We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera

Doris Orgel, Author, Marilee Heyer, Illustrator DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) $22.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7894-2586-7
Orgel (The Princess and the God; Ariadne, Awake!) again offers an original approach to Greek mythology. In a meaty and extended introduction, she outlines her feminist perspective, pointing out the low status of girls and women in ancient Greece and then recalling her own thwarted girlhood appetite for goddess stories (""Too few! too short!""). She lets Athena, Aphrodite and Hera narrate their own life stories. Athena, goddess of wisdom, most clearly questions patriarchal notions; for example, just after she joins the company on Mount Olympus, she is puzzled to hear Zeus speak of Athens as ""the foremost city of men"" (""Won't women live there too, and children?"" she asks). Aphrodite, goddess of love, delivers the least involving narrative; she seems more vain than erotic. By contrast, the section on the goddess of marriage, Hera, offers the most provocative spin. This Hera admits that ""quite often"" she is ""jealous, angry, vengeful."" But her account of her marriage to the faithless Zeus makes readers understand her bad behavior and appreciate her marital fidelity. Orgel pays close attention to the judgment of Paris (Paris's choice of Aphrodite as the fairest goddess led to the Trojan War, as Orgel shows). In an epilogue, the goddesses have resolved their differences and none wants to repeat the contest--perhaps an overly optimistic ending, but indicative of the volume's idealism. Heyer's (The Weaving of a Dream) illustrations are oddly conventional; their pretty representations, paradoxically, undercut the vigor of Orgel's bold interpretations. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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