I am happy to announce the winners for the Agon. I’ll be contacting you all tomorrow shortly to sort out addresses for mailing, etc.
First Place: “God Minerva” by V. Carper
Second Place: “Hymn to Minerva” by J. Lawrence
First Place: “Petition” by KJF
Second Place: “Say…” by Mollie D.
I want to thank everyone for contributing to this Agon. Please send me your addresses and let me know which of the prayer cards you would like as a thank you. (Minerva, Apollo, Apollon Karneios).
When they brought her statue
to the foot of the Caelian Hill
like a spoil of war for Nerio
after it had been taken
from Civita Castellana
they had no idea how she
would enthrall all of them.
The Carmen Saliare would sound
as the shields clanged together
on the Quinquatrus each year
before her temple at the Caelian
and the Aventine as well.
She was like a second Bellona,
but not married to Mars,
and more temples would come
when she was considered a third
of the Capitoline Triad
and when Nerva completed
the work of Domitian
in time to inspire Hadrian.
Arachne, they say, would challenge
Minerva’s supremacy in skill
at weaving, but in truth,
Minerva had captured them all
in her web, woven from Etruria
to Athens to Dalmatia to Britannia—
most patient divine spider, web-spinner.
My father Zeus on altars high
received the sacrifices grim;
for this I suffer and I sigh,
for loss of grace, for loss of him!
The ephebe of Arcadia
in cohorts taking from the pot
would fear that it would be to he
to whom would fall the fateful lot.
Eating flesh forbidden to men
by Zeus’ law–supreme, divine–
would get the youths nine years astray
across the lake in shapes lupine.
The ancient warlike primal race
had generations acting so;
thus by the Fates fair Zephyros
would blow to foul my discus throw.
Thousands of those youths uncounted
would return to polis intact,
but every death in wilds accounted
a debt to me in this dark pact.
And so I suffered when in love
not mere exquisite pains of joy
but sorrow, loss, and tragedy
for that fair flowering Spartan boy.
He was my own ephebic friend,
companion, hero, light of day,
a lover never truer found
nor with more passion in his play!
But jealousy of Zephyros
soon blowed to foul my discus throw
and struck full sore the hero’s head
with blood outpouring, laid him low.
He was cruel ransom for the deaths
of so many in wolfish form
as Lykaon’s sin was repaid
by Zeus in diluvial storm.
We gods are not apart from pain,
no strangers are gods to sorrow;
for short moments I had pleasure,
but no more will come tomorrow.
I joined myself to his body,
I took myself his name renowned;
his glory celebrated yearly,
with wilting sadness I am crowned.
Make offerings on his behalf
and mourn a day for love ended;
I howl from Arcadia’s peaks
with wolfish heart, never mended!
by Amanda M.
Of glorious Minerva, guardian of the polis, I begin to sing.
Minerva, you were my first true love. You are tall, beautiful, proud, stoic, and wise. You don’t take shit from anyone. As a child who is bullied by both parents and peers, I appreciate your gumption. Even when the whole world tells me “no”, you show me that women have a place in the government, in the military, as masters of their own destiny.
I write a short story about you for a classroom assignment in history class. You are clever, strong, and intelligent. You’re everything I want to be.
2008 to Present
While I am visiting family in New Mexico I find a little soapstone owl, carved by Mexican artists. It reminds me of your Athene noctua. I pack it up in my skirts, hoping it won’t break on the flight back to North Carolina.
I’m about to start graduate school. I seek allies, and I am told that you are there, waiting for me. I’m surprised, but no one else is. You have always been there, waiting for me. I know this now.
I have a little porcelain owl with a cute face. I don’t know where it came from. I bring the owl to my internship, tucked away in my bag, safe between books on racism and labor rights. I find a place of honor for your owl in my little office. Sometimes during the day I take time out from my work and study to talk to it. Sometimes I kiss the little owl.
In social work school I learn about social justice. I learn about the ills that plague a fair and just society – racism, sexism, classism, homophobia. I learn about advocacy for clients. Soon I realize that if social workers have a patron goddess, surely it is you, Minerva. I’m honored that my career is within your domain, and that when I fight for my clients I am also fighting for you. I strive to serve my community, and like Athena of the Polis, I realize that all communities are your communities, too.
