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An Offering to Athena: A Trip to the Nashville Parthenon

At the beginning of June 2007, five friends and I made a trip from Maryland and Virginia down to Nashville, Tennesee to visit the Parthenon there. This page is both a description of that trip and an offering to Athena, as I am dedicating my efforts and creativity to her.

History -The Parthenon in Nashville was built for the 1897 Centennial celebration of Tennessee. It was rebuilt in the 1920’s as a more permanent structure than the one built for the Centennial. The Athena statue was added later on. Both the building and the statue are full scale replicas of what once stood in Athens. The statue of Athena is 42 feet tall and is the world’s largest indoor sculpture. She stands on a pedestal that is 5 feet tall.

The Parthenon sits at the edge of Centennial Park. It’s a beautiful structure. You can see the frieze at the top.
A casting of the two friezes are in the room behind the naos (which is the room Athena is in).

Here’s a close-up of the actual frieze on the front:


photo by Brian McGahren


The first frieze in two parts:




The second frieze, with a close up on Athena in the center:

It would have been nice to be able to walk up the big steps outside and go in through the big double doors, as would have happened in Greece. But this is not actually meant to be a temple, it is Nashville’s art gallery, and since it is a paying concern, instead you go through doors below, enjoy the modern convenience of indoor plumbing, and pay your $5 entrance fee. You then go up a few stairs to the level of the art gallery. There’s a video playing, providing some history. You can then go through the doors to the gallery or up the stairs (or elevator) to the level of the statue. When you go up stairs, you get to the top and peak around a pillar. At the
other end of the room, is the statue of Athena.


AthenaFullLength

photo by Brian McGahren

You look up, then you look up some more. And then, when you catch your breath and your brain kicks back in, you can begin to take in the details, of the room, of Her. At least that’s how it was for me. It took a minute or two to adjust. The size of the room makes sound behave slightly off. The air and the energy are noticeably different, too.

I had written a short prayer and had a friend translate it into Greek for us, phonetically. We read the prayer all together. We started quietly, but we soon were echoing in the space. I think we chased a few folks out but that was okay, too.

Great Athena,
Goddess of wisdom, war,
communication, and crafts.
We have come to praise you
and ask your blessings.

Megali Athena,
Ei Thea ek Sophia, Polemos,
Sygkinonia ke Tehnis
Irthame na se Thoxazome
ke na mas thosis tein efhi soo.

Here are some close-ups on the statue, including Winged Nike, the shield, the snake, and Her head.

photo by Brian McGahren

photo by Brian McGahren

photo by Brian McGahren

photo by Brian McGahren

This is a series of pictures I took of the pedestal. There is some overlap.

There were two griffins where I could take pictures. The concrete one is a casting of the ones that are at each corner of the roof. The other fellow was just laying in what appeared to be a temporary space. Perhaps his job is to show the layers of work leading to the gilding?

Road trip – Just for the record, there were six of us in two cars. Four of us rode in my 2006 Honda Civic EX. We had four people, a trunk full of luggage, the air conditioning going full blast. And we got 37 miles to the gallon. Let’s hear it for fuel efficiency.
Music – What’s a road trip without tunes? Since this was also a spiritual pilgrimage, I laid in some Pagan or Pagan-friendly CDs.

  • Bending Tradition by Emerald Rose
  • Archives of Ages to Come by Emerald Rose
  • The Healing Art by Kiva
  • Out of the Corner of the Eye by Kiva
  • Soles on Earth by Zingaia
  • Return to the Goddess by Desert Wind
  • Wytches & Vampires: The Best of Inkubus Sukkubus by Inkubus Sukkubus

And a shot of the road crew. Left to right, Shutterbug, Owlspirit, President Sponge Bob, Stinger, Starborn, and Thunder Bunny.

Shutterbug, Owlspirit, Sponge Bob, Stinger, Starborn, Thunder Bunny

photo by Brian McGahren