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Greece » Sterea » Attica » Athens » Athens History » How Athens was given its name
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How Athens was given its name

Before it took its actual name, Athens was called Akte (meaning “coast” in Greek), a name given to the city after its first king Actaeos. Later on, Kekropas, who was believed to have the body of a dragon, was married to the daughter of Actaeos and became the king of the area. It was in his time that Athens was given its current name after Athena (Minerva), the goddess of Wisdom. According to the myth, king Kekropas decided to ask for a god to become the protector of the city; there were presented two candidates: Poseidon, the god of the Sea and Waters and Athena the goddess of Wisdom.

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As nobody would leave the place to the other one, the two gods decided to compete offering a precious gift to the city; the king and the people would be the final judges. Poseidon, who was the first, planted his trident in the rock and a brook with fresh and cool water spurted from the arid soil, a really precious gift for Attica. Athena, who followed Poseidon, stroke her spear on the rock and a small olive tree suddenly grew up. Kekropas was very impressed by the gift of the goddess and, along with the votes of the women, he declared Athena the victor of the competition and ever since she became the protector goddess of the city to which she also gave her name. But Poseidon got angry with the result of the competition and punished the city by depriving it from having enough water. It is said that the lack of water in Attica ever since is due to the anger of Poseidon, which lasts …until today. It is also said that since lack of water was a crucial problem for the area, the Athenians decided to punish the women of the city, whose votes gave the victory to Athena and not to Poseidon; and the punishment was to deprive all women from the right of voting!

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