Athena
Overview
"Athene", "Athina" and "Pallas Athena" all redirect here. For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation)
Athena (disambiguation)
Athena is a goddess of wisdom, strategic-war and weaving in Greek mythology. It is also a feminine given name, after the goddess.Athena can also refer to:-Companies:* Athena , a Japanese video game company...

, Athene (disambiguation)
Athene (disambiguation)
Athene is the shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour in Greek mythology.Athene may also refer to:*881 Athene, a main belt asteroid*Athene , a genus that contains two to four living species of small owls...

, Athina (disambiguation)
Athina (disambiguation)
Athina is an alternate spelling for Athena, a goddess in Greek mythology."Athina" can also refer to:* Athina Livanos, daughter of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Livanos...

 and Pallas Athena (disambiguation)

In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Athena, Athenê, or Athene (icon or ə; Attic
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

: , Athēnā or , Athēnaia; Epic: , Athēnaiē; Ionic
Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

: , Athēnē; Doric
Doric Greek
Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

: , Athana), also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene (icon; Παλλὰς Ἀθηνᾶ; Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη), is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill.
Encyclopedia
"Athene", "Athina" and "Pallas Athena" all redirect here. For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation)
Athena (disambiguation)
Athena is a goddess of wisdom, strategic-war and weaving in Greek mythology. It is also a feminine given name, after the goddess.Athena can also refer to:-Companies:* Athena , a Japanese video game company...

, Athene (disambiguation)
Athene (disambiguation)
Athene is the shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour in Greek mythology.Athene may also refer to:*881 Athene, a main belt asteroid*Athene , a genus that contains two to four living species of small owls...

, Athina (disambiguation)
Athina (disambiguation)
Athina is an alternate spelling for Athena, a goddess in Greek mythology."Athina" can also refer to:* Athina Livanos, daughter of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Livanos...

 and Pallas Athena (disambiguation)

In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Athena, Athenê, or Athene (icon or ə; Attic
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

: , Athēnā or , Athēnaia; Epic: , Athēnaiē; Ionic
Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

: , Athēnē; Doric
Doric Greek
Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the...

: , Athana), also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene (icon; Παλλὰς Ἀθηνᾶ; Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη), is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva
Minerva
Minerva was the Roman goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic...

, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

 and is the goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patron of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. The Athenians built the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

 on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens (Athena Parthenos), in her honour.

Athena's veneration as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from the earliest times, and was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. In her role as a protector of the city (polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

), many people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias (Ἀθηνᾶ Πολιάς "Athena of the city"). Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Athena bear etymologically connected names.

Origin traditions

The Greek philosopher, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 (429–347 BC), identified her with the Libyan
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

 deity Neith
Neith
In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...

, the war goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient Pre-Dynastic period, who was also identified with weaving
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

. This is sensible, as some Greeks identified Athena's birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya's Triton River.Scholar Martin Bernal created the controversial "Black Athena Theory" to explain this associated origin by claiming that the conception of Neith
Neith
In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...

 was brought to Greece from Egypt, along with "an enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia."

Patroness

Athena as the goddess of philosophy became an aspect of the cult in Classical Greece during the late 5th century BC. She was the patroness of various crafts, especially of weaving
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

, as Athena Ergane. The metalwork of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles (Athena Promachos
Athena Promachos
The Athena Promachos was a colossal bronze statue of Athena sculpted by Pheidias, which stood between the Propylaea and the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and warriors and the protectress of Athens...

 or the warrior maiden Athena Parthenos) as the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, the patron of violence, bloodlust and slaughter—"the raw force of war". Athena's wisdom includes the cunning intelligence (metis) of such figures as Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

. Not only was this version of Athena the opposite of Ares in combat, it was also the polar opposite of the serene earth goddess version of the deity, Athena Polias.

Athena appears in Greek mythology as the patron and helper of many heroes, including Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

, and Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

. In Classical Greek myths, she never consorts with a lover, nor does she ever marry, earning the title Athena Parthenos. A remnant of archaic myth depicts her as the adoptive mother of Erechtheus
Erechtheus
Erechtheus in Greek mythology was the name of an archaic king of Athens, the re-founder of the polis and a double at Athens for Poseidon, as "Poseidon Erechtheus"...

/Erichthonius
Erichthonius of Athens
King Erichthonius was a mythological early ruler of ancient Athens, Greece. He was, according to some legends, autochthonous and raised by the goddess Athena. Early Greek texts do not distinguish between him and Erectheus, his grandson, but by the fourth century B.C...

 through the foiled rape by Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

. Other variants relate that Erichthonius, the serpent that accompanied Athena, was born to Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

: when the rape failed, the semen landed on Gaia and impregnated her. After Erechthonius was born, Gaia gave him to Athena.

Though Athena was a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without purpose and preferred to use wisdom to settle predicaments. The goddess only encouraged fighting for a reasonable cause or to resolve conflict. As patron of Athens she fought in the Trojan war on the side of the Achaeans.

Birth

The Olympian version

Although at Mycenaean Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

 Athena appears before Zeus does—in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

, as a-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja, "Mistress Athena"—in the Classical Olympian pantheon, Athena was remade as the favorite daughter of Zeus, born fully armed from his forehead. The story of her birth comes in several versions. In the one most commonly cited, Zeus lay with Metis, the goddess of crafty thought and wisdom, but he immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear children more powerful than the sire, even Zeus himself. In order to forestall these dire consequences, after lying with Metis, Zeus "put her away inside his own belly;" he "swallowed her down all of a sudden." He was too late: Metis had already conceived.

Eventually Zeus experienced an enormous headache; Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

, Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

,or Palaemon
Palaemon
Palaemon may refer to:In Greek mythology:*Palaemon, epithet of Heracles*Palaemon, son of Heracles by either Autonoe or Iphinoe*Palaemon, the name that Melicertes received upon deification...

(depending on the sources examined) cleaved Zeus's head with the double-headed Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

, the labrys
Labrys
Labrys is the term for a symmetrical doubleheaded axe originally from Crete in Greece, one of the oldest symbols of Greek civilization; to the Romans, it was known as a bipennis....

. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed, with a shout— "and pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war. And Ouranos trembled to hear, and Mother Gaia..." (Pindar
Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

, Seventh Olympian Ode). Plato, in the Laws
Laws (dialogue)
The Laws is Plato's last and longest dialogue. The question asked at the beginning is not "What is law?" as one would expect. That is the question of the Minos...

, attributes the cult of Athena to the culture of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, introduced, he thought, from Libya during the dawn of Greek culture.

