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The goddess herself.
Preach to the choir
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Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith
I'd rather be a
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Suckled in a creed outworn

Athena (ancient Greek: Ἀθηνᾶ), often known with the epithet Pallas (in anckent Greek: Παλλάς), is a goddess (arguably one of the most famous ones if not the most) of Greek religion and mythology, later known by the Romans as Minerva, associated with wisdom, warfare, and handicraft[1] and with the city of AthensWikipedia (she's named after the city, not the opposite way[2]) where she got the famous ParthenonWikipedia dedicated to her. She's typically depicted wearing an aegis,Wikipedia in the company of a Little owlWikipedia (whose scientific name, Athene noctua,[3] precisely comes after such goddess) and/or snakes, and armed with a spear and a shield, having associated with the olive tree too.


Athena is considered to have been originated as the MycenaeanWikipedia goddess of the palace, being in charge of protecting both handicrafts and the king,[4][2][5][6] with some having suggested she could have been around from Minoan timesWikipedia even if as a rather different Sun goddess who was associated with snakes and fertility.[7] It's also possible that some elements of the Athena cult may have been influenced by Middle Eastern goddesses, with Athena sharing striking parallels with Inanna as a "terrifying warrior goddess."[8]:235 The story of Athena's violent birth from Zeus' head may be in part derived from the Sumerian of Inanna's Descent to the Underworld.[9]:20-21, 41.


See the main article on this topic: Mythology

Myths describe her as Zeus'Wikipedia favourite daughter, having been born from his head fully armed and armored giving him a very bad headache before his skull was splitted open with an axe,Wikipedia[10] after the former had eaten his pregnant wife Metis,Wikipedia due to prophecies that claimed the latter would give Zeus offspring wiser than him who would try to overthrow the King of the Gods,[11] even if other myths claim she was born by basically parthenogenesisWikipedia from Zeus himself,[12] thus having no mother. She is described as the protector of heroes such as HeraclesWikipedia[9] and Odysseus,Wikipedia[13] who favored cleverness over brute force, and being not just intelligent, cunning, very good at weaving, and the Greek equivalent of a bookworm, but also as an all-around badass, having curb-stomped AresWikipedia in the IlliadWikipedia and having been often depicted as brawny instead of sylph-like as so many other Greek goddesses. However, this would not be Greco-Roman mythology without even the goddess of wisdom, one of the most level-headed and arguably nicest to mortals Olympic deities, often behaving like a spoiled brat:

  • In one of the myths that explain the origin of Medusa,Wikipedia she was originally a priestess of Athena who got raped by Poseidon,Wikipedia the god of the sea, despite her vow of chastity. When the goddess found out what had happened in her temple, she transformed the unfortunate woman into the monster, seemingly without caring about the helpless situation the priestess had been in.[14][15] (It should be noted, however, that this is a later mythWikipedia by the Roman poet Ovid,Wikipedia said to have depicted the gods such way due to his beefWikipedia with the Emperor of these days, and in the original versions, Medusa was a monster since she had been born, without either Athena or Poseidon having to say something on such regard.)
  • In the myth of Arachne,Wikipedia Athena angered at a mortal being as good a weaver as her and at the latter's tapestry depicting Zeus and other gods' unjust and discrediting behavior towards mortals. The goddess transformed Arachne into a spider after the latter had hanged herself in despair.[16] (To be fair, in this myth, she warned Arachne not to mess with the gods under the guise of an old woman before revealing herself as a goddess, and transformed Arachne into such an animal (neither some sort of drider,Wikipedia nor an Ilwrath oversized, intelligent, and of course evil spider as in some modern retellings) out of pity. It's also noteworthy how this mythWikipedia is thought to have been created by Ovid too and for the above reasons, not existing previously in Greek mythology, or at least not that way.)
  • When TiresiasWikipedia caught Athena skyclad and was blinded by her.[17] Tiresias at least received in exchange the ability to foretell the future as the goddess could not restore her sight, which was different then Actaeon'sWikipedia fate at the hands of ArtemisWikipedia after the former had seen the latter also going skyclad having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the Judge of Paris,Wikipedia when as she and HeraWikipedia did not get the apple of Eris, to be considered the fairest, became enemies of Troy.[18]. Remember that Greek mythology hath no fury like that of a goddess, or even worse two goddesses, scorned.

