bring owls to Athens

bring owls to Athens

Meaning | Synonyms

  • something that is pointless
  • a useless or futile act
  • an unnecessary venture
  • something highly uneconomical
  • a redundant idea
  • Something superfluous

Example Sentences

  1. The chancellor has a plan to increase taxes, thinking that this would improve the economy. It would bring owls to Athens.
  2. ‘That was a really pointless waste of money, it brought owls to Athens‘ he shouted angrily.
  3.  She hated buying gifts for her wealthy friends, ‘It’s like bringing owls to Athens‘ she laughed to herself.


This phrase is a wonderful ancient Greek proverb.  It is said that an abundance of owls famously roosted in the rafters of the original Parthenon (before it was burnt down). The owls became a symbol of the city over the years and were sacred to Athena the goddess.

The silver coins of local Athenian currency featured an owl. The Athenians mined their own silver and from this they minted their own coins, so they had need of nothing more. The proverb is stating that to bring owls (either the birds or coins) to Athens would be a pointless exercise, because they have plenty of their own, anymore would be superfluous.


B 1 Thought

1 Thought

Never heard this idiom but it’s sort of covered by bringing coal to Newcastle. Newcastle being the traditional coal mining capital of Great Britain.

- Anonymous April 27, 2020

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