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Athena (Attic Greek: Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnā; Ionic: Ἀθήνη, Athēnē; Doric: Ἀθάνα, Athānā) is the Greek goddess of wisdom, knowledge, handicraft, and war, one of the Twelve Olympians. The daughter of Zeus, Athena was regarded as a patroness of the arts and crafts, and served as the protectress of the citadel, otherwise known as the acropolis. The most famous of Athena's temples is the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, which was named after her.
As the goddess of war, Athena represented the side of conflict which employed strategy and discipline, in stark contrast to her brother (and counterpart) Ares, who loved violence, havoc and destruction. Athena viewed war primarily as a means to resolve conflict and was said to favor those who used quick thinking and ingenuity (for example, the hero Odysseus) as opposed to brute force. Her symbols included the spear, Aegis, the Gorgoneion and the olive tree, and the owl and snake were her sacred animals. The goddess Minerva is her Roman equivalent.
Birth[change | change source]
There are many stories about Athena's birth. In Hesiod's Theogony, Zeus had sexual intercourse with Metis, but Zeus was scared of her giving birth to a child because the Oracle of Delphi had said that she will give birth to Athena, and a son that would overthrow Zeus, just like Zeus overthrew Cronus. To stop Metis giving birth to her son, Zeus swallowed her whole. This was when she turned herself into a fly as Zeus and Metis were playing a game. However, Zeus was too late, as Metis was already pregnant.
While she was inside Zeus's head, Metis made a helmet, armor, and a robe for Athena. The hammering noise caused Zeus to have a severe headache. To help Zeus in pain, Ares cut his head open with a Minoan axe. Athena then came out of Zeus's head. She was fully grown and had her armor on.
Titles and patronages[change | change source]
Athena is the goddess of knowledge, purity, arts, crafts, learning, justice and wisdom. She also plays a tough, clever and independent role. Greeks thought she helped them win the Trojan war. Athena often helped heroes, like Jason and Perseus. People joined her cult, hoping she would give them victory.
Attributes and epithets[change | change source]
Athena was given many other titles. She has the epithet Ergane as the patron of craftsmen and artisans. With the epithet Parthenos she was especially worshipped in the festivals of the Panathenaea and Pamboeotia where both militaristic and athletic displays took place. With the epithet Promachos she led in battle. With the epithet Polias, Athena was the protector of not only Athens but also of many other cities, including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa.
Related pages[change | change source]
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