Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece

The Contest of Poseidon and Athena


There once came a time in Ancient Greece when the first king of Athens, Cecrops, who was half person and half snake, had to find a patron deity for the city state of Athens.

The two Olympian gods who were particularly interested in the patronage were Poseidon, the god of the Seas and Athena, the goddess of Wisdom and Skill. They presented themselves in front of Cecrops and Cecrops asked from them to offer a gift truly valuable for Athens.

Poseidon came first: he struck the earth powerfully and created a well with his trident. Immediately, streaming water shot forth, but the water turned out to be salty and not very useful for the population.

Next, it was the turn of goddess Athena. Athena stepped forward, struck her spear into the ground and then she kneeled and planted an olive branch in it. This way she created an olive tree, as a symbolization of peace and prosperity on earth.

Cecrops was very impressed by Athena’s gift. So he chose Athena to lay claim of the city of Athens and the city was named after her. God Poseidon, however, was not pleased with the decision of Cecrops and cursed the city of Athens to never have enough water from then on. After that, it is said that a major problem of water shortage started in Athens, which continues until nowadays.

Myths about Poseidon