Attributes & Myth about Athena – the Greek Goddess of Wisdom
In ancient Greek religion and Athens, Athena was worshiped and adored as the guardian of the city, deity of war, handcraft and applied reasoning. During the Roman era, Athena was the equivalent of Minerva. Basically, Athena was associated with urban and cultured activities: the opposite of Artemis in many ways. As a Greek goddess of wisdom and war strategy, the ancient Greeks prayed and offered several sacrifices to Athena to keep them safe and prosperous in their endeavors.
Athena’s Origin Story
Athena was brought into being in extremely incredible conditions. After Zeus discovered that Metis’ next infant, Athens, could dethrone him, he gulped down Metis, who was expecting a child (Athens). When it was time for the child to be born, Zeus began experiencing awful headaches. Because Zeus could not tolerate the headaches any longer, Hephaestus smashed him using his ax. Athena then sprang out of the skull of Zeus, completely armed and with a wail so powerful and terrifying that both Uranus and Gaea trembled with horror. Zeus was pleased and proud of this.
Athena and Pallas
When Athena was young she had a friend she treasured the most. This friend was called Pallas. Pallas was Athena’s match in the virtuosity of war. Unfortunately, Athena slew her friend by accident when they were training in some fighting workouts. Devastated, she made an effort to honor the memory of her friend by adjoining her friend’s name with hers. This explains why Athena has been known as Athena Pallas in some Greek mythological stories.
Attributes of Athena
Athena was undoubtedly one of the most famous deities on Mount Olympus. As patron goddess of the City of Athens, the Greeks venerated her in so many aspects of their lives. Below are some major attributes of the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena.
The Virgin Goddess
Athena was certainly not influenced by affection or desire, similar to that of Artemis. Thus, she never begot any offspring. Some believe that Erichthonius was an exclusion, but he was actually Athena’s foster-son. It is accurate that Hephaestus made an attempt to defile her, but she succeeded in wresting herself from his hold, causing him to spatter his seed over the Earth. The myth goes on to say that the spattered seeds of Hephaestus lead Gaea’s impregnation. Athena also cared for Erichthonius, Hephaestus’ son, after his birth.
Patroness of Athens
There was a great dispute between Poseidon and Athena over who was worthy of being the benefactor of Ancient Greek’s most flourishing city, Athens. Poseidon asserted the city would profit more from him than it would from Athena. To demonstrate this, he rammed his trident through a rock, generating a salty watercourse which surged up in the Temple of Erechtheion. The Erechtheion was located in the northern region of the Acropolis. Athena, being very shrewd, performed nothing outstanding. She simply sowed an olive tree. Nevertheless, Cecrops, Athens’ first king, evaluated the olive tree as being more valuable after coming to the realization that it provided them with wood, fruit, and oil.
Patroness of Handicraft
Athena was a chief crafts worker. Though she was the female equivalent of the Ares, the god of war, she was likewise the woman counterpart of Hephaestus in the area of arts and construction. Homer reveals that Athena made decorative and lavishly embellished fine clothes for the goddess Hera and also herself. Some claim that she was instrumental in the design of war chariots and warships.
Though, the most well-known legend which associates Athena with handicrafts is the tale of a human female craftsperson by name of Arachne. Arachne bragged she was more dexterous than Athena. Athena presented her opportunity to atone for her insolence. Arachne declined the offer, so Athena dared her into a weaving contest. The deity made a gorgeous arras which depicted the dreadful destiny of the humans who were hubristic enough to defy the Greek gods and goddesses. Arachne opted for a theme that illustrated tales of human beings unfairly mistreated by the gods. Arachne never had the opportunity to complete her theme because the infuriated Athena shredded Arachne’s textile into fragments. The fuming Athena also transformed Arachne into a spider. For the remainder of her life, Arachne was condemned to forever weave from that time.
Helper of Heroes
As a war deity connected to wisdom, Athena was frequently the key aide of Ancient Greece’s mightiest champions. She was nothing like Ares who was connected to sheer brutality and violence. Most notably, Athena directed Odysseus during his decade-long return trip to Ithaca. She also aided Perseus, Argus, Heracles, and others.
12 Ancient Greek Myths about Athena
The following are some very important myths about Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war strategy:
- She was the most beloved offspring of Zeus.
- Zeus had faith in her to the extent of allowing her to handle his thunderbolt and also the aegis.
- Her most essential festival was the Panathenaea. It was observed yearly in Athens.
- Athena was a supporter of the arts and craftsmanship, particularly in spinning and weaving.
- She is spoken of in poesy as being “gray-eyed.”
- She devised the flute, though she never played it herself.
- Athena cared for Ericthonius, Hephaestus’ son (half man, half serpent). She placed the child in a chest and handed it over to others to look after, banning them from opening it. When they eventually opened it, she caused them to lose their minds as punishment.
- She was among the trio that were revered as the Three Virgin Goddesses. The other two goddesses were Hestia and Artemis.
- Athena along with Hermes helped Perseus in his mission to slay Medusa. Medusa was this ghastly frightful being that transformed into stone those who stared into her eyes. She offered Perseus her shiny shield, which he managed to use to observe Medusa. Again, Athena steered his hand as he decapitated Medusa using his sword.
- Athena aided Hercules (Heracles) when, as a constituent of his penitence, he was commanded to get rid of the Stymphalian birds. She managed to aid in making them move, while Hercules aimed and shot them.
- Recognized as a guardian of cultured life, she was the deity of the Urban.
- She was admired for her sympathy and kindness.
Commonly asked questions about Athena
We’ve summarized the story of this ancient Greek goddess with the following questions and answers:
How was Athena born?
Athena is said to have sprung fully grown and armored from the forehead of her father, Zeus, after he swallowed her pregnant mother, Metis.
What symbols are associated with her?
Common symbols associated with Athena include the owl (a symbol of wisdom), the Aegis (a protective shield), the olive tree, and the spear.
Was she a virgin goddess?
Yes, Athena is often referred to as “Athena Parthenos” (Athena the Virgin), and the Parthenon temple in Athens is dedicated to her in this aspect.
What role did Athena play in the Trojan War?
In Homer’s Iliad, Athena sided with the Greeks during the Trojan War. She often provided guidance and protection to key Greek heroes, including Achilles and Odysseus.
Did she have any rivals?
Athena and Poseidon vied for the patronage of the city of Athens. After each presented a gift to the city’s inhabitants, Athena’s gift of the olive tree was deemed more valuable, and the city was named in her honor.
What is the significance of Athena’s owl?
The owl, specifically the Little Owl (Athene noctua), represents wisdom and knowledge. It’s often depicted with or as a symbol of Athena.
How is Athena depicted in art?
Athena is typically shown wearing armor, including a helmet and carrying a shield and a spear. She is often accompanied by her sacred owl.
Was Athena worshipped throughout Greece?
Yes, while Athena was especially revered in Athens, she was worshipped in various forms and under various epithets throughout ancient Greece.
How does Athena compare to Roman mythology?
In Roman mythology, Athena is identified with the goddess Minerva. While their domains of wisdom and warfare overlap, there are distinctions in their myths and worship practices.