Athena, referred to as “Grey-Eyed” or sometimes as Pallas, or Pallas Athena (“pallas” being Greek for “maiden”) was a virgin goddess, beautiful but dispassionate, the daughter of Zeus by his first wife, the Titan Metis, goddess of good counsel, who he swallowed whole when she was disguised as a flea. Pregnant with Athena at the time, the young goddess sprang fully grown and wearing armor from Zeus’s head when it was split open by Hephaestus after the King of the Gods complained of relentless headaches. The patron goddess of Athens after she won their favor over Poseidon (he gave them a salt-water spring, she gave them the first olive tree), Athena was a popular Greek goddess but much less important to the Romans, who referred to her as Minerva. The goddess of wisdom, justice, law and the arts, she was of all the gods the most interested in humanity and her benevolent acts towards mankind include helping Prometheus smuggle fire out of Olympus and presiding over the first trial that absolved Orestes of the curse on the house of Atreus. Her symbol was the olive tree, her sacred animal was the owl.

Ashley Cowan’s play surrounding Athena takes place in modern day and explores a “hidden relationship” between Athena and Hephaestus right before he married Aphrodite. The piece gets behind the myth in which Hephaestus makes an advance on Athena (resulting in his semen prematurely landing on Gaia and creating a child) while she questions whether love can exist in reason and logic. Aphrodite and Athena remain close friends as they plan Aphrodite’s wedding but Athena struggles with her true feelings toward Hephaestus and her sense of duty to be a rational and intelligent woman. An exploration fueled by the timeless question, can only fools fall in love?

ATHENA by Ashley Cowan

staged reading July 29, 2010

Directed by Ashley Cowan

Theresa Miller (Athena)

Xanadu Bruggers (Aphrodite)

Ben Euphrat (Hep)

Chris Quintos (Hestia)

Neil Higgins (Stage Directions)

Ashley Cowan is originally from Avon, CT and is a graduate of Roger Williams University, located in Bristol, RI, where she double majored in Communications and Theatre. After graduating she moved to New York City to pursue the stage but was offered a role in Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding in San Francisco two years ago and has been living, teaching, acting, and writing in the Bay Area ever since.

Poster Artist Information: The poster of Athena was created by Celeste Schulte. Visit her portfolio website.