African Athena and The Modern Olympics

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One can only wonder how many African descendants who watched or participated in the 2004 Olympics know the remarkably strong connection between that event and the ancient civilizations developed by their ancestors. To begin with, the city that hosted the 2004 Olympics is named after a black goddess Neith. She became known to the world as Athena.

Neith (also called Ath-neith, Ath-nath, or Asenath hence Athena) was originally an African goddess from Egypt. The worship of Neith was taken to the Greek islands during successive waves of migration of black colonists from the African coasts to Mediterranean islands. These migrations and subsequent contact were very important in helping to establish civilization in ancient Greece.

The fact that black kings from Africa were the first rulers of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea and established civilization there, is very well documented by the ancient Greek writers themselves.

According to the Greek writer Herodotous who is also called the Father of History:

“How it happened that Egyptians came to the Peloponnese (southern Greece) and formed settlements there and what they did to make themselves kings in that part of Greece has been chronicled by other writers. I will therefore add nothing but proceed to mention some points, which no one else has yet touched upon.

For example the names of nearly all the gods came to Greece from Egypt, moreover it was only, if I may so put it, the day before yesterday that the Greeks came to know the origin and form of the various gods …for Homer and Hesiod, the poets who composed our theogonies and described the gods for us… lived as I believe not more than 400 years ago.”

—The Histories Book Two – Herodotus of Halicarnasus (circa 530 BC)


NOT NO MO’ THO’

Today, anyone seeing the manner in which the continent of Africa and its people are portrayed in the global media as famine-wracked, AIDS-ridden, war-torn beggars, may find it extremely hard to believe that back in the time of Plato and, Homer and Hesiod and Aristotle, Africa (or Ethiopia as it was then known) was considered to be the land of the Gods and the center of learning. Its people were thought to be the ablest of any in existence.

Witness this from Homer’s famous Iliad

For Zeus had yesterday to Oceans bound

Set forth to feast with Ethiops faultless men

And he was followed there by all the gods.

The ancient Greeks and others of that era therefore understood very well that goddesses like Athena had had their origins in Africa.


SETTLEMENTS

The first settlements in the ancient Greek islands involving black colonists from Africa are generally attributed to a group called the Danaans or Danids. In ancient Greek and Roman poems and plays the Danids are explicitly described as being “black”.

According to the legends, the king Danaos had fifty daughters and his brother Egyptos had fifty sons. The brothers quarreled and Danaos and his daughters fled the North African coast by sea, hotly pursued by the sons of Aegyptos who wanted to marry the girls. Although the boys eventually caught up with them, the matter ended badly for the sons of Egyptos. After a forced mass wedding, their angry new wives killed all but one of the pursuers during the wedding night.

Only one Danid daughter did not kill her new husband and they continued on as a married couple. It is from that union that the first kings and royal families of early Greece are said to have descended. They came to be known as the Heraklids (from Hercules) i.e. descendants of Danaan-Egyptian colonizers.

Ancient Greek history also indicates how Danaos the father of fifty daughters on coming to Argos took up abode in the city of Inachos and throughout Greece (Hellas) Danaos laid down the law that all people hitherto named Pelasgians were to be called Danaans.


EGYPTIANS AND GREEKS

Homer’s Iliad is also full of references to Danaans and Kadmeians. These are names which most people of the time recognized as having come from Egypt and/or Phoenicia (Canaan). It should be noted that the Phoenicians themselves originally were migrants to the coast of Lebanon from their former Red Sea home near the Horn of Africa.

In fact the name Europa by which West Asia came to be called, originally belonged to a black Phoenician princess from Tyre (modern day Lebanon). Europa was the daughter of the Phoenician king of Tyre. She was kidnapped from the Lebanon coast by Greek merchant sailors and taken to their lands in retaliation for an earlier Phoenician kidnapping of Io, the daughter of the King of Argos, who had been taken off to Egypt.

While the odd woman-stealing episodes are evidence of a rather questionable aspect of this ancient international contact, in reality there were other far stronger and certainly much more civil Egypto-Phoenician connections to Greece.

This can be ascertained from the fact that it is the black Phoenicians or Canaanites who provided the Greeks with the Egyptian-developed symbols that went into making the letters of the Greek alphabet. It is from this very important initial technological transfer that the modern alphabet is derived, as well as the related word “phonetics.”


THE FOUNDING OF ATHENS

The African connection to the city of Athens is also a key part of this ancient and continuous Greco-Egyptian contact. According to some ancient sources, the legendary founder of the Greek city-state of Athens was an Egyptian.

The historian Martin Bernal in his book Black Athena identifies the African founder of Athens as the 12th dynasty Egyptian king or Pharaoh named Ka-Kepra-Re-Sen-Wos-ret l.