I blend oil for you in a little amber bottle labeled with glitter. The highest quality herbs and fragrant essential oils. Every few days I give it a good shake so it won’t settle. Sometimes I close my eyes and I smell it, inhale deeply. There’s just a touch of crushed dragon’s blood resin mixed with ground cinnamon powder, with large drops of lavender. It’s not particularly aromatic, not light or feminine. But this brew is powerful and it smells like you. Like olive oil and patchouli leaf, added in at the last minute.
You are the first goddess I write about on my new blog. A classmate reads my words, much to my surprise. He remarks “wow, I didn’t know any of that about Minerva.”
We swap jewelry as part of a ritual devoted to you. These gems and baubles are to be our symbolic shields. I craft a beaded necklace, wanting to keep it for myself but knowing it needs to go to another. During the ritual, I am given a leather bracelet. It’s heavy, etched with the sun, shaped like the moon. The woman who passes it on explains to me that to her it was a symbol of power, of her own coming into being as a self-aware woman. I like that.
Finally I make my own earrings – chunks of turquoise and little amber beads. I soak these for weeks in your patchouli and olive oil, until the stones start to change color. I wear them like you would wear your aegis. Sometimes I hang the earrings on my owls, because they like to be pretty and powerful, too.
June 2013 – Fortunalia
In between semesters, and I’m anxious about what comes next. I pour your bittersweet oil over the flames, and my comrades remark “wow, that smells good!” I offer my prayers and offerings to you, asking for your guidance. You have walked with me so far, and I hope you’ll remain with me still.
I attend my first Moral Monday march. I’m nervous, but I feel justified. I wear your bracelet with the sun and the moons. I wear your earrings, turquoise and amber. I march and march and march. I chant I chant I chant. I sign I sing I sing. You are with me the whole time. Throughout the summer I return to the weekly marches as often as I am able, and you are with me every time. You are with us always.
A veteran tells me that you were her “first Goddess.” As Pallas Athena, you offered your visage to the Women’s Army Corps insignia. A whole new generation of valor, honor, excellence, and wisdom.
I go to an interview for an internship at a state psychiatric hospital. Before I leave, I offer you prayers and incense. I wear your scent, anoint your owls with oil. I wear your bracelet and your earrings. They don’t match my carefully chosen outfit, but I don’t care. I’m calling on your strength because I need it so badly. This hospital is a new battlefield.
The interview doesn’t go well, but I get the internship anyway. A year later, my supervisor tells me that after 30 years of interns, I’m one of the best he’s ever had.
I’m excellent only because you help me to shine, Radiant Goddess.
Another summer of Moral Monday marches. Another summer with you.
June 2014 – Fortunalia
More prayers, more oil poured upon the flame for you. I’ve finally completed graduate school, and now I’m looking for a job. I’m unemployed and I’m depressed. “You’ve been with me so far,” I pray. “Please do not abandon me now.” My comrades who have struggled and suffered through unemployment understand my pleading. They pray with me. We pray together. We pray to you, Minerva.
After a summer of images of teargas and blood, I’m scared, but I make myself go to the march, anyway. I anoint myself and my comrades with your oil. I wear your jewelry like I’d wear armor. In terror, I watch a friend get arrested. I’m surrounded by hundreds of police officers in riot gear. As the lady of the polis, I realize that you walk on both sides, with both the protestors and the police. You guide us all with your wisdom, leading us on with a sense of justice.
I anoint your owls and images with bittersweet oils. I recite your prayers with a strong voice and steady song. I meditate upon your beautiful visage with love and reverence. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by others far more worthy? What can I sing that has not already been sung throughout the ages? What can I give you that is not already yours?
And so hail to you, daughter of Jove who holds the aegis! Hail, Minerva, and give us good fortune and happiness! Now I will remember you and another song as well.
Gifts from Apollo by Sparrow
It is easy to sing your praises, sweet-voiced Apollo
The gifts you have bestowed on humanity are great!
Music to lift our spirits and to make us dance,
Healing to mend our broken bodies,
Philosophy to deepen our knowledge of the world and of ourselves,
Prophesy to know the will of the Gods.
What gifts shall we give back to You, Lord of Light?
