From Library Journal
Unlike Lee Hall's recent Athena: A Biography (LJ 4/1/97), which was a lay reader's approach to mythology, Shearer, a Jungian analyst, informs her exploration of Athena's shape-shifting over the course of centuries with a grounded knowledge of imagery and symbols from ancient cultures. Atop the Acropolis in Athens stands the most famous representation of the goddess: with spear and helmet, she bears the goatskin aegis and the Gorgon's head. Her great gift, when she choose to bestow it, is "foresight, discrimination, and harnessed power that understands precisely the fitness of every action." Shearer painstakingly illustrates the goddess's power to effect transformation. From Greek myth, Shearer pursues Athena as Minerva in the Aeneid and the attributes she shares with the Virgin Mary and the allegory of Wisdom; later, Athena assumes her opposite as the Black Virgin and Lady Alchemia. Shearer even finds Athena's spirit manifested in Florence Nightingale. An elegant study for informed readers.?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In Aeschylus, Athene appears as "all for the father," voting to find Orestes not guilty of murdering his mother on the grounds that women are unrelated to their offspring, serving only as containers for masculine seed. This hardly seems to qualify her as a feminist heroine, yet behind the Hellenic virago was a complex, powerful goddess whose image has inspired artists and thinkers for more than 2,500 years. Shearer introduces the many ways Athene's image has been employed: as mother-goddess, as the wrath of Medusa, as the intellectual Minerva, as intact virgin, as symbol of wisdom. Illuminated by feminist recognition of the multivalent quality of any great myth, Shearer knowledgeably takes us through the great goddess' varying reconstructions. Full of fascinating material--Florence Nightingale kept a pet owl to further her identification with Athene, some Black Madonnas take the stance of the Athenian maid, etc.--this is a fine resource on a complex and powerful mythic figure. Patricia Monaghan