Weaving Athena: An object-focused study of girls and women approaching Athena as a poliadic deity
This paper will present an ethnographic study of the lives of the girls and women who were involved in the annual adornment of Athena Polias at the Panathenaia. This will include both those who wove the peplos and members of the wider Athenian community who participated in the festival. Therefore, this study will include the young arrhephoroi, the Ergastinai (‘weavers’) who were maidens of marriageable age, the Priestess of Athena Polias, and the Athenian and metic girls who participated in the procession – in other words, a representation of every female belonging to the Athenian population. Through this study, I will discuss what the physical act of worship (the production of a specific object and the act of processing) can tell us about how individuals approached Athena as the goddess of their city, and how this was expressed specifically for women and girls. This study will articulate the specific influence that Athena had, both as a ‘female god’ and a poliadic divinity, in the lives of the individual females who were involved in her worship. Thus, it will comment on Athena as a living goddess to her worshipers.