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Athena was the girl child of Zeus and Metis. But there is a controversy, Zeus examined on Metis and found out that if he had a son by her this son could be mightier than him (you recognize, the same way he was greater than his daddy and his daddy was higher than his grandpa). So he tricked Metis and finished up swallowing her when she turned into a fly and figured she wasn’t any longer a threat. However, Metis was pregnant with Athena so when Athena was born, this became a good problem. Soon Zeus was affected with killer head aches and he ran to Hephaestus (Smith God) and begged him to open his head. Hephaestus did because he was told, and out popped Athena, adult and ready for battle!
Other versions peg her father as Pallas (who later tried to ravage her and she killed him without hesitation and took his name and skin). Some say her daddy was Itonus, a King of Iton. Some say her biological father was Poseidon, but that she begged to be adopted by Zeus. Regardless of what the story is, she never incorporates a real mother.
Athena’s birth “is a needy theological expedient to rid her of matriarchal conditions” says J. E. Harrison. She was the Goddess of Wisdom, and the daughter of the Titaness who basically personified it. With her born only from Zeus, it gave males authority and control of something had previously only been a female realm. Zeus swallowed Metis, and so surely could assimilate her crafty wisdom. Athena didn’t have any loyalty to a mother figure, which surely played an essential role in her self-description as misogynist.
Athena was, as I said earlier, the Goddess of more things than I can shake a stick at. But they also can be pretty easily summarized into three things. She was the Goddess of Wisdom, Goddess of Military Victory (war with good tactics and winning strategies, not just fighting, like Ares), and Goddess of Crafts. I need to elaborate a bit more on that last one, just so you can understand her coolness. Athena invented the flute, the trumpet, the earthenware pot, the plough, the rake, the ox-yoke, the horse-bridle, the chariot, also, the ship. Now that’s only the “guy” stuff. She seemed to be the earliest teacher with the science of numbers, and all women’s arts: weaving, cooking, and spinning. If you are looking through paintings and you think you might need found something that is Athena, here is a few of her iconography: the aegis (shield/fringed cloak, sometimes with the head of Medusa on it), a shield (again, sometimes while using head of Medusa), bronze armor, a helmet (this is very common), and a spear (also very common). Athena have also been one of the three Virgin Goddesses on Olympus, something you might like to learn more about.
The Naming of Athens
I am telling this story here (briefly) because it’s imperative that you Athena (I think), but there’s a far greater version of this, for your studying pleasure, in the Myth Pages. So! Wayyyyyy in older days town of Athens belonged to Poseidon. He’d claimed it by arriving, striking a rock along with his trident and establishing a spring. Though the spring only gushed brine, and so it wasn’t very helpful, even if it was reasonably pretty. Several years later, in the course of the reign of Cecrops (a half-snake dude who had previously been the king there), Athena arrived and planted an olive tree, thus proclaiming the land for herself. Poseidon was fully pissed off, and challenged Athena to mortal combat (he would have got his ass kicked) and Athena was about to just accept with the exception that Zeus stepped in and stopped them (he probably didn’t want Poseidon killed). Instead they went before the Gods with Cecrops presenting evidence. The Gods voted. All the males voted for Poseidon and all sorts of the Goddesses voted for Athena, excepting Zeus – who refused to give his opinion. Therefore, Athena won the decision by one vote.
Poseidon was pissed, and – like the stupid boy he was – threw a temper tantrum and flooded a different one of Athena’s cities (called Athenae on a Thriasian Plain). So Athena moved to Athens, took residence there and named that city after herself too. But, to help Poseidon’s ego, the women of Athens were missing out on their vote, and men were no longer to sling their mothers’ names.
Love and youngsters and Virginity
Athena was liked by most everyone, and was a very loving person herself. But she loved everyone in the filial sense (like a sister), and was fully bored with sex. There are heaps of Gods that would have given their eyes to marry her, but she was completely disgusted by the idea. Once, throughout the Trojan War, Athena needed to ask Hephaestus to create her a set of armor and weapons. She agreed to pay him, but Hephaestus insisted that his only payment can be love. She completely missed the lovemaking innuendo and agreed. When she came to Hephaestus’ smithy to develop her stuff, he came at her and tried to ravage her. Obviously that didn’t happen. Don’t think to badly of Hephaestus though, it truly wasn’t all his fault. Poseidon had played a joke on him and told him that Athena was on her method to the smithy hoping to make violent love to him. Athena totally ran away from the unfortunate Hephaestus, but she didn’t move quite fast enough and he ejaculated on her leg. Athena was completely grossed out, and wiped it off with a bit of wool that she then dropped on the planet. That might be Gaia, and she was fertilized by the semen on the wool. Gaia was revolted at the very idea of it, and so she refused to bring a youngster up. Athena was fine with this and thought we would bring the kid, who she named Erichthonius (“Earth-born”), up herself. There’s more to this story (involving love, suicide, and folks getting turned into stone), but if you want to know it, you better sample it out in the Myth Pages. Sadly it is not there yet, so you’re just gonna ought to wait.