Sweet wine we shall pour forth to You,
Offerings of fragrant incense and delicious food shall grace Your alters,
Words of praise for You shall come from our lips.
Most of all, we will give You our hearts,
It is the least we can give to the One who has given us so much.
Io Apollo! May You always be praised!
One more day for the Agon, folks. Entries can be made until 9pm EST tomorrow. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow night quite late, or early Wednesday.
We will have a first and second place prize for Minerva, and a first and second place prize for Apollon.
1st Prize: . a small, handmade statue of Minerva by Lykeia; five prayer cards of Minerva.
2nd prize: a photo of the Pantheon by Hudson Valley photographer M.A. Glass
It was damned hard deciding which of these should be first prize and which second! Let me tell you. I decided at the last moment to make the prizes equivalent, but there was a lot of back and forth for me on this.
1st Prize: a small handmade statue of Apollon by Lykeia and five prayer cards.
2nd Prize: a copy of “Names of Apollon” by Lykeia
Plus, everyone who entered gets a choice of one prayer card: Minerva, Apollo, or Apollon Karneios. (Please email me with your mailing address and let me know which you prefer).
that is all for now. I’ll announce the winners soon.
Hymn to Apollo
By J. Lawrence
Hail Apollo, Son of Zeus, son of Leto!
Today let me sing of Your glories,
You whose brightness fills the world,
you who slew the monstrous Python and
made his cave of hidden knowledge
Your holy place of wisdom and foresight.
You whose golden arrows soar from far-off Delos,
striking down the impious, the blasphemous,
the wicked and the greedy, the inhospitable,
and those consumed with arrogance.
Leader of those gifted and beauteous Muses,
You who all arts praise and celebrate,
we greet You with gladness and reverence,
with awe stealing the breath from our throats,
and with gratitude for all You have given us.
You, whose merest touch heals our injuries,
You whose kindness binds our wounds,
and chases the pestilent sicknesses from our frames,
stems the flow of blood when we are hurt,
and in whose name temples of healing were raised.
Let us bring wine and barley to celebrate Your name,
let us garland the doorways and burn frankincense,
crown Your statues with laurel boughs,
let us sing to You so long as there
is breath in our lungs, blood in our veins,
and let every gladsome and joyous thought we know
come back around to You at last.
O Apollo: Phoebus, Musagetes, Aegletes,
Lyceus, Helius, Cynthius, Acesius, Iatrus,
Apotropaeus and Genetor, Manticus, Hecaërgus:
For each name, a story, a song, and praise,
And all of them I offer to You.
Hymn to Minerva
by J. Lawrence
Hail Minerva, dignified, regal,
Enthroned in stately splendor among Your kin;
to You this day we offer all honor and praise,
and sing our adorations of Your many gifts to us.
Goddess of wisdom, we revere You;
we bow and adore You, ever-thankful,
Raising our voices in grateful hymn.
In Your name were books written, lectures given,
libraries raised to hold the words of
thousands of men and women You inspired.
Goddess of a thousand arts, we revere You;
You who rule over all the arts,
Guiding all craftsmen, all painters,
all who spin, weave with wool,
And those who raise their voices
In poetry, story, and song.
Goddess of strategy and of arms, You inspire
those warriors who take up arms against our foes.
Lady of a million battles, You have shown us
that winning a war consists not merely of
more men and weapons than our enemies,
but the tactics to use them with sense, as well.
Daughter of Metis, we revere You;
All-wise, all-brilliant, all-giving, all-strong;
You are Your mother’s daughter,
and never shall we cease to sing your glories.
Just a quick reminder to all my readers, only eleven more days remaining in the Agon for Minerva and Apollon. If you’ve been thinking about submitting something, you have eleven days left in which to do so. I’ll be closing the Agon to submissions on March 31 at 9pm EST.
There will be a first and second prize for Minerva, and a first and second prize for Apollon. Everyone who submitted a piece will receive a prayer card (of Minerva or Apollon–your choice).
If you have a devotion to either of these Deities, please consider contributing something. 🙂
by Rowan G.
Shining one, Whom bards delight –
Swift of striking, long of sight,
Fierce to foe, silver bow –
Lord who paves the dawn with fire,
Play your hearers as Your lyre:
Shining sun, Blessèd One.