According to one myth, the first Athenian citizen was born from the earth after the sperm of a rejected lover, the god Hephaistos, dripped off the virgin goddess Athena's leg and onto fertile soil. Henceforth Athenian citizens could claim to be truly indigenous to their city and to have divine origins that bypassed maternity. In these essays, the renowned French Hellenist Nicole Loraux examines the implication of this and other Greek origin myths as she explores how Athenians in the fifth century forged and maintained a collective identity.
"[This] book is provocative, original, subtle, and scholarly, and offers important general lessons about the functioning of Athenian myth, religion, literature, and culture... This translation ... will certainly help more people to see ... why Loraux has achieved 'classic status' in [her field]."--Simon Goldhill, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "A manifesto for a historian's reading of myths in their civic contexts."--L'Histoire "This is a great book of the historian's imagination, of the capacity to imagine how the players of a long-gone civilization thought and reacted... [A] brilliant book."--Quinzaine Litt?raire "... continues to occupy a central and provocative place in current discussion... The text is also admirably lucid and pleasant to read... The Children of Athena may be read with profit by anyone. To those who have not encountered it, I recommend it highly."--Charles W. Hedrick, Jr., Journal of the History of Sexuality