Bewildering Stories

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Ask Athena

by Steven Utley

O, Wise Athena,

I am a recent convert to paganism and greatly admire you as the goddess of wisdom, arts, and defensive warfare. I would become your worshipper and try to be worthy of you, but that whole chastity thing is a bit of a turn-off. You’re supposed to be impervious to love, and I want to keep my options open regarding romance and marriage. Would I be more comfortable worshipping Aphrodite, or Hera, or even one of those beautiful Northern love goddesses like Freya? — VACILLATING VIRGIN

Dear Vacillating Virgin:

Worshipping Aphrodite is easy, but, then, so is she. Hera is jealous, exacting, and vindictive, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she can’t keep Zeus at home or that their kids have so many problems. As for a certain Norse bimbo, I can tell you for a fact that that’s not her real hair.

* * *

Dear Athena,

I’m a shepherd and spend most of my time in the hills, minding my flocks and my business. Well, one day, this great-looking woman appears out of nowhere and completely naked except this weird little cloud, and so what am I going to do but look. I mean, it’s natural, right? THEN she reveals herself as some goddess and because I’ve stared at her divine person I get withered on the spot. Is this fair? I mean, who appeared naked to who? — SHRIVELED & SEETHING

Dear Shriveled: No, it most certainly isn’t fair, as mortals reckon fairness. It is, however, all in a day’s work for a divinity. Just deal with it.

* * *

Most Divine Athena,

Please help me. I was with my girlfriends in a meadow when a great bull carried me across the sea to Crete. There I found out it’s not a real bull at all (like I didn’t have my suspicions by then) but this guy who says he’s “the Ruler of Olympus, Lord of the Sky, the Rain God, the Cloud-Gatherer, and the Wielder of the Awful Thunderbolt” (in his words). But even though he’s a god and I’m a mortal (and in spite of the difference in our ages), we hit it off pretty well and one thing led to another, if you get my meaning. The next thing I know, I’m going to have a baby and I haven’t seen or heard from the “Wielder of the Awful Thunderbolt” in weeks! And I hear he’s in the habit of disguising himself as a bull or a swan or even a shower of gold and going after every woman he sees. Plus, he’s married to this insanely jealous goddess, but she won’t rein him in, oh no, she’s got to take it out on the poor unsuspecting women ol’ “Lord of Olympus” has seduced. I keep telling myself that maybe these are only legends, but it doesn’t help. I’m confused and scared. Please tell me what to do, Goddess. — KNOCKED UP IN KNOSSOS

Dear Knocked Up: Your story and the one preceding it are typical of many I hear. Far be it from me to harp on Hera’s home life; my advice to you is to stay indoors and sacrifice to Hestia. This may not save you from being turned into a bear, but, as a mortal, you have only a mortal’s limited options. Sorry.

* * *

Applications to the Goddess may be made at the Parthenon, or, if you can’t get to Greece, at the full-size replica in Centennial Park, Nashville, Tennessee. Don’t forget to bring a sacrifice.

Copyright © 2004 by Steven Utley

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