Atena, also known as Athena in Greek mythology, was of the major Olympian deity. The Sanctuary located on the top of the Punta Campanella promontory, the watershed between the Gulf of Naples and that of Salerno, was dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Who was the goddess Athena
This divinity was considered the goddess of wisdom, arts, sciences, justice, military strategy and civilization. She is often depicted with a helmet, shield and spear, symbols of her protective role towards Greek heroes and cities.
Associated with both war and peace, the goddess has a warrior side and is considered the protector of combatants. In contrast to Ares, which is know for being the brutal god of war, Athena had a strategic and tactical approach to warfare. In fact, she was also known for her rationality, her love of knowledge, and her ability to resolve conflicts peacefully.
The deity was the patron goddess of many Greek cities, including Athens, which was named after her. She was an iconic figure in Greek mythology and a recurring character in literary and artistic works of ancient Greece. Its influence also extended to culture and philosophy, contributing to the formation of the ideas and values of ancient Greek civilization.
In the Roman cult, Minerva was the divinity corresponding to Athena. Her cult played a significant role in the religious and cultural life of ancient Rome. Indeed, her figure represented important Roman virtues and ideals such as wisdom, strategy and justice.
History of the Sanctuary of Athena
On the top of the Ateneo promontory, current Punta Campanella promontory, stood the sanctuary of Athena. Built by the Greeks, it was first a Greek and then Roman temple dedicated to the deity, protector of sailors and traders. The presence of the Sanctuary of Athena is testified by historical literary sources, from Strabo to Tito Livio. Another reference also appears in the ancient Roman map “Tavola Peutingeriana”.
The final confirmation of the position of the Sanctuary on the extreme tip of the Punta Campanella promontory came from an exceptional discovery which occurred in 1985. It was an ancient epigraph carved on a rock written in the Oscan language, dating back to the first half of the 2nd century B.C. This epigraph was of a public nature and mentioned three Magistrates of Minerva, known as Meddices Minervii, who supervised and verified the construction of the works relating to the landing and the eastern staircase leading to the Sanctuary.
Some remains of the haven dedicated to Athena can still be seen at the end of an exciting trekking route. It is very likely, in fact, that the ruins still visible near the Saracen tower of Punta Campanella are what remains of the foundation of the temple, located to the south of the tower.
Myth of the Athena’s temple
The legendary foundation of the holy place in Punta Campanella is attributed to Ulysses. During ancient times, it was the home of the sirens Leucosia, Parthenope and Ligeia, known for their enchanting song that deceived all sailors, making them lose control of their ships. The sagacious Ulysses, to protect his companions, made them wear earplugs, thus allowing the ship and his friends to arrive unharmed at the dock on the Punta Campanella promontory. Grateful for Athena’s guidance and protection, as a sign of devotion, Ulysses built the temple in honor of the goddess.
Therefore, it represents the meeting point between history, myth and legend of this territory. A heritage that would enrich not only the natural beauty, but also the historical and archaeological beauty of Massa Lubrense.