Classical myths thereafter note that Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

 was so annoyed at Zeus producing a child that she conceived and bore Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 by herself
Parthenogenesis
Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction found in females, where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization by a male...

.

Plato, in Cratylus
Cratylus
Cratylus was an ancient Athenian philosopher from late 5th century BC, mostly known through his portrayal in Plato's dialogue Cratylus. Little is known of Cratylus or his mentor Heraclitus . According to Cratylus at 402a, Heraclitus proclaimed that one cannot step twice into the same stream...

 (407B) gave the etymology of her name as signifying "the mind of god", theou noesis. The Christian apologist of the 2nd century Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 takes issue with those pagans who erect at springs images of Kore
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

, whom he interprets as Athena:
"They said that Athena was the daughter of Zeus not from intercourse, but when the god had in mind the making of a world through a word (logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

) his first thought was Athena"


John Milton's Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

 interprets this myth as a model for the birth of Sin from the head of Satan.

Other origin tales

Fragments attributed by the Christian Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 to the semi-legendary Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n historian Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea...

, which Eusebius thought had been written before the Trojan war
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, make Athena instead the daughter of Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

, a king of Byblos
Byblos
Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

 who visited 'the inhabitable world' and bequeathed Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

 to Athena. Sanchuniathon's account would make Athena the sister of Zeus and Hera, not Zeus' daughter.

Pallas Athena

The major competing tradition regarding Athena's parentage involves some of her more mysterious epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

s: Pallas, as in the ancient-Greek (also Pallantias) and Tritogeneia (also Trito, Tritonis, Tritoneia, Tritogenes). A distant archaic separate entity named Pallas
Pallas (daughter of Triton)
In Greek mythology, Pallas was the daughter of Triton. Acting as a foster parent to Zeus’s daughter Athena, Triton raised her alongside his own daughter. During a friendly fight between the two goddesses, Athena was protected from harm by Zeus but mortally wounded Pallas. Out of sadness and...

 is invoked (literate Greeks cannot remember the gender) as Athena's father, sister, foster sister, companion, or opponent in battle. Pallas is often a nymph, a daughter of Triton
Triton (mythology)
Triton is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is...

 (a sea god), and a childhood friend of Athena. In every case, Athena kills Pallas, accidentally, and thereby gains the name for herself. In one telling, they practice the arts of war together until one day they have a falling out. As Pallas is about to strike Athena, Zeus intervenes. With Pallas stunned by a blow from Zeus, Athena takes advantage and kills her. Distraught over what she has done, Athena takes the name Pallas for herself.

When Pallas is Athena's father the events, including her birth, are located near a body of water named Triton or Tritonis
Lake Tritonis
Lake Tritonis was a large body of fresh water in northern Africa that was described in many ancient texts. Classical-era Greek writers placed the lake in what today is southern Tunisia. In details of the late myths and personal observations related by these historians, the lake was said to be named...

. When Pallas is Athena's sister or foster-sister, Athena's father or foster-father is Triton
Triton (mythology)
Triton is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is...

, the son and herald of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

. But Athena may be called the daughter of Poseidon and a nymph named Tritonis, without involving Pallas. Likewise, Pallas may be Athena's father or opponent, without involving Triton. On this topic, Walter Burkert says "she is the Pallas of Athens, Pallas Athenaie, just as Hera of Argos is Here Argeie. For the Athenians, Burkert notes, Athena was simply "the Goddess", he thea, certainly an ancient title.

Athena Parthenos: Virgin Athena

Athena never had a consort or lover and was thus known as Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos was the title of a massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself...

, "Virgin Athena". Her most famous temple, the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, on the Acropolis
Acropolis, Athens
Acropolis is a neighborhood of Athens, near the ancient monument of Acropolis, along the Dionysios Areopagitis, courier road. This neighborhood has a significant number of tourists all year round. It is the site of the Museum of Acropolis, opened in 2009....

 in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 takes its name from this title. It was not merely an observation of her virginity, but a recognition of her role as enforcer of rules of sexual modesty and ritual mystery. Even beyond recognition, the Athenians allotted the goddess value based on this pureness of virginity as it upheld a rudiment of female behavior in the patriarchal society. Kerenyi's study and theory of Athena accredits her virginal toponym to be a result of the relationship to her father Zeus and a vital, cohesive piece of her character throughout the ages. This role is expressed in a number of stories about Athena. Marinus
Marinus
Marinus may refer to:*Marinus , a crater on the Moon*Marinus , for people named Marinus*Marinus of Tyre , Greek geographer, cartographer and mathematician*Marinus of Caesarea , Roman soldier, christian martyr and saint...

reports that when Christians removed the statue of the Goddess from the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, a beautiful woman appeared in a dream to Proclus
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus , called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" , was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers . He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism...

, a devotee of Athena, and announced that the "Athenian Lady" wished to dwell with him.

Erichthonius

Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 attempted to rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 Athena, but she eluded him. His semen
Semen
Semen is an organic fluid, also known as seminal fluid, that may contain spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals and can fertilize female ova...

 fell to the earth and impregnated the soil, and Erichthonius
Erichthonius of Athens
King Erichthonius was a mythological early ruler of ancient Athens, Greece. He was, according to some legends, autochthonous and raised by the goddess Athena. Early Greek texts do not distinguish between him and Erectheus, his grandson, but by the fourth century B.C...

 was born from the Earth, Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

. Athena then raised the baby as a foster mother.

Athena puts the infant Erichthonius in a small box (cista) which she entrusts to the care of three sisters, Herse
Herse
Herse is a figure in Greek mythology, daughter of Cecrops, sister to Aglauros and Pandrosos.According to Apollodorus, when Hephaestus unsuccessfully attempted to rape Athena, she wiped his semen off her leg with wool and threw it on the ground, impregnating Gaia...

, Pandrosus
Pandrosus
Pandrosus was a figure in Greek mythology, and a daughter of Cecrops, sister to Herse and Aglauros....

, and Aglaulus
Aglaulus, daughter of Cecrops
Aglaulus or Agraulos was in Greek mythology the daughter of Cecrops and Aglaulus, daughter of Actaeus. She had two offspring by two different gods, Alcippe and Ceryx...

 of Athens. The goddess does not tell them what the box contains, but warns them not to open it until she returns. One or two sisters opens the cista to reveal Erichthonius, in the form (or embrace) of a serpent
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

. The serpent, or insanity induced by the sight, drives Herse and Aglaulus to throw themselves off the Acropolis
Acropolis, Athens
Acropolis is a neighborhood of Athens, near the ancient monument of Acropolis, along the Dionysios Areopagitis, courier road. This neighborhood has a significant number of tourists all year round. It is the site of the Museum of Acropolis, opened in 2009....

