The Goddess Athena is a part of Greek Mythology. Athena was the Greek Goddess of War and the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. She was also known as the Goddess of Weaving and Metal Working. However, as the Goddess of War, her field of knowledge was not violence and so on. That was the domain of Ares, God of War. Athena was the Goddess of the more disciplined element of War, such as Strategy.
The birth of Athena is a very fascinating story. She is the daughter of Zeus and Metis .It had been prophesized that if Metis had a son, he would be more powerful than the father. This meant that if Metis had a son from Zeus, then that son could overthrow Zeus. Frightened of this possibility, Zeus tricked Metis into changing into a fly after he lay with her. As soon as she became a fly, he ingested her. However, Metis was already expecting and was making a helmet and an amour for the child within the foetus. The hammering triggered such a headache for Zeus that he had to order Hermes to cut his head open and remove the source of the pain. As soon as his head was cut open, Athena hopped out, fully grown and clothed in the helmet and armor.
Athena’s appearance is always explained as having gray eyes which were shining. She would always be accompanied by an owl. An owl is a symbol of wisdom and is a bird that has the functionality of seeing in the dark. Often, Athena is also accompanied by the Goddess of Victory, Nike. Athena is always depicted wearing armor and a helmet.
Athena was always described as a virgin. There are no instances of her having any lovers. Hence, she was described as Athena Parthenos. Parthenos means virgin. The Greek temple called the Partheneon is dedicated to Athena.
There are many stories in Greek mythology, which identify the various good qualities of Athena. Some of them are given below.
How the city of Athens got its name is also a curious story. Apparently, both Poseidon (the sea god) and Athena competed to win the favor of the Greeks. So each of them gave a gift to the city people, who would then decide which was the best one. Poseidon thrust his trident into the ground and a originate gushed forth.
Although the spring developed a port in the city which would facilitate trade, the water of the spring was salty and not fit to drink. Athena, on the other hand, gave the city an Olive tree. The tree could be used for wood, the fruit for food and oil. The Greeks recommended the gift of the Olive tree, and therefore the city was named ‘Athens’ after Athena the goddess of wisdom.
Athena is often referred to as Pallas Athena. There is a story behind that as well. Seemingly, Pallas was her childhood friend and they would play with each other all the time. One day, unintentionally, Athena injured Pallas and the injuries caused her death. Since then, Athena took on the name of her friend, so that she would be remembered by her forever.
Another story tells us about Athena’s wisdom and hot-headedness and her talent with weaving. Evidently a lady called Arachne used to boast that she was the best weaver ever. Athena went and challenged her. A contest began. Athena wove a scene showing the competition between her and Poseidon over Athens. Arachne, in her vanity, wove a scene of Zeus in trouble with his many wives.
Athena became furious and burned the tapestry down along with Arachne. Later on, she regretted it, and turned Arachne into a spider so that she would weave her beautiful designs forever.
There are also instances of Athena assisting other people, in several stories from Greek Mythology. She helped Perseus in killing Medusa. She taught Heracles how to remove the skin of the Neaman Lion. She guided Odysseyus via his dreams on his long journey back home from Troy.
After Greece was overcome by Rome, Athena was incorporated with a similar goddess from Roman Mythology called Minerva.
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