Sen-Wos-ret l was referred to in the ancient Greek legends as King Kekcrops. The derivation of the name Kekcrops can be deduced from the first part of Senwosret’s title “Ka-Kep-ra”.

As historian Asa Hilliard points out in the document Egypt Revisited (edited by Ivan Van Sertima) Senwosret l or King Kekcrops reigned from around 1971-1927 B.C.E.

At the time of the founding of Athens, the range of Egyptian power was considerable. It included a number of maritime areas. The sphere of Egyptian influence extended from Somalia in the Horn of Africa up through Arabia and the Red Sea, north to the Mediterranean and the Aegean. This included Libya, Palestine, the Greek islands of the Aegean and mainland Greece itself.

It was therefore King Kekcrops who would have established Neith/Athena as the patron goddess of the city he founded, having taken her from his home base at Sais in the delta region of Egypt where she was already a major deity.


ANCIENT NEITH

In Africa, Neith was a very ancient African goddess of hunting whose worship in ancient Egypt dates from pre-dynastic times. In that early era much of the action took place in the Southern or Nubian part of Egypt. This is increasingly being recognized as the real cradle of that great African civilization. Much of the region has now been flooded to create the Aswan dam, thereby submerging a great deal of important archeological evidence of Africa’s incredible past including many important temples and sacred sites.

In fact, Neith was considered to be the oldest of the Egyptian deities. In the ancient Egyptian story of Hor-us and Seth, it was to Neith that the gods appealed for judgment during the Great Row between those two.

Neith eventually favored Hor-us over his uncle Seth who had conspired to kill Osir-is the father of Hor-us in order to take over the throne. Neith argued that by the law of succession, the throne should be given to Hor-us the son of Osir-is, and not to Seth the murderous brother –even though he was senior.

After Hor-us regained the kingship he rebuilt the temples that had been destroyed by Seth and reestablished a reign of truth and justice (Maat). Seth was banished to the Syrian deserts as the god of storms. It is from Seth that the word Satan is derived.

The story of Neith, Hor-us and Seth is therefore important in the examination of Athena and King Kekcrops because it was the founding mythology of ancient Egyptian civilization.

The story dealt with the time of the demi-gods before Egyptian civilization was established. It is especially important because every ruler in the history of ancient Egypt took Hor-us as their role model and considered himself (or herself) to be the living Horus: I.e. an embodiment or incarnation of the son of Osir-is.


ATHENA

As the oldest of the Egyptian goddesses, Neith/Athena was often regarded as the universal mother and guardian of both men and gods. The symbol of the goddess Neith/Athena was a shield and crossed arrows and she wore the red crown of Lower Egypt, which indicated her connection to the delta region close to the Mediterranean coast.

Because Neith was also a patroness of the domestic as well as the martial arts, her arrows were sometimes interpreted as the weaver’s shuttle.

Weaving was an important art form in ancient Egypt. It was the basis of the clothing industry. The men stayed at home working the looms and weaving mostly linen, while the women went off to sell in the marketplace. Trader women and male weavers is a tradition that still persists in some Western African societies where weaving is still common. It is also interesting that the oral traditions of some of the major Western African population groups (e.g. Ashanti, Bambara, Igbo Yaraba, etc.) trace their origins back to earlier migrations from ancient Egypt and East Sudanic Nile Valley locations.


PARTHENOS THE VIRGIN

Given the importance of Neith to ancient Egyptian life, it should come as no surprise that SenWosret l (King Kekcrops) would hold the goddess in high regard and make her his patron deity –and “vice versa.” According to legend, Athena chose the Acropolis in Athens as her dwelling because the king’s palace was there.

Even the Encyclopedia Britannica with its normally very strong Euro-centric mandate admits that Athena was a Pre-Hellenic (pre-Greek) goddess who was taken over by the Greeks.

In Greece, Athena kept her Egyptian attributes and was known as the protectoress of the city, and the goddess of war, handicraft, and practical reason. In Homer’s Iliad, Athena is the war goddess who fought alongside the Greek heroes. The Romans later identified Athena with the goddess Minerva.

Along with being guardian deity of the City of Athens, which bears her name, this African goddess was also associated with the owl (wisdom) and with the snake (magical power/royalty).

In the legends, Athena had no divine husband or offspring; therefore in Greece she was often described as being a virgin. This led to her being given other names such as Pallas and Parthenos (virgin). It is from the latter title that the practice arose of calling her temple The Parthenon.


ATHENA AND THE NEW OLYMPICS

The story of the city of Athens, the Goddess Neith and Ancient Africa could easily end here, but there is another very direct connection of this triad to both the ancient as well as the modern Olympic Games.

The initiator of the modern Olympics was one Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a citizen of France who was born in 1863. The Baron, who was from an upper class family, was keenly interested in education and apparently in history as well. In 1892 he proposed the establishment of a new era in international sport, partly as a means of bringing peace to a fractious Europe. This was to be achieved by reviving of the Olympic games. Initial reception of the idea was apparently quite tepid.