. Jane Harrison (Prolegomena) finds this to be a simple cautionary tale directed at young girls carrying the cista in the Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria
Thesmophoria was a festival held in Greek cities, in honor of the goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The name derives from thesmoi, or laws by which men must work the land. The Thesmophoria were the most widespread festivals and the main expression of the cult of Demeter, aside from the...

 rituals, to discourage them from opening it outside the proper context.
Another version of the myth of the Athenian maidens is told in Metamorphoses
Metamorphoses (poem)
Metamorphoses is a Latin narrative poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet Ovid describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature...

 by the Roman poet Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 (43 BC – 17 AD); in this late variant Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

 falls in love with Herse. Herse, Aglaulus, and Pandrosus go to the temple to offer sacrifices to Athena. Hermes demands help from Aglaulus to seduce Herse. Aglaulus demands money in exchange. Hermes gives her the money the sisters have already offered to Athena. As punishment for Aglaulus's greed, Athena asks the goddess Envy to make Aglaulus jealous of Herse. When Hermes arrives to seduce Herse, Aglaulus stands in his way instead of helping him as she had agreed. He turns her to stone.

With this mythic origin, Erichthonius became the founder-king of Athens
King of Athens
Before the Athenian democracy, the tyrants, and the Archons, the city-state of Athens was ruled by kings. Most of these are probably mythical or only semi-historical...

, and many beneficial changes to Athenian culture were ascribed to him. During this time, Athena frequently protected him.

Medusa and Tiresias

In a late myth, Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

, unlike her two sister Gorgons, came to be thought of by the Classical Greeks during the 5th century as an extremely beautiful mortal and a priestess in Athena's temple. Poseidon, in the temple of Athena and Hephasteus, raped Medusa because he refused to allow her vow of chastity to stand in his way. Upon discovering the desecration of her temple, Athena changed Medusa's form to match that of her sister Gorgons as punishment. Medusa's hair turned into snakes, her lower body was transformed also, and meeting her gaze would turn any living man to stone. In the earliest myths, there is only one Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

, but there are two snakes that form a belt around her waist.

In one version of the Tiresias
Tiresias
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus...

 myth, Tiresias stumbled upon Athena bathing, and he was struck blind by her to ensure he would never again see what man was not intended to see. But having lost his eyesight, he was given a special gift - to be able to understand the language of the birds (and thus to foretell the future).

Lady of Athens

Athena competed with Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 to be the patron deity of Athens, which was yet unnamed, in a version of one founding myth
Founding myth
A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such myths often serve as an important national symbol and affirm a set of national values. A national myth may sometimes take the form of a national epic...

. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and that the Athenians would choose the gift they preferred. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident
Trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

 and a spring sprang up; this gave them a means of trade and water —Athens at its height was a significant sea power, defeating the Persian
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 fleet at the Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens...

— but the water was salty and not very good for drinking. Athena, however, offered them the first domesticated olive tree
Olive Tree
The Olive Tree was a denomination used for several successive centre-left Italian political coalitions from 1995 to 2007.The historical leader and ideologue of these coalitions was Romano Prodi, Professor of Economics and former leftist Christian Democrat, who invented the name and the symbol of...

. The Athenians (or their king, Cecrops
Cecrops I
Cecrops was a mythical king of Athens who is said to have reigned for fifty-six years. The name is not of Greek origin according to Strabo, or it might mean 'face with a tail': it is said that, born from the earth itself, he had his top half shaped like a man and the bottom half in serpent or...

) accepted the olive tree and with it the patronage of Athena, for the olive tree brought wood, oil, and food. Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

 was of the opinion that "Poseidon's attempts to take possession of certain cities are political myths" which reflect the conflict between matriarchal and patriarchal religions.

Other sites of cult

Athena also was the patron goddess of several other Greek cities, notably Sparta, where the archaic cult of Athena Alea
Athena Alea
Alea was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which she was worshiped at Alea, Mantineia and Tegea...

 had its sanctuaries in the surrounding villages of Alea
Alea, Greece
Alea is a village and a former community in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. Its 2001 population was 146 for the village and 793 for the community...

, Mantineia
Mantineia
Mantineia was a city in ancient Greece that was the site of two significant battles in Classical Greek history. It is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat...

 and, notably, Tegea
Tegea
Tegea was a settlement in ancient Greece, and it is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat was the village Stadio....

. Tegea was an important religious center of ancient Greece, containing the Temple of Athena Alea
Athena Alea
Alea was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which she was worshiped at Alea, Mantineia and Tegea...

. The temenos was founded by Aleus
Aleus
Aleus was in Greek mythology a son of Apheidas, and grandson of Arcas. He was king of Tegea in Arcadia, and married to Neaera or Cleobule, and is said to have founded the town of Alea and the first temple of Athena Alea at Tegea. He had a son, Lycurgus, and two daughters, Auge and Alcidice. He...

, Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 was informed. Votive bronzes at the site from the Geometric and Archaic periods take the forms of horses and deer; there are sealstone and fibulae. In the Archaic period the nine villages that underlie Tegea banded together in a synoecism
Synoecism
Synoecism or synecism , also spelled synoikism , was originally the amalgamation of villages in Ancient Hellas into poleis, or city-states. Etymologically the word means "dwelling together in the same house ." Subsequently any act of civic union between polities of any size was described by the...

 to form one city. Tegea was listed in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Catalogue of Ships
Catalogue of Ships
The Catalogue of Ships is a passage in Book 2 of Homer's Iliad , which lists the contingents of the Achaean army that sailed to Troy...

 as one of the cities that contributed ships and men for the Achaean assault on Troy.

Counselor

Later myths of the Classical Greeks relate that Athena guided Perseus in his quest to behead Medusa. She instructed Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 to skin the Nemean Lion
Nemean Lion
The Nemean lion was a vicious monster in Greek mythology that lived at Nemea. It was eventually killed by Heracles. It could not be killed with mortal weapons because its golden fur was impervious to attack...

 by using its own claws to cut through its thick hide. She also helped Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds
Stymphalian birds
In Greek mythology, the Stymphalian birds were man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims, and were sacred to Ares, the god of war. Furthermore, their dung was highly toxic...

, and to navigate the underworld so as to capture Cerberus
Cerberus
Cerberus , or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping...

