Queen Athena is an important character from Disney's 2008 animated film The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, prequel to the 1989 film The Little Mermaid. Her speaking voice was provided by Lorelei Hill Butters, and her singing voice was provided by Andrea Robinson.
Queen Athena was the wife of King Triton, and the mother of Ariel and her six older sisters. She was the Queen of Atlantica, and beloved by her family and subjects. She was noted for her singing talent and her love of music. She and Triton had been the best of friends ever since their childhood. Unfortunately, she died as a result of a run-in with a big pirate ship when Ariel was very young. A statue of her dancing with Triton is present in his courtyard.
Queen Athena is shown to be a stunningly beautiful and attractive merwoman with long, red hair tied in a partial pony tail, green eyes, and a green tail.
Of all her daughters, her youngest, Ariel, resembles her the most. This is most obvious in the original release of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, at least 23 years following the film's events, when Ariel has matured and become a mother herself. It is possible that the animators of Athena based her appearance on the mature version of Ariel.
Role in the film
Athena appears at the very beginning of the film. She and Triton are shown to be very much in love. They are shown to share a special song (known as "Athena's Song"). They share the song with their daughters, and use it as a lullaby. One day, they are relaxing in a cove with the princesses and some other merpeople. They are celebrating their anniversary, and so Triton gives Athena a special music box that plays their song. However, pirates soon approach the cove and attack the merpeople. Most of the mermaids and mermen escape safely, but Attina, the oldest princess, gets her tail stuck between two rocks. Athena is able to free her, but she is crushed to death by the ship while trying to save the music box, and the ship sinks after hitting the rocks.
Athena's death leaves Triton completely devastated. As a result, he tosses the music box in the ocean, bans music from the kingdom, forbids contact with the land above, and raises his daughters very strictly. However, Ariel and her sisters inherited their mother's love of and talent for music. Later on, Ariel references her at several points. When she learns of the Catfish Club, she sings a song remembering her mother and her love for music. Later, when confronting Triton over his ban of music, she points out that her mother wouldn't have wanted music to be banned from the kingdom. She had sacrificed herself to save them.
In the European and Sacramento productions of the musical based on the first movie, Ariel and King Triton learn during the last confrontation that Ursula killed Ariel's mother.
In "Once Upon a Time", she was indirectly mentioned like King Poseidon's unnamed deceased wife and Ursula's mother. In this version, she had also a beautiful singing voice, inherited by her daughter and died under tragic circumstance, killed by a pirate.
- Her death may have been a reason behind Triton's prejudice against humans.
- Although Athena is mentioned quite a few times prior to the release of The Little Mermaid III, this is the first time she is actually seen.
- Athena bears a shocking resemblance to that of Ariel. They both have a similar hair color, and an acclaimed singing voice. However, their similarities are even more noticeable in The Little Mermaid II, where Ariel has grown to look almost identical to her.
- Although Athena and Ariel look quite similar, it is impossible for Ariel's appearance to be based on her mother's, because Athena made her first appearance in the third film, while Ariel appears in all three, including the television series. In fact, Athena's appearance was probably based on that of the matured Ariel from The Little Mermaid II, which was released 8 years prior to the third film.
- Like Mufasa and Bambi's mother, she is one of the character's parents to die.
- Athena and Ariel's likeness could have partially contributed to the reason Triton is so protective of the latter.
- Athena's eldest daughter's name, Attina, is a variant of her own, which explains why they sound so similar and it could mean that she was named after her.
- Athena is the name of the Greek Goddess of wisdom, warfare, and battle strategy.
- Peter David attempted to write Athena's story comic book titled Portrait of Life. Here, named Atlanta, she befriended a human artist named Duncan and posed for paintings. Triton allowed this, thinking that humans weren't so bad. However Kole, a rival artist, jealous of Duncan's success and talent, tries to kill him by letting loose an avalanche, but Atlanta, while pushing him out of the way, got crushed by the rocks herself. Enraged, Triton confronts Kole, terrifying him and falls off the cliff. Turning his anger to Duncan and ready to destroy him, the voice of Atlanta appears in the clouds asking Triton to spare him. Leaving with the unfinished painting of Duncan's, he returns to the sea to mourn. The story went unproduced and rejected as a result of its dark tone.
- The idea, displayed in the musical version, that Ursula is responsible for Athena's death, seems hard to make fitting with the alternate version of her death seen in Ariel's beginning, although Ursula may have revealed to the pirates seen in the movie where the mermaid was, or magically led them here.
- In Greek mythology, Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis (the latter was stuck inside Zeus' head), and Triton is the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, and Zeus and Poseidon are brothers. This means that Triton and Athena are actually first cousins, and yet they still married. (This may actually explain why they look so much alike, both having red hair when Trition was younger.) However, most pictures of Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, do not look much like the Queen of Atlantica, and she may have just had the same name as the goddess, meaning she and Triton are unrelated.
- Her being unrelated to the Greek goddess of the same name is also supported by Graeco-Roman Mythology, where she and Triton were not married.
The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning