Image: Book IV: Athena and the Swift Arrow


Menelaos, the blessed immortal gods did not forget you,
but first and foremost is Zeus’ daughter, the driver of spoil,
who, standing before you, deflected the sharp arrow.
Indeed, she kept it away from his skin, like when a mother,
brushes a fly from her child, lying in pleasant sleep,
herself straightening it to where the the gold belt clasps
and the two parts of the corslet met.  

οὐδὲ σέθεν Μενέλαε θεοὶ μάκαρες λελάθοντο
ἀθάνατοι, πρώτη δὲ Διὸς θυγάτηρ ἀγελείη,
ἥ τοι πρόσθε στᾶσα βέλος ἐχεπευκὲς ἄμυνεν.
ἣ δὲ τόσον μὲν ἔεργεν ἀπὸ χροὸς ὡς ὅτε μήτηρ
παιδὸς ἐέργῃ μυῖαν ὅθ᾽ ἡδέϊ λέξεται ὕπνῳ,
αὐτὴ δ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἴθυνεν ὅθι ζωστῆρος ὀχῆες
χρύσειοι σύνεχον καὶ διπλόος ἤντετο θώρηξ.

(Iliad, 4.127-133)

Menelaos has been shot, but he’s still alive!  Zeus wants to rekindle the fighting. so what does he do?  He calls upon Athena to cause some disturbance.  She goes to Pandarus and tells him to shoot an arrow at Menelaos.  She only wants to injure him to get the Achaeans fighting, so she makes sure the arrow only wounds him and does not kill him.
I made Athena’s portrait very owl-like, as she is associated with this animal.  I even went to the point of attaching feathers to her eyebrows and planting a little bird and next on her head.


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