Athena’s gift

Before becoming a precious gift for humanity, the olive has been an object of victory and defeat. Greek mythology, in fact, narrates the quarrel between Poseidon and Athena for the possession of Attica, a piece of land in Greece. Obviously, we are not talking about just anybody: Athena was the goddess of agriculture, arts and crafts as well as of order, law and justice, whereas Poseidon reigned over the earthquakes, the water and the Mediterranean sea. Both decided to leave the decision to the citizens, who asked each of them to perform a miracle.  Immediately, at Athena’s will, from the arid rock of the Acropolis an olive tree richly loaded with olives came forth; as for Poseidon, he split the cliff with a single, mighty stroke of his trident and a fountain spurted forth water which, however, was salty. People appreciated both miracles and the discussion about who was to be considered the most admirable went on for quite a long time but in the end they decided that the victory was Athena’s. Poseidon’s fountain was considered extraordinary but useless since it was salty, whereas the olives meant food, medicine, skin care, combustible, lighting and a means of payment, in other words, a highly valued product to be used to the very last drop. Poseidon did not want to accept the verdict and made a last attempt to beat Athena by sending down to earth a magnificent, foaming, excited horse made of huge waves, a very impressive and spectacular act which, however, did not modify the citizens’ decision.

The brilliant, creative and intelligent goddess had indeed made mankind a unique and precious gift! But if some entirely agree with this opinion, there are others, like me for example, who are unable to fully appreciate it.