Tuesday, July 1, 2014

TFBT: Athena Could See in the Dark

Latest research from the Oinops Group at Hour 25 indicates Athena can see in the dark! http://hour25.heroesx.chs.harvard.edu/?p=6152

So the theory is that Athena of the “flashing-eyes” has “tapetum lucidum” like deer in the ditch on a dark night and consequently notices that the water is deep blue at Odyssey 2.420. So at least metaphorically, she can see in the dark. 

I never thought about this before.  It would explain how Zeus found the magic herb that would have made the giants invulnerable when he banished the Hyperionides from the sky.  Zeus could see in the dark and the Giants couldn’t . (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 34 – 38) It explains how the Muses saw events at night, like the Doloneia and could inform the poets.  It explains how Hermes (in his hymn) so successful stole Apollo’s cattle at night while only “Selene's soft light shone down”. 

 I will have to think on this


  1. If Oceanus and Tethys were biologically fitted to deep-sea environment, Athena and Hermes could inherit tapetum lucidum from them.

  2. Maya M,

    Athena, Hermes and the Muses have Zeus in common as a father. Could the tapetum lucidum be inherited from he rather than the distant Oceanus and Thetys


  3. Of course it could. I doubt, however, that it is possible to distinguish between a family trait inherited from Zeus and a "species-specific" trait common to all gods. This is because Zeus fathered a disproportionally large number of the younger divine generation (a phenomenon called in biology "founder effect") so that it is difficult to collect a control group who are NOT children of Zeus for comparison.
    It is, however, easy to distinguish between traits of Zeus and those of Hera, because most children of Zeus are from other females. E.g. we have Zeus himself swallowing a wife and ordering an opponent to be eaten alive, a son of Zeus skinning an opponent, another son managing for an opponent to be ripped apart, a third son killing and cooking his own son (indeed, the last is not so exceptional in Greek myth)... and when a 4th son of Zeus kills his children for no apparent reason, it is claimed that Hera sent him madness! Always women to blame!

  4. Maya,
    if we are looking for a species specific trait outside Zeus prodigy wre could look to the cildren of Night and to thePontides. Not a lot of intermarriage there.