According to one myth, the first Athenian citizen was born from the earth after the sperm of a rejected lover, the god Hephaistos, dripped off the virgin goddess Athena's leg and onto fertile soil. Henceforth Athenian citizens could claim to be truly indigenous to their city and to have divine origins that bypassed maternity. In these essays, the renowned French Hellenist Nicole Loraux examines the implication of this and other Greek origin myths as she explores how Athenians in the fifth century forged and maintained a collective identity.
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