The Trojan Women

Athena Character Analysis

The Greek goddess of wisdom and war. She, along with Hera and Aphrodite, participated in a beauty contest judged by Paris. Because the Trojan Paris did not select her as the winner, she sided with the Greeks in the Trojan War. However, when Greek soldiers desecrated her temple Athena quickly turned against them.

Athena Quotes in The Trojan Women

The The Trojan Women quotes below are all either spoken by Athena or refer to Athena. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cost of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of The Trojan Women published in 2013.
Line 1-97 Quotes

The will of the Argive Hera and Athena won
its way against my will. Between them they broke Troy.
So I must leave my altars and great Ilium,
since once a city sinks into sad desolation
the gods’ state sickens also, and their worship fades.

Related Characters: Poseidon (speaker), Athena, Hera
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
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Poseidon: You hated Troy once; did you throw your hate away
and change to pity, now its walls are black with fire?
Athena: Come back to the question. Will you take counsel with me
and help me gladly in all that I would bring to pass?
Poseidon: I will indeed; but tell me what you wish to do.
Are you here for the Achaeans’ or the Phrygians’ sake?
Athena: For the Trojans, whom I hated this short time since,
to make the Achaeans’ homecoming a thing of sorrow.
Poseidon: This is a springing change of character. Why must
you hate too hard, and love too hard, your loves and hates?
Athena: Did you not know they outraged my temple, and shamed me?
Poseidon: I know that Ajax dragged Cassandra thence by force.
Athena: And the Achaeans did nothing. They did not even speak.

Related Characters: Poseidon (speaker), Athena (speaker), Cassandra, Ajax
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The mortal who sacks fallen cities is a fool
if he gives the temples and the tombs, the hallowed places
of the dead, to desolation. His own turn must come.

Related Characters: Poseidon (speaker), Athena
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Line 860-1059 Quotes

She mothered the beginning of all this wickedness.
For Paris was her child. And next to her the old king,
who would not destroy the infant Alexander, that dream
of the firebrand’s agony, has ruined Troy and me.
This is not all; listen to the rest I have to say.
Alexander was the judge of the goddess trinity.
Pallas Athena would have given him power, to lead
the Phrygian arms on Hellas and make it desolate.
All Asia was Hera’s promise, and the uttermost zones
of Europe for his lordship, if her way prevailed.
But Aphrodite, marveling at my loveliness,
promised it to him, if he would say her beauty surpassed
all others. Think what this means, and all the consequence.
Cypris prevailed, and I was won in marriage: all
for Greek advantage. You are not ruled by barbarians,
you have not been defeated in war nor serve a tyrant.
Yet Hellas’ fortune was my own misfortune. I,
sold once for my body’s beauty, stand accused, who should
for what has been done wear garlands on my head.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), Hecuba, Menelaus, Athena, Hera, Aphrodite, Priam, Paris
Page Number: 919
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Athena Character Timeline in The Trojan Women

The timeline below shows where the character Athena appears in The Trojan Women. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Line 1-97
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Poseidon blames Athena and the Greek architect Epeius, who designed the famous Trojan horse, for Troy’s destruction. However,... (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Athena and Hera supported the Greek effort, and Poseidon admits that their will conquered his. (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
The goddess Athena descends from above to join Poseidon. She acknowledges Poseidon’s seniority and power, and hopes they... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Although Athena fought against Troy, she has come to Poseidon with a proposal to punish the Greek... (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
With the help of Poseidon and Zeus, Athena wants to make the Greeks’ journey home long and treacherous. She hopes to teach them... (full context)
Line 461-567
The Cost of War Theme Icon
...a peace offering and a surrender. The Trojans delivered the horse to the temple of Athena, and celebrated, dancing and singing into the night. Then, suddenly, the Greeks burst out from... (full context)
Line 860-1059
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Hecuba begins her rebuttal by defending the gods. She is skeptical that Hera and Athena were contestants in the godly beauty contest in which Helen claims Paris won her hand.... (full context)