.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

' cunning and shrewd nature quickly won Athena's favour. In the realistic epic mode, however, she largely is confined to aiding him only from afar, as by implanting thoughts in his head during his journey home from Troy. Her guiding actions reinforce her role as the "protectress of heroes" or as mythologian Walter Friedrich Otto
Walter Friedrich Otto
Walter Friedrich Gustav Hermann Otto was a German classical philologist particularly known for his work on the meaning and legacy of Greek religion and mythology, especially as represented in his seminal 1929 work The Gods of Greece.-Life:Walter F...

 dubbed her the "goddess of nearness" due to her mentoring and motherly probing. It is not until he washes up on the shore of an island where Nausicaa
Nausicaa
Nausicaa is a character in Homer's Odyssey . She is the daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of Phaeacia. Her name, in Greek, means "burner of ships".-Role in the Odyssey:...

 is washing her clothes that Athena arrives personally to provide more tangible assistance. She appears in Nausicaa's dreams to ensure that the princess rescues Odysseus and plays a role in his eventual escort to Ithaca.

Athena appears in disguise to Odysseus upon his arrival, initially lying and telling him that Penelope, his wife, has remarried and that he is believed to be dead; but Odysseus lies back to her, employing skillful prevarications to protect himself. Impressed by his resolve and shrewdness, she reveals herself and tells him what he needs to know in order to win back his kingdom. She disguises him as an elderly man or beggar so that he cannot be noticed by the suitors or Penelope, and helps him to defeat the suitors. She also plays a role in ending the resultant feud against the suitors' relatives, although she seems strange to readers. She instructs Laertes to throw his spear and to kill the father of Antinous, Eupeithes. But she must have forgotten her task of bringing peace to Ithaca and wiping the thought of slaughter from the suitors' families, because she suddenly told them to stop fighting.

The Judgment of Paris

All the gods and goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of Peleus
Peleus
In Greek mythology, Pēleus was a hero whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BCE. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endeïs, the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles...

 and Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

 (the eventual parents of Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

). Only Eris
Eris (mythology)
Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona...

, goddess of discord
Discordianism
Discordianism is a religion based on the worship of Eris , the Greco-Roman goddess of strife. It was founded circa 1958–1959 after the publication of its holy book the Principia Discordia, written by Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst after a series of shared hallucinations at a...

, was not invited. She was annoyed at this, so she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the word καλλίστῃ (kallistēi, "for the fairest one"), which she threw among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claimed to be the fairest, and thus the rightful owner of the apple.

The goddesses chose to place the matter before Zeus, who, not wanting to favor one of the goddesses, put the choice into the hands of Paris, a Trojan
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 prince. After bathing in the spring of Mount Ida
Mount Ida
In Greek mythology, two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida, the "Mountain of the Goddess": Mount Ida in Crete; and Mount Ida in the ancient Troad region of western Anatolia which was also known as the Phrygian Ida in classical antiquity and is the mountain that is mentioned in the Iliad of...

 (where Troy was situated), the goddesses appeared to Paris naked, but Paris couldn't decide, so they resorted to bribes. Hera tried to bribe Paris with control over all Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, while Athena offered wisdom, fame and glory in battle, but Aphrodite came forth and whispered to Paris that if he were to choose her as the fairest he would have the most beautiful mortal woman in the world as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. This woman was Helen, who was, unfortunately for Paris, already married to King Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

 of Sparta. The other two goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they brought about the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

.

This is one of the few, if any, myths where Athena didn't act out of her better judgment, for obvious reasons.

Roman fable of Arachne

The fable
Fable
A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized , and that illustrates a moral lesson , which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.A fable differs from...

 of Arachne
Arachne
In Greco-Roman mythology, Arachne was a great mortal weaver who boasted that her skill was greater than that of Minerva, the Latin parallel of Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts. Arachne refused to acknowledge that her knowledge came, in part at least, from the goddess. The offended...

 is a late Roman addition to Classical Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 but does not appear in the myth repertoire of the Attic vase-painters. Arachne's name simply means spider (αράχνη). Arachne was the daughter of a famous dyer in Tyrian purple
Tyrian purple
Tyrian purple , also known as royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a purple-red natural dye, which is extracted from sea snails, and which was possibly first produced by the ancient Phoenicians...

 in Hypaipa of Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

, and a weaving student of Athena. She became so conceited of her skill as a weaver that she began claiming that her skill was greater than that of Athena herself.

Athena gave Arachne a chance to redeem herself by assuming the form of an old woman and warning Arachne not to offend the deities. Arachne scoffed and wished for a weaving contest, so she could prove her skill.

Athena wove the scene of her victory over Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 that had inspired her patronage of Athens. According to Ovid's Latin narrative, Arachne's tapestry featured twenty-one episodes of the infidelity of the deities, including Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 being unfaithful with Leda
Leda (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Leda was daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of the king Tyndareus , of Sparta. Her myth gave rise to the popular motif in Renaissance and later art of Leda and the Swan...

, with Europa, and with Danaë
Danaë
In Greek mythology, Danaë was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice of Argos. She was the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium....

. Athena admitted that Arachne's work was flawless, but was outraged at Arachne's offensive choice of subjects that displayed the failings and transgressions of the deities. Finally, losing her temper, Athena destroyed Arachne's tapestry and loom, striking it with her shuttle. Athena then struck Arachne with her staff, which changed her into a spider. In some versions, the destruction of her loom leads Arachne to hang herself in despair; Athena takes pity on her, and transforms her into a spider.

The fable suggests that the origin of weaving lay in imitation of spiders and that it was considered to have been perfected first in Asia Minor
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

.

Cult and attributes

Athena's epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

s include , Atrytone (= the unwearying), , Parthénos (= virgin), and , Promachos (the First Fighter, i. e. she who fights in front).

In poetry from Homer, an oral tradition of the eighth or 7th century BC, onward, Athena's most common epithet
Epithets in Homer
A characteristic of Homer's style is the use of epithets, as in "rosy-fingered" dawn or "swift-footed" Achilles. Epithets are used because of the constraints of the dactylic hexameter and because of the oral transmission of the poems; they are mnemonic aids to the poet and the audience...

 is glaukopis (γλαυκώπις), which usually is translated as, bright-eyed or with gleaming eyes. The word is a combination of glaukos (γλαύκος, meaning gleaming, silvery, and later, bluish-green or gray) and ops (ώψ, eye, or sometimes, face). It is interesting to note that glaux (γλαύξ, "owl") is from the same root, presumably because of the bird's own distinctive eyes. The bird which sees well in the night is closely associated with the goddess of wisdom
Wisdom
Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

: in archaic images, Athena is frequently depicted with an owl perched on her head. This pairing evolved in tangent so that even in present day the owl is upheld as a symbol of perspicacity and erudition. Unsurprisingly, the owl became a sort of Athenian mascot. The olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

 tree is likewise sacred to her. In earlier times, Athena may well have been a bird goddess
Bird goddess
thumb|The [[Burney Relief]], ca. 1950 BC.The term Bird goddess was coined by Marija Gimbutas with relation to Neolithic Europe. The Vinca culture, in particular, had a bird goddess...

