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Hubback, J. (1997). SHEARER, ANN. Athene: Image and Energy. London: Viking Arkana (Penguin), 1996. Pp. x + 310. Hbk £25.00.. J. Anal. Psychol., 42(4):694-695.

(1997). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 42(4):694-695

SHEARER, ANN. Athene: Image and Energy. London: Viking Arkana (Penguin), 1996. Pp. x + 310. Hbk £25.00.

Review by:
Judith Hubback

This book is attractive, it has an alerting title, the contents are enterprising and scholarly, and there are wide-ranging illustrations and references. Those modern readers whose knowledge of the details of classical Greek mythology is possibly thin, need not fear that they will find the book difficult: Ann Shearer's style is racy and contemporary. Her first chapter is an overview covering the wide range of Athene's attributes, a modern interpretation of the significance of her peculiar birth from the head of her father Zeus, and her relations with other ancient Greek deities; it also sketches in her potential for throwing light on the development of woman's consciousness right down to the present. The bulk of the book is then a historical elaboration of those themes, rounding it off in our post-Freudian and post-Jungian age. The representations of the shadow side of woman are well described: at different times she was Medusa, the Gorgon, Lilith, the witch, the suffragette. The split image is there, also the productive duality, as in those formidable virgins, Elizabeth I and Florence Nightingale.

Shearer knows very well that our modern views are not new-minted. She shows how many women held them, even if surreptitiously, in periods when ‘man’ was the basic person and ‘woman’ was inferior. Athene's energetic and enquiring mind did not exist for St Augustine, and medieval academics are said to have asked whether woman has a soul at all (in spite of the Virgin Mary!).

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