"The Lady of Athens"
The people of a nameless place
beseeched the Olympians for a patron.
"I will go and take care of this city,"
said Athena and Poseidon
at the very same time.
They glared at each other.
"You will both go," said Zeus,
"and show the mortals what you can do.
It is their decision which of you
to claim as their patron."
Poseidon called on his magic
and brought forth a saltwater spring
which was excellent for trading but not for drinking.
Athena called on her magic
and brought forth a domesticated olive tree
with valuable fruit and oil and wood.
"That is very impressive,"
said the people of the nameless place
as they gathered around the olive tree.
"Wait!" exclaimed Poseidon.
"I have another gift.
I will teach you martial magic and
create the greatest navy the world has known."
Athena smiled and said,
"I, too, have another gift.
I will teach you communal magic and
create the first democracy the world has known."
"With a navy," Poseidon said,
"your leader will be the most powerful man
and you can accomplish anything you want in battle."
"With a democracy," Athena said,
"your people will be the most powerful city-state
and you can accomplish anything at all you want."
Then the people chose Athena as their patron
and named their city Athens.
Athena helped them draft articles of democracy
and fixed Her autograph to the scroll
in letters of gold.
Athens became a seat
of agriculture and government --
and since Poseidon could not take back his gifts,
also a formidable sea power.
The magic of democracy grew
as slowly and surely as olive trees,
sometimes torn apart by savage storms,
but always regrowing
under Athena's mindful care.