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Page last updated on: April 6th, 2021

Athena and the Price of Impiety

Meropis was a young girl who lived with her two siblings, Vyssa and Agron, and her father, Eumelus, on the Greek island of Kos. She and her family had a bad reputation in Kos because of the disrespect ("hybris") for the gods they displayed and the mean way they treated people.

There was only one goddess that the family liked to praise and that was the goddess Hestia because she gave the family rich harvests. They rejected any other god and isolated themselves from all other people.

Many times the family was invited to participate in offerings to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, but Agron's response was always the same - he would not sympathize with a goddess who had eyes as bright as an owl's because his own daughters had very dark eyes.

There were also many invitations for the family to attend the feasts of Artemis, the fierce goddess of the hunt, but again Agron declined, claiming that he detested a goddess who would walk through the woods in the dead of night.

The invitation to honor Hermes, the god of commerce, was also in vain; the family would never sympathize with, much less praise, a god who was a thief.

The gods felt insulted and so they decided to take revenge. For this reason, Athena and Artemis transformed themselves into beautiful women and Hermes into a shepherd, and one night they appeared in front of the family's house.

Once there, the disguised Hermes invited Eumelus and Agron to follow him to the feast the shepherd had prepared for Hermes, and requested Meropis to lead the women to the sacred forest of Athena and Artemis.

When Meropis heard this, she became frustrated and began to insult Athena. As a result, the goddess turned her into an owl. Her sister Vyssa was turned into a seagull by Artemis. Agron tried to attack Hermes with a roasting jack, but the god quickly transformed the unfaithful man into another bird named Charadrius.

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