Like the already mentioned Artemis and also Hestia,Wikipedia Athena also chose to stay virgin, perpetually having been said AphroditeWikipedia had no power over the three goddesses, some describing the three as asexual and presenting as proof the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, where it's stated the latter had no power over these three goddesses.[19][20][21][22]


A modern statuette of Athena reading this article (the goddess, not the statuette)

Athena got luckier than other Greco-Roman deities, being considered a patroness of arts and human endeavour, appearing in a lot of works of art from the Renaissance onwards in such a way as well as in her original roles of goddess of wisdom and warfare, and later on in a similar way in a lot of popular culture works where she's also typically depicted in a positive way. She's also present, of course, in Neopaganism where besides for example Wicca as an aspect of the Goddess,[23] she's held in high regard for quite obvious reasons in Hellenism and similar movements.[24]

External links[edit]


  1. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam-Webster. 1995. p. 81. ISBN 9780877790426. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-36281-9. 
  3. Little owl
  4. Nilsson, Martin Persson (1967). Die Geschichte der griechischen Religion. München, Germany: C. F. Beck. 
  5. Puhvel, Jaan (1987). Comparative Mythology. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-3938-2. 
  6. Kinsley, David (1989). The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West. Albany, New York: New York State University Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-836-2. 
  7. Minoan Origins of Athena
  8. Penglase, Charles (1994). Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. New York City, New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-15706-3. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Deacy, Susan (2008). Athena. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-30066-7. 
  10. Kerényi 1951.
  11. Hesiod, Theogony 885-900, 929e-929t
  12. Kerényi, Karl (1952). Die Jungfrau und Mutter der griechischen Religion. Eine Studie uber Pallas Athene. Zurich: Rhein Verlag. 
  13. Jenkyns, Richard (2016). Classical Literature: An Epic Journey from Homer to Virgil and Beyond. New York City, New York: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group. ISBN 978-0-465-09797-5. 
  14. Phinney, Edward Jr. (1971). Perseus' Battle with the Gorgons. 102. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 445–463. doiWikipedia:10.2307/2935950. 
  15. Seelig, Beth J. (August 2002). The Rape of Medusa in the Temple of Athena: Aspects of Triangulation in the Girl. 83. pp. 895–911. doiWikipedia:10.1516/3NLL-UG13-TP2J-927M. PMID 12204171. 
  16. Powell, Barry B. (2012). "Myths of Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena". Classical Myth (Seventh ed.). London, England: Pearson. pp. 211–235. ISBN 978-0-205-17607-6. 
  17. Hansen, William F. (2004). "Athena (also Athenê and Athenaia) (Roman Minerva)". Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 121–126. ISBN 978-0-19-530035-2. 
  18. Walcot, P. (April 1977). The Judgement of Paris. 24. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 31–39. doiWikipedia:10.1017/S0017383500019616. 
  19. Hansen, William F. (2004). "Athena (also Athenê and Athenaia) (Roman Minerva)". Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 121–126. ISBN 978-0-19-530035-2. 
  20. Goldhill, S. (1986). Reading Greek Tragedy (Aesch.Eum.737). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 
  21. Herrington, C.J. (1955). Athena Parthenos and Athena Polias. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press. 
  22. The Homeric hymns. Jules Cashford. London: Penguin Books. 2003. ISBN 0-14-043782-7. 
  23. Gallagher, Ann-Marie (2005). The Wicca Bible: The Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. New York City, New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.. ISBN 978-1-4027-3008-5. 
  24. Alexander, Timothy Jay (2007). The Gods of Reason: An Authentic Theology for Modern Hellenismos (First ed.). Lulu Press, Inc.. ISBN 978-1-4303-2763-9.