, similar to the unknown goddess depicted with owls, wings, and bird talons on the Burney relief
Burney Relief
The Burney Relief is a Mesopotamian terracotta plaque in high relief of the Isin-Larsa- or Old-Babylonian period, depicting a winged, nude, goddess-like figure with bird's talons, flanked by owls, and perched upon supine lions. The relief is displayed in the British Museum in London, which has...

, a Mesopotamian terracotta relief of the early second millennium BC.

Other epithets include: Aethyta under which she was worshiped in Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

. The word aithyia signifies a diver, and figuratively, a ship, so the name must reference Athena teaching the art of shipbuilding or navigation. In a temple at Phrixa in Elis
Elis
Elis, or Eleia is an ancient district that corresponds with the modern Elis peripheral unit...

, which was reportedly built by Clymenus, she was known as Cydonia.

The various Athena subgroups, or cults, all branching from the central goddess herself often proctored various initiation rites of Grecian youth, for example, the passage into citizenship by young men and for women the elevation to the status of citizen wife. Her various cults were portals of a uniform socialization, even beyond mainland Greece.

Epithets

In the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 (4.514), the Homeric Hymns
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

, and in Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, Athena is given the curious epithet Tritogeneia. The meaning of this term is unclear. It seems to mean "Triton
Triton (mythology)
Triton is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is...

-born", perhaps indicating that the sea-deity was her parent according to some early myths, In Ovid's Metamorphoses Athena is occasionally referred to as "Tritonia."

Another possible meaning may be triple-born or third-born, which may refer to a triad or to her status as the third daughter of Zeus or the fact she was born from Metis, Zeus, and herself; various legends list her as being the first child after Artemis and Apollo, though other legends identify her as Zeus' first child. The latter would have to be drawn from Classical myths, however, rather than earlier ones.

In her role as judge at Orestes'
Orestes (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Orestes was the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. He is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays and of various myths connected with his madness and purification, which retain obscure threads of much older ones....

 trial on the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra or Clytaemnestra , in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess...

 (which he won), Athena won the epithet Athena Areia.
Other epithets were Ageleia
Ageleia
Ageleia or Ageleis was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, of somewhat obscure definition, mostly playing off the meaning of the Greek words ago , the verb for "leading" or "doing", and leia , a noun meaning "plunder" or "spoils", particularly herds of cattle.To some writers, it is the name by...

 and Itonia
Itonia
Itonia, Itonias or Itonis was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena worshiped widely in Thessaly and elsewhere...

.

Athena was given many other cult titles. She had the epithet Athena Ergane as the patron of craftsmen and artisans. With the epithet Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos was the title of a massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself...

 ("virgin") she was especially worshipped in the festivals of the Panathenaea and Pamboeotia
Pamboeotia
Pamboeotia was a major festive panegyris of all the Boeotians, celebrated probably annually, which the grammarians compare with the Panathenaea of the Atticans, and the Panionia of the Ionians. Though probably quite older than this, even primitive, the festival is celebrated with the name...

 where both militaristic and athletic displays took place. With the epithet Athena Promachos she led in battle. With the epithet Athena Polias ("of the city"), Athena was the protector of not only Athens but also of many other cities, including Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

, Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, Gortyn
Gortyn
Gortyn, Gortys or Gortyna is a municipality and an archaeological site on the Mediterranean island of Crete, 45 km away from the modern capital Heraklion. The seat of the municipality is the village Agioi Deka...

, Lindos
Lindos
Lindos is an archaeological site, a town and a former municipality on the island of Rhodes, in the Dodecanese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Rhodes, of which it is a municipal unit. It lies on the east coast of the island...

, and Larisa.

She was given the epithet Athena Hippeia
Hippeia
-Athena Hippeia :Athena Hippeia is Athena as a goddess of horses. In this form, she was said to be the daughter of Poseidon and Polyphe, daughter of Oceanus. She was given her name because she was the first to use a chariot....

 or Athena Hippia, horse as the inventor of the chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

, and was worshipped under this title at Athens, Tegea
Tegea
Tegea was a settlement in ancient Greece, and it is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat was the village Stadio....

 and Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

. As Athena Hippeia she was given an alternative parentage: Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 and Polyphe, daughter of Oceanus
Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

. In each of these cities her temple frequently was the major temple on the acropolis.

Athena often was equated with Aphaea
Aphaea
Aphaea was a Greek goddess who was worshipped almost exclusively at a single sanctuary on the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. She originated as early as the 14th century BCE as a local deity associated with fertility and the agricultural cycle...

, a local goddess of the island of Aegina
Aegina
Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, from Athens. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. During ancient times, Aegina was a rival to Athens, the great sea power of the era.-Municipality:The municipality...

, located near Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, once Aegina was under Athenian's power. The Greek historian Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 (46 AD–120 AD) also refers to an instance during the Parthenon's construction of her being called Athena Hygieia
Hygieia
In Greek and Roman mythology, Hygieia , was a daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius. She was the goddess/personification of health , cleanliness and sanitation. She also played an important part in her father's cult...

 ("healer"):
In classical times the Plynteria
Plynteria
Plynteria was a festival of ancient Greece celebrated at Athens every year, on the 22nd of Thargelion, in honor of Athena Polias, with the heroine Aglauros , whose temple stood on the Acropolis...

, or “Feast of Adorning”, was observed every May, it was a festival lasting five days. During this period the Priestesses of Athena, or “Plyntrides”, performed a cleansing ritual within “the Erecththeum”, the personal sanctuary of the goddess. Here Athena's statue was undressed, her clothes washed, and body purified.

In Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

, she was assimilated with the ancient goddess Alea and worshiped as Athena Alea
Athena Alea
Alea was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which she was worshiped at Alea, Mantineia and Tegea...

.

In Classical art



Classically, Athena is portrayed wearing a full- length chiton
Chiton (costume)
A chiton was a form of clothing worn by men and women in Ancient Greece, from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period ....