Two years later at a conference on International sport he raised the issue again. Interest was still minimal, but Coubertin persisted and a committee was formed.

Athens, Greece was certainly not the first choice for a venue. It was initially agreed that the revived Olympic games should be held in Paris six years later. However it was then decided that a six year waiting period would be too long, so the venue was changed to Greece, which, after all was the original home of the ancient games.

At first Athens refused to stage the games at all but Coubertin and his 14 member committee persisted, and the revived games were eventually opened by the king of Greece in the first week of April 1896.

Apparently the first games were sometimes boisterous and rather haphazard affairs, and given the upper-crust origin of those involved, there were a large number of shooting and yachting events. Women were allowed to compete in golf and lawn tennis. Furthermore in an era in which white supremacy was a widely endorsed notion and segregation the standard operating social practice, it was a given that non-whites were not at all welcome as participants.

By the time the Third Olympiad rolled around in 1904 there was talk of staging special events for ‘oddities’ such as dwarves, American Indians, Orientals and Negroes.


MISSED LESSONS OF HISTORY

It should be noted that when the Olympics were revived at the beginning of the 20th century, the suppression of the record of Black achievement and the promotion of an Aryan based mode of historical retrospection were also in full swing. Therefore, it probably did not matter much to the revivalists that when the ancient Greeks started their first Olympics circa 776 BCE, it was to the ancient Egyptian blacks that they had turned for advice.

As Herodotus indicated: during the reign of the Pharaoh Psammis, the king was visited by deputies from the state of Elis in Greece who had come to boast about the organizational excellence of the Olympic Games. They thought their games could not possibly be run better or more fairly, even by the Egyptians themselves who (at that time) were considered to be the ablest people in the world.

Herodotus states “…the king summoned a meeting of the most learned of his subjects, who proceeded to ask questions to the Eleans, and received in reply a full account of their method of organizing the games…the Eleans then said they had come to find out if the Egyptians could think of anything fairer to suggest.

The Egyptians, after considering the matter, asked the Eleans if they allowed any people from their own city to compete in the Games. They were informed that competition was free and open to members of all the Greek states, including Elis.”

According to Herodotus these black skinned woolly haired Egyptians then expressed the opinion that “to organize the games on such principles was not fair at all; for it was quite impossible, when men from one’s own city took part in some event, not to favor them at the expense of strangers. If they really wanted fair play at the games and if that was indeed the purpose of their visit to Egypt then they should open the various events to visitors only, and not allow anyone from Elis to compete.”

The reader should think about all the above the next time s/he encounters any talk about home-court advantage, performance-enhancing supplements, and more especially when seeing or hearing the words: Athens, Olympics, Ancient Egypt or…Nigger!

Nuff said!

Annu Mauro

August 22nd 2004


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11 thoughts on “African Athena and The Modern Olympics”

  1. i am pleased to see these kinds of sites of which educate black people about our roots and culture.I am currently researching my roots as i am a descendant of the ancient egyptians i would like more information about the Rahshashas/Nagas of Sri lanka.From my research i have found that they were descendants of the high priests of ancient egypt.

  2. It is a shame that contributions made by blacks through history have been buried and in many cases remain unknown. What are they so afraid of?

  3. As a Rasta descended from Greece, I’m proud to read such a well-researched account of the true history of my ancestors.

    On visiting Athens University in hearing a long list of the ancient connections between Greece and Ethiopia, Ras Tafari commented in his autobiography:

    “We were pleased to hear these words of friendship gleaned from ancient history and expressed Our profound gratitude”

    The words of Jah, I could not put it better.

  4. I am doing a school project, and I need to know on eof the pharoahs names that reigned while the ancient egyptian olypics were goin on. Can somebody tell me? PLEASE???

  5. The Phoenicians’ DNA is J2 (M172) — according to genetic studies the origin of this DNA is (Anatolia, Turkey) NOT Africa.

  6. Anatolia (Turkey) was originally African. Read ancient Anatolia before the Hittites 1750 BC. Unfortunately for you even the Hittites were originally Black. But that is another history lesson. A true white cannot possibly produce a Black child. You fail to realize that Blacks precede whites in EVERY country. Blacks are the original shepherd kings. Black Africans migrated all over Europe & Asia before whites came into the scene.

  7. I think this is a wonderful source of information, especially for all us supposed “white’s” out here. I have read Herodotus and come to the same conclusion you reached just be reasoning and adding up all the dates. So you have my greatest admiration for bringing this issue so eloquently to the forefront.

    The one answer I have never found is where did the “white’s” start? Where is the trunk of our tree or are we not a tree at all but branches that just got lighter with time (maybe the environment played a role is all this pigments in our Ancient time). But, if you have an idea I would love to hear it.

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