Goodness and Temper
In general, Athena was a very nice goddess. She was very modest, like Artemis, but way more generous. Athena, like Artemis, was surprised at an enraptured onlooker while bathing, but she didn’t kill him or transform him or rip him to shreds or anything. She laid her hands over his eyes and blinded him, but gave him inward sight and the chance to understand the birds’ signs to tell the long run. Due to this fact, Teiresias (that has been his name) was highly respected and revered there after. So wasn’t bad at all.
Athena was, as I said, generally cool. But every once in a while she got all pissy (as gods tend to get) and lashed out. Once, was a rather minor incident when she invented this double stemmed flute. She really was anxious about it, and went around playing it everywhere. That is definitely, until someone happened to mention that she looked absolutely ridiculous along with her cheeks puffed out prefer that to experience. She was furious and threw the flute to the ground where it was found by Marsyas, but that’s another story. Las Hilanderas by Diego Velasquez The one time Athena really lost it for something petty what food was in the story of Arachne, and that story isn’t even really Greek. Arachne was this Lydian princess who was a fabulous weaver. She was so good that individuals said she was a lot better than Athena. Athena heard and was all like, “Excuuuuuuse me? Please girl, I was weaving before humans existed,” and challenged Arachne to a weave-off. My mom and dad made beautiful tapestries, and both were completely flawless, except Arachne’s made fun of the Gods. Athena was bitter and very pissed and ripped Arachne’s work to shreds in a cold, vengeful rage. Arachne totally didn’t mean to upset her heroine and hung herself, but Athena remembered herself, and saved the girl by turning her into a spider and giving her the ability to weave forever. In a variation on the same theme, Servius reports that Athena loved this Attic chick, but the girl (Myrmex) went out and betrayed Athena’s trust by claiming to have invented the plow herself, when it was really Athena. See, if they were both mortal, there’d have already been all this drama, someone would’ve gone home crying … but Athena just turned the girl into an ant for being so presumptuous and that was the end of that.
Athena is usually referred to in mythology, but when you don’t know her names, sometimes these references can be hard to catch. She is often called Pallas, or Pallas Athene. This name comes from a childhood friend she had, a nymph, who she accidentally killed when they were having a mock battle. Athena was distraught and carried her friend’s name with her forever more. The name, Pallas, means Maiden. And as Athena is often referred to in this form – which can refer to her Virginity, her Youthful Strength, or her Independence – you should definitely know what it means.Often you will find references to her as “gray-eyed”, a reference which seems linked only to Athena and may have something to do with her wisdom. There is one weird reference by Pausanias about Athena having blue eyes. That comes from a Libyan story that Athena was the daughter of Poseidon and Lake Tritonis, and due to that has blue eyes like her father. But this story is not generally accepted, and you aren’t going to find a blue-eyed Athena anywhere except on one statue next to a specific Temple of Hephaestus, so don’t worry about it. Sometimes she is called “bright-eyed” but that is common to all Gods.In Cylarabes there is an Athena called Pania. This name, I am guessing, comes from her discovery of the flute. In Athens they called her Athena Ergane (Worker) and were very devoted to her because of her crafts. The story of her patronship of Athens is really cool, and I told it above. She was called Athena Aethyia (Gannet, a type of bird), and I don’t know why yet, but there was a Rock dedicated to this where the hero Pandion died.
Tritogeneia was another name of Athena’s. It could have originate from three different sources. Geneia means “born” in Greek, so it could be a mention of the idea that Athena came to be from the Lake Tritonis. It also could have been from tritô, the Aeolian word for “head”, therefore “head-born” – which may create a wide range of sense. The other idea is that the trito was from the root meaning “three” and that she was the 3rd child (she was the 3rd Olympian daughter of Zeus after Artemis and Apollo).
Okay – there are plenty of epithets of Athena that I don’t have room or patience to discuss these at length, but here is a list I copied directly out of Robert E. Bell’s Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary (BUY IT!): Acraea, Aethyia, Ageleia, Agoraea, Alalcomeneis, Alcimache, Alcis, Alea, Amublia, Anemotis, Apaturia, Areia, Asia, Assesia, Axiopoenos, Boulaia, Budeia, Chalinitis, Chryse, Cleidouchos, Colocasia, Coryphasia, Cydonia, Ergane, Glaucopis, Hellotia, Hippia, Hippolatis, Hygieia, Iasonia, Itonia, Laosos, Laphria, Larissaea, Lindia, Longatos, Magarsia, Munychia, Narcaea, Nedusia, Nice, Onca, Ophthalmitis, Optiletis, Oxydercis, Paeonia, Pallas, Pallenis, Panachaea, Pareia, Parthenos, Phrygia, Polias, Poliuchos, Polyboulos, Promachorma, Pronaea, Pylaitis, Saitis, Salpinx, Sciras, Soteira, Telchinia, Triton, Xenia, Zosteria.
