Athena (Ancient Greek: Αθηνη) (sometimes she is called Pallas Athena) was the goddess of wisdom, mathematics, civilization, the arts, reason, skill, and war. Her Roman name is Minerva. She was a child of Zeus and Metis (Titaness), Zeus' first wife. After Zeus swallowed his wife, who was heavily pregnant with Athena at the time, Athena was born by springing out of Zeus' head, fully grown and wearing full battle armor. She taught humans skills such as weaving, sewing, farming, and metalwork. Her symbols are the olive branch and the owl. Athena rules over the capital of Greece, Athens. The city name of Athens comes from the goddess' name. Athena was also present at the birth of Artemis and Apollo.
Birth of Athena
Zeus and Metis (Titaness) are Athena's parents. Being the father, Zeus learned that Metis' children would overthrow him like he had overthrown his father. Afraid of this, he swallowed Metis. Unknowing that Metis was pregnant, she gave birth to Athena inside Zeus, and trained her. Zeus had a splitting headache, and asked the god of forge and fire, Hephaistos, to cut open his skull. Smashing Zeus' head with his mighty ax, Hephaistos split Zeus' skull, and out sprung Athena, dressed in full battle armor.
As a young goddess, Athena befriended a daughter of the sea god Triton, Pallas. Pallas was one of the only naiads who matched the war goddess's strength and skill. The two were having a friendly sparring match. As Pallas was about to strike the goddess, Zeus shielded Athena with the Aegis, surprising the naiad. Athena accidentally killed Pallas. Athena, grieving for her friend, carved a statue with the countenance of Pallas, and placed it in her sacred temple. This statue became known as the palladion. Athena then took her lost friend's name, and was then on known as Pallas Athena.
Rivalry With Poseidon
Athena had a rivalry with Poseidon. Her rivalry with Poseidon started with Athens. They both wanted to be patron of the city, and thus gave gifts. A saltwater fountain was Poseidon's gift, while the olive tree was from Athena. They chose the olive tree due to its usefulness. Not long after, an earthquake hit Athens, destroying all olive trees in the area. Her rivalry with Poseidon continues when Athena caught lovers Poseidon and Medusa showing affection in her own temple. That sort of behavior is a big sign of disrespect so Athena turned Medusa so hideous that no one could or would ever look at her again. Poseidon exacted retribution from Athena by massacring several Athenians, until they built an Acropolis, honoring Athena and Poseidon.
Thus Athena was officially the patron goddess of Athens, unofficially, it belonged to Poseidon as well. Not long afterward, Theseus, a son of Poseidon became King of Athens.
Arachne was known for her skills in weaving. Arachne was known far and wide for weaving great and splendid rugs. She was taught by Athena, but claimed to have not and to be much better than she. Athena had favored her, and needed to know herself if this boasting was real. She disguised herself as an old woman, and asked her. As soon as Arachne boasted, she transformed back to her normal form. Athena challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. They had both woven gorgeous rugs, but Athena's was better. Arachne's had a controversial picture of the Olympians on it, and Athena turned her into a spider so she would weave forever..
According to Apollodorus, Athena visited the blacksmith Hephaestus to buy weapons from him, but he was so overcome by desire for her that he tried to seduce her in blacksmith workshop. Determined to maintain her virginity, Athena fled, pursued by Hephaestus. He caught Athena and tried to rape her, but she fought him off. During the struggle, his semen fell on her thigh, and Athena, in disgust, wiped it away with a scrap of wool and flung it to the earth. As she fled, Erichthonius was born from the semen that fell to the earth. Another version recounts how Hephaestus wished to marry Athena, who, like himself was a patron of smiths because Athena refused his hand as, according to some account she found his limp ugly.
- Minerva (Roman form)
- Pallas Athena
Importance and Functions
Athena is considered Zeus's most powerful child. She is the patron goddess of arts and crafts, like metalworking and weaving. As goddess of wisdom, she offered wise counsel and helped promote civilization, law, order and justice. Athena inspired artists to produce the finest arts. The Athenians believed her to be resourceful and having forethought and memory. She is an extension of Zeus's role as god of humans.
As goddess of war, Athena did not advocate mindless violence. Instead she was involved in battle stratagems, superior troops, courage, strength, skills and weapons. She granted victory to those who deserved it.
She is also a patron of heroes like Heracles, Perseus and notably Odysseus. Athena had a dark side though. She was full of hubris and arrogance and couldn't stand it if someone dared to prove her inferior. She is also vengeful and held grudges against Poseidon and Ares. While Athena feared Poseidon, she loathed Ares and once defeated him soundly.
Images of Athena's Symbols, Attributes and Sacred Things
- There are two theories about why Athena is sometimes referred to as "Pallas Athena."
- The first is that during the Giants War Athena (with aid from a mortal her) killed the Gigantes Pallas whose goat like hide she then used to make her shield out of.
- The second possible reason is that Pallas who was that there was a nymph of Lake Tritonis in Libya, North Africa. Pallas was a companion of Athena's. In their childhood war games, Athena accidentally slew Pallas. She took on the title "Pallas" so that she would pay homage to her fallen friend.
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|Related Articles :||Mount Olympus • Protogenoi • Titans • Gigantes • Demigods|