Gender and Organisations
Edited by Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou, Cary Cooper and Caroline Gatrell
Chapter 7: Goddess Athena as leader and mentor in Homeric epics
This chapter studies one of the most famous mythological origins of women leadership development by exploring the role of the goddess Athena in the Homeric poems, Iliad and Odyssey. Greeks in their first instituted direct democracy in 508 BC regarded Homer as a part of the culture and education (paideia) of their successful members and citizens in the polis, identifying the qualities of leadership and recognizing the role of mentoring. Homeric poems could be used as a foundation of a new insight into the origins of women mentoring and leadership in one of the most ancient texts of human history. From the perspective of literature and mythology, leadership development practice seems to have an almost three thousand year history starting from the mythological action of Athena in the Homeric world. By underlining the significance of identifying mentoring and leadership skills that are innate to human societies and specific to their training development process, it is suggested that the Socratic value of “know thyself” is similar to the early leadership role of Athena in the ancient classical world. It seems that Athena acts as a mentor of heroes to guide them or to inspire them to behave as leaders.
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