Beth Meadows

About the Painting: The Owl of Athena

"art", "painting"BComment

The Owl of Athena
acrylic, oil, and varnish on canvas
approximately 4.5 x 6'

I decided to make this painting while I was making The Poltroon Hard at Work (Athena and Cyclops), shown below.

To explain The Owl of Athena painting, allow me to quote directly from Wikipedia:

In Greek and Roman mythology, Glaucus is the symbolic owl of Athena, or Minerva, respectively. Often referred to as the "owl of Athena" or "owl of Minerva", it accompanies Minerva in Roman myths, seen as a symbol of wisdom because the owl is capable of seeing even in the dark and of vigilance because the owl is awake at night.

The nineteenth-century idealist philosopher G.W.F. Hegel famously noted that "the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk"— meaning that philosophy comes to understand a historical condition just as it passes away. Philosophy cannot be prescriptive because it understands only in hindsight.

"One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it... When philosophy paints its gloomy picture then a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly."


To me, the owl of Athena is a symbol of the tenacity needed to pursue wisdom. In other words, it takes persistence, even vigilance, to make sure our mistakes don't destroy us. When we fall down we either choose to become resentful and bitter, or we choose to go after goodness, truth, and understanding.


The original painting and prints of this painting are for sale. One may also view this painting at my show on November 5 at the Birdhouse.