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Athens Foundation : legend

The history of the Athenians begins with a myth. In Athens, like a bit everywhere else and from immemorial times, the inhabitants have transmitted to each generation the history of their city, in the form of songs, these legends are often a reflection of true facts, deformed by time and mythology.

According to the legend, in the beginning was a goddess, Athena, which was identified at the city she created. Another version of the myth claims that Athena was not the founder, but only the goddess who gave it her name and became its protective.
This legend tells, that when the city which will become Athens had hardly been founded, the Fact (the Destiny) decided it would become very rich, thrives, and the most powerful city of all Greece. So,Athena decided to take it under its guard. But, Poseidon also wished it under its protection, since it was close to the sea.
Athena and Poseidon were opposed, none wanted to yield the young city to the other. Zeus does not succeed in putting them in agreement, so Athena proposed to let decide the citizens of whom would be their guard. Athena and Poseidon joined together the people of the city on the acropolis and said that they were going each one to offer a gift²: the one considered to be the best would give the victory. Poseidon revealed a splendid horse, Athena gave birth from the ground an olive-tree. An elder ahead affirm that the two gifts were worthy to be chosen, and precised: the horse represents power, courage, the war, whereas the olive-tree prudence, serenity, peace. The old man also said that the war could bring richnesses, on the other hand, even if peace brought less beautiful and original goods, they were more secure and durable. All approved and chose the gift of Athena, which gave finally its name to the city.
After the choice, the citizens promised to Poseidon to raise a temple for him and that they would make him the offerings due to keep his favor.


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