Female archetypes that help us clarify many aspects of ourselves. Returning to Greek and Roman mythology helps us to understand more deeply who we are, what our core is but also how many different pieces our soul has.
Women who pursue a career, it costs what it costs. Those that, on the other hand, are made possible through marriage. And then women who manage to overcome this apparent existential conflict. In other words, they manage to have the psychological capacity not to identify themselves in an absolute way, in a single way. These women have overcome that dichotomous thought that forces them to make extreme choices.
Athena, Greek divinity: archetype and myth
Athena, known by the Romans as Minerva, was born from the union of Zeus and Meti.
Meti was a very intelligent divinity, so intelligent as to bother Zeus himself. So, fearing that a son so intelligent as to dethrone him could be born, Zeus decided to eat and swallow his lover, mother of the future unborn child. But the birth occurred anyway … Athena was born from the head of Zeus, already with adult appearances.
Athena is the goddess of arts and crafts. She teaches man the art of navigation, of weaving. Thanks to her strategy, she helps the Greeks to win the Trojan War. Her achievements are worthy of a brave warrior and leader. A female archetype who, having never known the mother, identifies with the father!
From the Greek myth to industrial society. Athena woman
Women with great managerial and organizational skills, very capable of finding the right strategy at the right time. They are able to have no scruples in order to achieve their purpose and to carry out their own project, generally in the workplace. Athena women are psychologically strong, ‘cold-blooded’ women even in very stressful circumstances. They have a complex conscience and are capable of adapting to the most demanding work and social needs. They know how to combine manual skills with the strategy of their rational thinking.
Female archetypes. How does Athena relate to the Others?
Athena women don’t care about others’ needs. They expect that if “the others” need, they can always ask for her help! Their attitude is sometimes perceived and judged as lack of interest or lack of empathy. But perhaps, can we understand it as excessive discretion?
Or, we think they are women used to asking when they need something and to act without hesitation. So, they probably expect the same from others. “Others” will ask when they need it. Very simple!
They fail to empathize, much less understand that the other, can have different attitudes and a vision of life not only materialistic, but also emotional and spiritual. The need to fulfill their expectations becomes, for these women, a force that helps them to give up their family, often and without regrets.
They are women who are satisfied with a lifestyle made of routine and everyday life, without renouncing socialization.
Era, known by the Romans as Juno, is the bride and sister of Zeus, the king of Olympus. Her story is characterized by constant betrayals by her husband. In fact, many were the lovers of Zeus both among the female divinities and among the common mortals. Era, with respect to these many betrayals, always reacts by taking revenge on her lovers and never against her husband. This attitude is one of the ways an Era woman could react. This attitude arises from the deep need not to lose her husband, at the cost of immense psychological suffering made up of repeated disappointments, resulting from the various betrayals.
From the myth to the present day. The Era woman and the family
Women who aspire to marriage more than anything else. In fact, they consider the husband as ‘their whole life’ and certainly, after him, the children and the family come. They live for their husband, always by their side.
Jealousy is an element that distinguishes Era women. It is a jealousy not only of a sexual nature but also for little thing … ending up becoming possessiveness. They will also be jealous of the different interests, sports or friendships that the husband may have.
Here, perhaps this could be the best criterion for recognizing an Era woman, that is, when she is jealous of her husband’s personal interests and, above all, does not share with her. She is not jealous of his job, on the contrary, the Era woman will generally choose a man who has a minimum of personal and working depth. No, she is jealous of those cultural or recreational activities that he, rightly, may wish to carry out with his friends. Sometimes, in couple psychotherapy, it is useful to identify if it is a jealousy that has a concrete and realistic foundation or a sort of archetypal jealousy like that of Era.
Clearly the same is true of men. In fact, there are men who express this jealousy, but above all, aggressively-passively, perhaps complaining and occasionally dissatisfying their partner.
Female archetypes compared in today’s society: The Athena woman and the Era woman
Era, as an archetype, manifests itself mainly and fully in the second part of a woman’s life. This woman admires strong and ambitious men and has such a strong desire for a relationship that she can safely overshadow her career. It invests most of its energy in marriage and therefore towards its family unit. At first glance it is easy to confuse her with the woman Athena, especially when she is very young, in fact they are both bright and full of energy, they appreciate culture and men of a certain “depth”.
In a deeper sense, the ambitions of these two female archetypes, Hera and Athena, are different. The Athena woman will spend almost all her energy to specialize and make a career; The Era woman, although often educated, will begin at some point in her life to invest important psychic energies around the theme of the family and above all, on the idea of a relationship with a reputable man. In other words, the difference between these two archetypes lies in the fact that while a woman Athena uses her energies to improve herself on the job, or in any case on her personal projects, the woman Era channels this same energy of improvement, inside the wedding.
This does not mean that the Era woman is less ambitious than the Athena woman, but rather that her ambitions include a husband, children and a family. In this sense, contrary to what one might easily think, the Era woman is much more ambitious than her sister Athena. She wants everything: a comfortable home, safety, friends, a wonderful husband, intelligent children and a job. At the same time, she is quite realistic, so she realizes that sometimes you can’t have everything, so in her hierarchy of preferences she puts the relationship with her husband first.
Unlike Athena, who often has an ambivalent relationship with her husband and children, the woman Era explicitly demonstrates her dedication to her partner and children, demanding however obedience and good education. Since she cares about social status and respectability, she often becomes too strict with both her husband and children. In fact, she expects them to reflect her values in the best possible way.
From a personality point of view, it is not difficult to find narcissistic traits in these women.
Female archetypes: Athena and Era compared. The conclusion
In conclusion, we can begin to think about not seeing these two female archetypes, Era and Athena in absolute opposition, but we can start looking for harmony between the two.
For example, the Era woman could consider the possibility that it is very risky to invest all of herself in her husband and children. Perhaps she could take into consideration the fact that investing in work and friendships would also be very useful for a better sense of self-efficacy, thus raising her self-esteem. Thus, the woman Athena, could consider the idea of forming a family by finding a compromise with this and the job. Taking into account that sooner or later, she will retire. The risk could be to find herself without a child, a husband or friendships, for having spent the energies in the career. A risk that deserves to be calculated or in any case thought at a not too advanced stage of age.
Remember, opposites are not irreconcilable!