Aesop, Athena and the pious castaway

Aesop, Athena and the pious castaway

In those days of the Golden Age when the gods walked on earth and mingled with men, it happened once ... On the way to Sicily, a rich and pious Athenian merchant sailed on a ship of cargo and passengers, when suddenly, near the strait of Scylla (1), because of a sudden and violent storm, the ship quickly began to make water.

Storm was over and the ship began to sink. And while the other passengers struggled to try to save themselves, now looking for something to float in the water, or preparing to swim to the nearby coast, the rich Athenian clung to the edge of the deck, invoking the goddess again and again. strong> Athena (2), promising him effusively, all kinds of offerings if by his means he managed to save himself.

The storm continued to grow in violence and fury, and the heart of the pious Athenian was shrinking little by little, like that, fearing the worst, the merchant redoubled the intensity of his prayers. But in this, one of those who were going to be shipwrecked with him shortly, and who was preparing for it, heard him and said:

- "Ask and pray to Athena , but also to your arms. "(3)

Aesop concludes his fable with this reflection:

Ask the gods for help, when you need their help to solve your problems, but first show them that you are already working to solve them . (4)


(1) This reflection or similar ones are also found in many other Aesop fables. The idea, in another form, is that things go better and you get the help of the gods (or Fortune) if while praying for it, one does not forget in the meantime to continue working on solving the problems for those who request, the pious, divine help. The reader will not fail to note the similarity between this idea and many others later, such as: the Spanish refrain To God praying and with the mallet giving, the Anglo-Saxon: Help yourself and God will help you , Or the Ora et Labora of San Benito .

(2) According to Greek mythology Scylla and Caribdis were two sea monsters located on the opposite shores of a narrow water channel - currently the Strait of Messina, located between what is now Calabria, in southern Italy, and the island of Sicily - . So close were its shores that the sailors who navigated those waters, trying to avoid Caribdis passed very close to Scylla and vice versa. The phrase "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean the state where one is between two dangers and to move away from one means to approach the other. Scylla lived on the cliffs and Caribdis took the form of a dangerous whirlpool. Neither of the two destinations was more attractive than the other because both were difficult to overcome.

For a better knowledge of this topic read for example the complete citation at:

(3) Athena , also known as Pallas Athena is known primarily, in Greek mythology, as the goddess of war but She is also praised as the goddess of civilization, wisdom, strategy, arts, justice and skill.It is necessary that, before any adversity, we activate our neurons and our arms, before our prayers. (I do not say instead of or as opposed to , but prior to our supplications to Higher Powers.

Seen at:

(5) The credit of the image used is: «JEAN LOUIS THÉODORE GÉRICAULT - The Balsa de la Medusa (Louvre Museum, 1818-19)». Available under the Public domain license via Wikimedia Commons. Who we appreciate your courtesy to facilitate the free use of this image.

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