, and sometimes in armor, with her helmet raised high on the forehead to reveal the image of Nike
Nike (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nike was a goddess who personified victory, also known as the Winged Goddess of Victory. The Roman equivalent was Victoria. Depending upon the time of various myths, she was described as the daughter of Pallas and Styx and the sister of Kratos , Bia , and Zelus...

. Her shield bears at its centre the aegis with the head of the gorgon (gorgoneion) in the center and snakes around the edge. It is in this standing posture that she was depicted in Phidias
Phidias
Phidias or the great Pheidias , was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece: Phidias' Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World...

's famous lost gold and ivory
Chryselephantine
Chryselephantine is a term that refers to the sculptural medium of gold and ivory...

 statue of her, 36 m tall, the Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos was the title of a massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself...

 in the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

. Athena also often is depicted with an owl
Owl
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...

 sitting on one of her shoulders. The Mourning Athena
Mourning Athena
Mourning Athena is a Greek relief sculpture dating circa c. 450 BC. It is one of the first Greek statues to portray human emotion as a significant part of the subject. In this relief, the goddess Athena seems tired and mournful...

 is a relief sculpture that dates around 460 BC and portrays a weary Athena resting on a staff.
In earlier, archaic portraits of Athena in Black-figure pottery
Black-figure pottery
Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic is one of the most modern styles for adorning antique Greek vases. It was especially common between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, although there are specimens dating as late as the 2nd century BC...

, the goddess retains some of her Minoan-Mycenaean character, such as great bird wings although this is not true of archaic sculpture such as those of Aphaean Athena, where Athena has subsumed an earlier, invisibly numinous —Aphaea
Aphaea
Aphaea was a Greek goddess who was worshipped almost exclusively at a single sanctuary on the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. She originated as early as the 14th century BCE as a local deity associated with fertility and the agricultural cycle...

— goddess with Cretan connections in her mythos.

Other commonly received and repeated types of Athena in sculpture may be found in this list.

Apart from her attributes, there seems to be a relative consensus in late sculpture from the Classical period, the 5th century onward, as to what Athena looked like. Most noticeable in the face is perhaps the full round strong, masculine chin with a high nose that has a high bridge as a natural extension of the forehead. The eyes typically are somewhat deeply set. The unsmiling lips are usually full, but the mouth is depicted fairly narrow, usually just slightly wider than the nose. The neck is somewhat long. The net result is a serene, serious, somewhat aloof, and very masculine beauty.

Name, etymology, and origin

Athena had a special relationship with Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, as is shown by the etymological connection of the names of the goddess and the city. The citizens of Athens built a statue of Athena as a temple to the goddess, which had piercing eyes, a helmet on her head, attired with an aegis
Aegis
An aegis is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small...

 or cuirass
Cuirass
A cuirass is a piece of armour, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso...

, and an extremely long spear. It also had a crystal shield with the head of the Gorgon on it. A large snake accompanied her and she held the goddess of victory in her hand.

Athena is associated with Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, a plural name because it was the place where she presided over her sisterhood, the Athenai, in earliest times: Mycenae
Mycenae
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

 was the city where the Goddess was called Mykene, and Mycenae is named in the plural for the sisterhood of females who tended her there. At Thebes she was called Thebe, and the city again a plural, Thebae (or Thebes, where the "s" is the plural formation). Similarly, at Athens she was called Athena, and the city Athenae (or Athens, again a plural)." Whether her name is attested in Eteocretan or not will have to wait for decipherment of Linear A
Linear A
Linear A is one of two scripts used in ancient Crete before Mycenaean Greek Linear B; Cretan hieroglyphs is the second script. In Minoan times, before the Mycenaean Greek dominion, Linear A was the official script for the palaces and religious activities, and hieroglyphs were mainly used on seals....

.

Günther Neumann has suggested that Athena's name is possibly of Lydian
Lydian language
Lydian was an Indo-European language spoken in the region of Lydia in western Anatolia . It belongs to the Anatolian group of the Indo-European language family....

 origin; it may be a compound word derived in part from Tyrrhenian "ati", meaning mother and the name of the Hurrian goddess "Hannahannah
Hannahannah
Hannahannah is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian Goddess Inanna, although the similarity in name to the Biblical Hannah, mother of Samuel ; the Canaanite Anath, and the Christian St Anne are coincidental, the name Hannah in Hebrew having a different etymology...

" shortened in various places to "Ana" . In Mycenaean Greek, at Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

 a single inscription A-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja /Athana potniya/ appears in the Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 tablets from the Late Minoan II-era "Room of the Chariot Tablets"; these comprise the earliest Linear B archive anywhere. Although Athana potniya often is translated Mistress Athena, it literally means "the potnia of At(h)ana", which perhaps, means the Lady of Athens; Any connection to the city of Athens in the Knossos inscription is uncertain. We also find A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja /Athana diwya/, the final part being the Linear B spelling of what we know from Ancient Greek as Diwia (Mycenaean di-u-ja or di-wi-ja): divine Athena also was a weaver and the deity of crafts (see dyeus
Dyeus
*Dyēus is the reconstructed chief deity of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. He was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society....

).

In his dialogue Cratylus
Cratylus (dialogue)
Cratylus is the name of a dialogue by Plato. Most modern scholars agree that it was written mostly during Plato's so-called middle period...

, the Greek philosopher Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC, gives the etymology of Athena's name, based on the view of the ancient Athenians:
Thus for Plato her name was to be derived from Greek Ἀθεονόα, Atheonóa —which the later Greeks rationalised as from the deity's (theos) mind (nous).

The Greek historian, Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 (c. 484–425 BC), noted that the Egyptian citizens of Sais
SAIS
SAIS can refer to:* Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, part of The Johns Hopkins University.* Sharjah American International School* Southern Association of Independent Schools...

 in Egypt worshipped a goddess whose Egyptian name was Neith
Neith
In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...

; and they identified her with Athena. (Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

 21e), (Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

 2:170–175).

Some authors believe that, in early times, Athena was either an owl
Owl
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...

 herself or a bird goddess
Bird goddess
thumb|The [[Burney Relief]], ca. 1950 BC.The term Bird goddess was coined by Marija Gimbutas with relation to Neolithic Europe. The Vinca culture, in particular, had a bird goddess...

 in general: in Book 3 of the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, she takes the form of a sea-eagle
Sea eagle (bird)
A sea eagle is any of the birds of prey in the genus Haliaeetus in the bird of prey family Accipitridae....