Of the many derivations proposed for the name of Athena (or Athene) none is really satisfactory.The Sanskrit vadh (to strike) and adh (hill) have been suggested, as well as the Greek for ‘flower’ and ‘nurse’! All in the dative form, which may be translated as: To the lady of Athena (Atana), to Enyalios, to Paeaon, to Poseidon. By doing this the Minoan-Mycenean name of the Goddess Athena as been preserved for us. The name of the Goddess may be understood straight from the Greek as the one “who comes”. The poetic epithet Pallas frequently joined towards the name Athena arrives either from the Greek ‘to strike’ or more probably in the Greek ‘girl’.
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The Cult of Athena
Though she was honored throughout Greece Athena was the object of an especial cult in Athens. On the Acropolis she’s got, besides the Parthenon, two other temples: the temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum.
The chief festivals from the cult of Athena were: the Arrephoria, throughout which two little girls of noble family, from seven to eleven years old, descended from the Acropolis to deposit in an underground chamber near the sanctuary of Aphrodite mysterious objects which they carried in a basket; the Scirophoria, when priests and priestesses walked in solemn procession under a vast parasol (sciron); and finally the Panathenaea which dated in the days of Theseus and contains a solemn procession to the Acropolis by which was carried to the Goddess a peplos made by probably the most skilled workmen in Athens. Taking part weren’t only priests and magistrates but also girls carrying baskets, old men bearing olive branches and teenagers on horseback. During the Panathenaea were held races, gymnastic games, regattas and contests of music, singing and dancing.
On all the times when Athena came to the aid of heroes it was because they were worthy of her esteem, not because of any amorous attraction. Athena was a striking exception to Olympian society because of her absolute chastity. In spite of calumny and insinuations about supposed relations with Helios, Hephaestus as well as Hercules, her heart remained insensitive towards the pangs of love and she or he defended her virginity fiercely. Woe to anybody who wounded her modesty!
Eventually when she was bathing with the nymph Chariclo, Teiresias by chance beheld her. He was responsible for a maximum of unconscious indiscretion. Athena, nevertheless, punished him by depriving him of his sight. In spite of her companion’s plea for pity she refused to revoke her decision, but to soften the harshness of the punishment she conferred upon the unhappy Teiresias the gift of foretelling the near future.
Hephaestus became enamored of Athena. One day once the Goddess came to see him about creating a suit of armor for her he attempted to violate her. Athena fled, pursued by the limping God, he caught up with her, but she defended herself so effectively that Hephaestus was not able to accomplish his criminal design and, instead, scattered his seed on the earth, which shortly afterwards gave birth to a son, Erichthonius. The child was discovered by Athena, who brought him up unknown to the other Gods. She enclosed the infant in a basket which she confided to the daughters of Cecrops, forbidding them to open it up. One of the sisters, Pandrosus, obeyed; the other 2, Herse and Aglauros, could not control their curiosity. But the moment they opened the basket they fled in terror; for around the infant a serpent was coiled. They were stricken with madness by Athena, and flung themselves off the top of the Acropolis. Erichthonius grew to maturity and became king of Athens, where he established the solemn cult of Athena.
The catastrophic fire which destroyed definitively the palace of Cnossus arround 1375 BCE has burned also seriously the tables of clay from the archives, in such a way that now, after being deciphered, speak to us in the quality of documents of this last period. They are only lists which hold, essentially, names and numbers. Between the names, immediately calls our attention a series of Greek Gods who became later current. Daughter of Zeus, and just by him, the Goddess Athena wasn’t generated by any woman. She leaped from the head of Zeus, already adult, dressed together with her armor.But the mother isn’t completely missing from the miraculous birth of Pallas Athena. According to Hesiod’s account of the weddings of Zeus, the King of the Gods chose Metis as his first wife. She was of all beings “the most knowing” (as the word metis is interpreted), or “of many counsels” as converted in the sense of the Homeric epithet polymetis.
As she was about to give birth to the Goddess Athena, Zeus deceived his pregnant wife with cunning words and assimilated her into his own body. Mother Earth and Father Sky had advised him to do this so as to prevent any of his descendants from robbing him of his kingly rank. For it was destined that the most brilliant children were to be born to the Goddess Metis: first, the daughter Athena, and later a son, the future King of Gods and men. In the most ancient account, the Iliad, Athena may be the Goddess of ferocious and implacable fight, but, wherever she will be found, she only is a warrior to guard the State and the native land against the enemies originating from outside.
She is, above all, the Goddess from the City, the protectress of civilized life, of artesian activities, and of agriculture. She also invented the horse-bit, which, for the first time, tamed horses, allowing men to use them.She is the favorite daughter of Zeus; which explains why he let her use his insignia: the terrible shield, the aegis and his devastating weapon, the ray.The most famous expression to describe her is “the bright eyed”. She’s the first of the three virgin Goddesses, also called Maiden, Parthenos, and out of this name was taken the name to the most important Temple dedicated to her, the Parthenon.In poetry she is the incarnation of Wisdom, Reason and Purity.Athens is her city; the olive tree, developed by her, is her tree; the owl, is the birth consecrated to her.