Athene Goes to Nashville

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A wonderful response to a picture challenge.

Athene Goes to Nashville

Athene climbed the steps of the building. There was no doubt about it – it was an almost perfect copy of her temple in Athens. Almost, but not quite. To start with, it was white, while in the great days of Athens, the Parthenon was bright with paint and gilding. She stretched out a hand and touched a pillar - plaster. That wouldn’t last very long, while the stones of her temple had lasted thousands of years.

The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1897

She stood between the columns and looked out at a grey sky and drizzle. The weather was better in Athens. Her temple was built on a great rock, raised above the city, while this building was set in a flat park, with neat lawns and little trees. It interested her to travel like this – going to places with links to the city named after her. She’d been to some strange places and learned a great deal. This place had that unmistakable air of fake she’d noticed in some of the places she visited.

Two women and a man approached. The ladies' clothes looked uncomfortable - pinched at the waist - and they carried contraptions of cloth on frames, apparently to keep off the rain. The man wore a shiny top hat and dark jacket.

"It’s a grand building," said the young woman.

"We want people to know Nashville is a centre of culture and learning," said the man. "As well as a great place for trade and manufacture."

The older woman looked at the figures on the pediment. "Those people are naked," she said, in a disapproving tone.

The young woman giggled. "Perhaps the ancient Greeks didn’t mind."

"Of course, they were pagans" said the older woman. "They didn’t have the benefit of a good Christian education."

The man smiled. "The original Parthenon was built two thousand years ago. We've learned a lot from the Greeks, but we're building a better and stronger civilisation." He opened his arms out wide. "Ours will grow and flourish and astonish the world."

"Let’s get out of the rain before we catch cold," said the young woman, with a shiver.

As the visitors moved away, Athene sat on the steps and smiled. People were more or less the same the world over. She accepted that the time when she was worshipped was long since gone, and that civilisations rose and fell. This one would fall in its time. As long as the human desire to learn and understand remained, there would be the possibility of a decent future.

Poetry and Stories by Minorvogonpoet


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