. These authors argue that she dropped her prophylactic owl-mask before she lost her wings. "Athena, by the time she appears in art," Jane Ellen Harrison had remarked, "has completely shed her animal form, has reduced the shapes she once wore of snake and bird to attributes, but occasionally in black-figure vase-paintings she still appears with wings."

Some Greek authors have derived natural symbols from the etymological roots of Athena's names to be aether, air, earth, and moon. This was one of the primary developments of scholarly exploration in the ancient world.

Post-classical culture

A brief summary of Athena's evolution of myriad motifs after her dominance in Greece may be seen as follows: The rise of Christianity in Greece largely ended the worship of Greek deities and polytheism in general, but she resurfaced in the Middle Ages as a defender of sagacity and virtue so that her masculine warrior status was still intact. (She may be found on some family crests of nobility.) During the Renaissance she donned the mantle of patron of the arts and human endeavor and finally although not ultimately, Athena personified the miracles of freedom and republic during the French Revolution. (A statue of the goddess was centered on the Place de la Revolution in Paris.)

For over a century a full-scale replica of the Parthenon
Parthenon (Nashville)
The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.-Early history:...

 has stood in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, which is known as the Athens of the South. In 1990, a gilded 41 feet (12.5 m) tall replica of Phidias' statue
Athena Parthenos
Athena Parthenos was the title of a massive chryselephantine sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens. Its epithet was an essential character of the goddess herself...

 of Athena Parthenos was added. The state seal of California
Seal of California
The Great Seal of the State of California was adopted at the California state Constitutional Convention of 1849 and has undergone minor design changes since then, the last being the standardization of the seal in 1937...

 features an image of Athena (or Minerva) kneeling next to a brown grizzly bear.

Athena is a natural patron of universities: she is the symbol of the Darmstadt University of Technology
Darmstadt University of Technology
The Technische Universität Darmstadt, abbreviated TU Darmstadt, is a university in the city of Darmstadt, Germany...

, in Germany, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest federal universities of Brazil, where public universities comprise the majority of the best and most qualified institutions...

, in Brazil. Her image can be found in the shields of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters and the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
National Autonomous University of Mexico
The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México is a university in Mexico. UNAM was founded on 22 September 1910 by Justo Sierra as a liberal alternative to the Roman Catholic-sponsored Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous...

, where her owl is the symbol of the Faculty of Chemistry. At Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College is a women's liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawr, a community in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Philadelphia. The name "Bryn Mawr" means "big hill" in Welsh....

 in Pennsylvania a statue of Athena (a replica of the original bronze one in the arts and archaeology library) resides in the Great Hall. It is traditional at exam time for students to leave offerings to the goddess with a note asking for good luck, or to repent for accidentally breaking any of the college's numerous other traditions. Athena's owl also serves as the mascot of the college, and one of the college hymns is "Pallas Athena". Pallas Athena is the tutelary goddess of the international social fraternity Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta , also known as Phi Delt, is an international fraternity founded at Miami University in 1848 and headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Chi form the Miami Triad. The fraternity has about 169 active chapters and colonies in over 43 U.S...

. Her owl is also a symbol of the fraternity.

The title character in Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

's "The Raven
The Raven
"The Raven" is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in January 1845. It is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow descent into madness...

" famously sits upon "a Bust of Pallas".

She is the symbol of the United States Women's Navy and was depicted on their Unit Crest. A medal awarded to women who served in the Women Army Auxiliary Corps from 10 July 1942 to 31 August 1943, and to the Women Army Corps from 1 September 1943 to 2 September 1945 featured Athena on the front.

Athena's Helmet is the central feature on the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 crest.

Athena is reported as a source of influence for feminist theologians such as Carol P. Christ
Carol P. Christ
Carol Patrice Christ is a teacher and author and holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.-Biography:She is the author of the widely reprinted essay "Why Women Need the Goddess,", which argues in favor of the concept of there having been an ancient religion of a supreme Goddess. Christ has written five...

.

Jean Boucher
Jean Boucher (artist)
Jean Boucher was a French sculptor based in Brittany. He is best known for his public memorial sculptures which communicated his liberal politics and patriotic dedication to France and Brittany.-Early years:Boucher was born in Cesson-Sévigné near Rennes, Brittany...

's statue of the seated skeptical thinker Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan was a French expert of Middle East ancient languages and civilizations, philosopher and writer, devoted to his native province of Brittany...

, shown to the left, caused great controversy when it was installed in Tréguier, Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 in 1902. Renan's 1862 biography of Jesus had denied his divinity, and he had written the "Prayer on the Acropolis" addressed to the goddess Athena. The statue was placed in the square fronted by the cathedral. Renan's head was turned away from the building, while Athena, beside him, was depicted raising her arm, which was interpreted as indicating a challenge to the church during an anti-clerical phase in French official culture. The installation was accompanied by a mass protest from local Roman Catholics and a religious service against the growth of skepticism
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 and secularism
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

.

Athena has been used numerous times as a symbol of a republic by different countries and appears on currency as she did on the ancient drachma of Athens.
Athena (Minerva) is the subject of the $50 1915-S Panama-Pacific commemorative coin
Commemorative coin
Commemorative coins are coins that were issued to commemorate some particular event or issue. Most world commemorative coins were issued from the 1960s onward, although there are numerous examples of commemorative coins of earlier date. Such coins have a distinct design with reference to the...

. At 2.5 troy oz (78 g) gold, this is the largest (by weight
Weight
In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force on the object due to gravity. Its magnitude , often denoted by an italic letter W, is the product of the mass m of the object and the magnitude of the local gravitational acceleration g; thus:...

) coin ever produced by the U.S. Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

. This was the first $50 coin issued by the U.S. Mint and no higher was produced until the production of the $100 platinum coins in 1997. Of course, in terms of face-value in adjusted dollars, the 1915 is the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. Mint.

Athena was depicted on the obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 of the Greek 100 drachmas
Greek drachma
Drachma, pl. drachmas or drachmae was the currency used in Greece during several periods in its history:...

 banknote of 1978-2001. Another recent example is the 60 Years of the Second Republic commemorative coin issued by Austria in 2005. Athena is depicted in the obverse of the coin, representing the Austrian Republic.

She appears briefly in Disney's Hercules
Hercules (1997 film)
Hercules is a 1997 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker...

, but has a more dominant role in the television series.

