THE RAVEN OF THE ACROPOLIS
From the vast number of small bronze offerings found at the Acropolis, one can single out the lifelike figurine of a raven with a prominent beak, the position of its legs suggesting that it is ready for action. The raven was admired in antiquity for its intelligence and for its ability to guide wayfarers through desert lands, to presage the future through changes in its pitch and flight pattern, and to herald the arrival of rain or the onset of wind with its croaking.
Legend has it that the raven had once been white. One day, however, when the raven brought back news to Apollo of the unfaithfulness of his lover Coronis, Apollo in a fit of rage turned the raven’s feathers black. There was a similar myth about the carrion crow, which Athena also turned black when it revealed to her that the daughters of Cecrops had disobeyed her orders and opened the chest containing the infant Erichthonios. Athena then banned the carrion crow from the Acropolis, replacing it with the owl.