, he was a carpenter.
Or, do you consider that Athena was no longer a virgin?