From a hill in Brooklyn the Roman goddess of wisdom and justice waves to the Statue of Liberty. And not just from any hill, but Battle Hill, where not just any old battle was fought, but the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27th, the first and the largest major combat after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. We lost, and the British had control of the Port of New York for the rest of the war.
Now it’s peaceful on the hill which is part of Green-Wood Cemetery. The bronze Minerva, or Athena as the Greeks knew her, was unveiled in 1920 to commemorate the 144th anniversary of the battle. She was originally a goddess of war—defensive war only—before she became a patron of music and poetry, sponsoring the arts and trade, medicine and wisdom, justice, law, victory, weaving and the crafts. And there she stands at the top of the hill, the highest elevation in Brooklyn, waving to the Statue of Liberty 3½ miles away in New York Harbor.
Two strong and fearless women, one in a glorious helmet and armor decorated with snakes, the other designed after the Roman goddess Libertas, her crown of seven spikes a symbol of the seven oceans and seven continents of the world, her tablet a book of law.
Their eyes lock. Lady Liberty raises her torch with her right hand. Minerva salutes back with her left.
In 2005 another battle brewed. Now it was between Green-Wood and the real estate developers who would have blocked their view of each other. The city intervened in 2008. Their interlocking gaze was preserved. For now.