Athena
Athena (Marvel Comics)
Athena is a fictional deity in the Marvel Comics Universe based on the Greek Goddess of the same name. Athena first appeared in the pages of Thor #164, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby.-Publication history:...

 is an active character in Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

' main continuity, the Marvel Universe
Marvel Universe
The Marvel Universe is the shared fictional universe where most comic book titles and other media published by Marvel Entertainment take place, including those featuring Marvel's most familiar characters, such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, and the Avengers.The Marvel Universe is further...

, most recently in the Incredible Hercules series. She acts as a guide to Hercules
Hercules (Marvel Comics)
Hercules is a fictional character that appears in publications by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in Journey into Mystery Annual #1 and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby....

 and his sidekick, boy genius Amadeus Cho
Amadeus Cho
Amadeus Cho, also known as Mastermind Excello, is a fictional comic book character appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa, the character first appeared in Amazing Fantasy vol. 2 #15...

.

Athena appears in Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan
Richard Russell "Rick" Riordan, Jr. is an American author best known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. He also wrote the Tres Navarre mystery series for adults and helped to edit Demigods and Monsters, a collection of essays on the topic of his Percy Jackson series...

's Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a pentalogy of adventure and fantasy fiction books authored by Rick Riordan. The series consists of five books, as well as spin-off titles such as The Demigod Files and Demigods and Monsters. Set in the United States, the books are predominantly based on Greek...

 book series. Her daughter, born from her head as she was from Zeus's, demigod
Demigod
The term "demigod" , meaning "half-god", is commonly used to describe mythological figures whose one parent was a god and whose other parent was human; as such, demigods are human-god hybrids...

 Annabeth Chase is one of the principal characters. Annabeth's father found her (Annabeth) lying in a golden cradle at the doorstep.

The Roman name for Athena is Minerva. In the video game Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Minerva appears in an ancient vault underneath the Colosseum at the end of the game. She explains the origin of mankind within the story to the game's main protagonist, Desmond Miles.

Minerva is also the first name of Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter's Head of House, and a very wise witch of Hogwarts, always concerned with the safety of her students. She dreaded the fight at the end, but faced the army of Voldemort valiantly.

Athena appears in the TV series Stargate SG1 when she kidnaps Vala Mal Doran
Vala Mal Doran
Vala Mal Doran is a fictional character in the American military science fiction television series Stargate SG-1, a science fiction show about a military team exploring the galaxy via a network of alien transportation devices. Played by former Farscape actress Claudia Black, Vala was created by...

 to gain information on the Clava Thessara Infinitas (The Key to Infinite Treasure).

Masculinity and feminism

Athena had an "androgynous compromise" that allowed her traits and what she stood for to be attributed to male and female rulers alike over the course of history (such as Marie de Medici, Anne of Austria, Christina of Sweden, and Catherine the Great).

J.J. Bachofen advocated that Athena was originally a maternal figure stable in her security and poise but was caught up and perverted by a patriarchal society; this was especially the case in Athens. The goddess adapted but could very easily be seen as a god. He viewed it as "motherless paternity in the place of fatherless maternity" where once altered, Athena's character was to be crystallized as that of a patriarch.

Whereas Bachofen saw the switch to paternity on Athena's behalf as an increase of power, Freud on the contrary perceived Athena as an "original mother goddess divested of her power". In this interpretation, Athena was demoted to be only Zeus's daughter, never allowed the expression of motherhood. Still more different from Bachofen's perspective is the lack of role permanency in Freud's view: Freud held that time and differing cultures would mold Athena to stand for what was necessary to them.

Ancient sources

  • Apollodorus, Library, 3,180
  • Augustine, De civitate dei xviii.8–9
  • Cicero, De natura deorum iii.21.53, 23.59
  • Eusebius, Chronicon 30.21–26, 42.11–14
  • Lactantius, Divinae institutions i.17.12–13, 18.22–23
  • Livy, Ab urbe condita libri vii.3.7
  • Lucan, Bellum civile ix.350

Modern sources

  • Burkert, Walter
    Walter Burkert
    Walter Burkert is a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.An emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he also has taught in the United Kingdom and the United States...

    , 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard).
  • Graves, Robert
    Robert Graves
    Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

    , (1955) 1960. The Greek Myths revised edition.
  • Kerenyi, Karl
    Karl Kerényi
    Károly Kerényi was a Hungarian scholar in classical philology, one of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology.- Hungary 1897–1943 :...

    , 1951. The Gods of the Greeks (Thames and Hudson).
  • Harrison, Jane Ellen
    Jane Ellen Harrison
    Jane Ellen Harrison was a British classical scholar, linguist and feminist. Harrison is one of the founders, with Karl Kerenyi and Walter Burkert, of modern studies in Greek mythology. She applied 19th century archaeological discoveries to the interpretation of Greek religion in ways that have...

    , 1903. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion.
  • Palaima, Thomas, 2004. "Appendix One: Linear B Sources." In Trzaskoma, Stephen, et al., eds., Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation (Hackett).
  • Ruck, Carl A.P. and Danny Staples, 1994. The World of Classical Myth: Gods and Goddesses, Heroines and Heroes (Durham, NC).
  • Telenius, Seppo Sakari
    Seppo Telenius
    Seppo Sakari Telenius is a Finnish writer and historian who lives in Harjavalta. He studied political history and social history at the University of Helsinki . His varied body of works includes novels, short stories, poems, local history books as well as essays...

    , (2005) 2006. Athena-Artemis (Helsinki: Kirja kerrallaan).
  • Trahman, C.R., 1952. "Odysseus' Lies ('Odyssey', Books 13-19)" in Phoenix, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Classical Association of Canada), pp. 31–43.
  • Ventris, Michael
    Michael Ventris
    Michael George Francis Ventris, OBE was an English architect and classical scholar who, along with John Chadwick, was responsible for the decipherment of Linear B.Ventris was educated in Switzerland and at Stowe School...

     and John Chadwick
    John Chadwick
    John Chadwick was an English linguist and classical scholar most famous for his role in deciphering Linear B, along with Michael Ventris.-Early life and education:...

    , 1973. Documents in Mycenaean Greek (Cambridge).
  • Friel, Brian
    Brian Friel
    Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

    , 1980. Translations
  • Smith, William
    William Smith (lexicographer)
    Sir William Smith Kt. was a noted English lexicographer.-Early life:Born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents, he was originally destined for a theological career, but instead was articled to a solicitor. In his spare time he taught himself classics, and when he entered University College...

    ; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
    Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
    The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology is an encyclopedia/biographical dictionary.- Characteristic :...

    , London (1873). "Athe'na"

External links

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