Acropolis tour: Athena vs PoseidonAthens, Greece
An unusual self-guided audio tour to explore Acropolis from a different point of view, with credible & original stories written by top local professionals. Take your tour now & enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
“Acropolis Arena: Athena vs Poseidon” is mythology galore, a tour of the Acropolis based on the immortal and nail-biting story of the feud between Athena and Poseidon for the right to call Athens their city. It takes an exceptional deity to become the protector of a city as glorious as Athens. When the Athenians called for candidates, two contenders came forth: Athena, the goddess of wisdom, craft, and civilization; and Poseidon, the god of earthquakes, the sea, and horses. They both promised impressive gifts but there could be only one winner.
The tour begins at the Propylaea with a presentation of the two contestants: Athena, whose bizarre birth from the head of Zeus was actually preceded by the transformation of her mother into a fly with blacksmithing skills, and Poseidon, who experienced a most traumatic childhood when he was eaten alive by his father. The tour’s core is the Erechtheum, a temple built by the ancient Athenians specifically to commemorate the contest between Athena and Poseidon.
As you walk around this incomparable jewel of classical architecture, you will learn about the details of the contest and the series of terrible punishments Poseidon inflicted on the people of Athens for their perfidy and insolence. Floods, flesh-eating sea turtles, bandits, and divine offspring were all unleashed by Poseidon against the hapless Athenians. Finally you reach the Belvedere where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Athens and Mount Lycabettus, whose very presence on the horizon is a constant reminder of Athena’s unceasing efforts to protect her city.
1. The adversariesFighting out of one corner is the daughter of Zeus, fully armed, wise beyond her years, a feisty virgin goddess. Her adversary is her uncle, the esteemed and primordial bearded god of horses, water, and earthquakes.
2. Oil and water don’t mixThe contest for the city of Athens was a family affair pitting two generations of gods on the bare rock of the Acropolis, before an astonished crowd of Athenian royals and common folk. There could be only one winner.
3. The benefactressAthena proved a blessing for the city and the people. Her patronage and generous gifts transformed Athens from an insignificant group of hamlets to a superpower. Adding a hill to the landscape was an unexpected bonus.
The adversariesMetis, despite finding herself in Zeus’ stomach, remained pregnant and determined to provide her future children with everything they needed. She made a golden robe for her fetal daughter and then forged a helmet. She used a hammer to pound the metal into shape (Zeus’ diet must have contained high doses of metal: he was the god of the thunderbolt after all) but the hammering gave her divine host a most annoying headache. Eager to find a cure for this unexpected ailment, Zeus sought the assistance of his son Hephaestus, who was skilled with tools. He used a hammer (or an axe) to cleave his father’s head. Athena jumped out fully grown (with her robe and helmet), but Zeus’ head closed before Metis (or any other offspring) could escape.
How women lost the right to vote
Oil and water don’t mixA different version of the story claims that the olive tree and the briny water appeared suddenly; Cecrops asked the oracle of Apollo at Delphi as to the meaning of these objects and he was told that the people of Athens had to choose which god they preferred as their patron. Cecrops called a general assembly and put the matter to the vote. Men chose Poseidon but the women cast their ballot for Athena and won by one vote. Poseidon was furious and flooded the plain of Athens, leaving only a small patch of land above the waters. To appease the god, the women abdicated the right to vote and agreed to name their children after the father (instead of the mother as was the custom until then).
A chest full of snakes
The benefactressAthena placed Erichthonius in a chest and added two snakes to guard him. She forbade the daughters of Cecrops from opening the box, but two of them disobeyed her. Terrified at the sight of the snakes wrapped around the baby, the girls threw themselves off the Acropolis. At the time, Athena was coming back to the city with an enormous rock to improve the defences of the Acropolis. When a hooded crow told her what had happened, she dropped the mountain in anger, and cursed the bird never to fly near her sanctuaries. To the present day, hooded crows avoid the Acropolis while the mountain became Mount Lycabettus whence flowed a river that supplied the city with water.
The team behind the stories at Clio Muse consists of a dedicated long-haired art conservator, an inquisitive bespectacled historian, a passionate feminist curator, and a gifted graphic designer with a permanent tan.
|Starting point||Propylaea, Acropolis, Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athens|
|Finishing point||Acropolis View Point|
|Opening hours||Winter (1 Nov. to 31 Mar.): Mon.- Sun. 08:00 - 17:00, Summer (1 Apr. to 31 Oct.): Mon.- Sun. 08:00 - 19:00|
|Additional admission||General €20|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.