Athena: 5 Amazing Facts About the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and War

Athena, the most famous goddess of ancient Greek, was associated as the goddess of war, crafts, wisdom, civilization, inspiration, courage, and irrigation. She was famously known as Athene and was equivalent to Roman deity Minerva, due to their similarities in power and associations. There were three virgin goddesses, Athena was one of them and the other two were Artemis and Hestia.

Apart from this, she was also the Aegean goddess of the palace and was the most trusted protector of the king. Besides protecting the king, she also helped Greek god Hercules hold the world while Atlas was searching for sacred apples belonging to the Hesperides. This act of her proved her to be the most courageous goddess of ancient Greece.

The Statue of the Greek Goddess Athena in front of the Austrian parliament building in Vienna, Austria/ThoughtCo.

Also, being the goddess of the palace gave her extra advantage and courage. She was able to defeat almost everyone including Goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and pleasure. Athena also played a vital role at the beginning of the Trojan War, as she along with Hera and Aphrodite involved themselves in a feud. She also assisted the Achaeans and became one of the important factors in the Iliad.

Athena was born to Zeus

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, was born to Zeus – the ancient Greek god of the sky, thunder, and lighting. A very interesting myth tells that she was actually born from the forehead of Zeus instead of being born from the womb of her mother, Metis. She had three siblings, Artemis, Apollo, and Hermes. All three of them were her half-brothers. And, Poseidon, the famous Greek god of the sea, was her uncle. Since she was the virgin goddess, she did not have a partner or any children.

Ancient Greeks Worshipped Athena

People of ancient Greece honoured and worshipped Athena with a full heart. She was mainly worshipped in the city of Athens.  This city was particularly named after the goddess Athena to honour her. She was able to impress the people by gifting them with a very important and impactful olive tree, which proved to be very useful.

Zeus, Greek god of the sky, lightning and the thunder, and ruler of all the gods on Mount Olympus/Factinate.

However, she was also equally honoured in other major cities of ancient Greece including Sparta, Lindos. Larisa, Gortyn, and Argos.

An Owl Was One of Athena’s Major Symbols

As a Greek Goddess, Athena was mainly associated with acropolises of numerous Greek cities who were near to the palace and were attributed with virginity. Besides this, she was also associated with responsibilities such as being the goddess of war, wisdom, courage, inspiration, and crafts. Owls, olive trees, snakes, and Aegis were her major symbols. Every single symbol associated with her had some story behind it. For instance, the olive tree became one of their symbols, after she gifted the tree to the people of Athens.

Coming to her depiction, she is depicted as wearing a breastplate which was made out of goatskin and known as Aegis and is accompanied by her owl and Nike, the goddess of victory. Also, she sometimes is depicted in a special art of armour with a golden helmet on her head also with a shield and holding a spear.

Athens Was Named After Her

Numerous myths go by which include the courageous Greek goddess Athena. One of the most common myths is about her birth. It is said that Athena was born from the hole that was formed in Zeus’s forehead. Zeus started having a severe headache and had to form a hole in his forehead, from which Athena is believed to have emerged fully grown up and holding armour and weapons.

She had the resemblance of her mother, Metis and was intelligent, wise, and courageous like her. Another myth says that she defeated the Ares. In ancient Greece, there were very few deities so she was very renowned and honoured by everyone for her strength and power. Likewise, the other myth is about her and her uncle, Poseidon.

Statue of the goddess Athena in Petergof, Russia/Unsplash

Poseidon wanted to be in charge of every town and city of Greece and so did Athena. They both noticed a new coastal village in Greece and wanted to empower that and started claiming it as their own. It started a dispute as people had problems having two. Poseidon wanted the villagers to choose amongst them but Athena being god of wisdom planned something.

Both the deities would give gifts to the villagers and they would choose the best gift. Poseidon gave a stream in the middle of the hill, and it became a useful gift as the villagers got the source of water. But the water was not fresh at all and it was salt water.

Whereas, Athena gifted them with an olive tree, which could be used for olives, olive oil, furniture, in the kitchen, and fireplace. Finally, Poseidon let Athena rule the village, which was then named city of Athens.

Athena Was the Most Worshipped Goddess in Greek Mythology

Athena, being the only daughter of Zeus, managed to rule over many deities. She was regarded as the goddess of various aspects such as justice, strategic warfare, and wisdom. However, her popularity began and was celebrated with numerous activities including metalwork, philosophy, and weaving. People of the famous city, Athens were the ones who took part in such activities to honour their goddess. Athena, through her strength and wisdom, managed to appear as the most celebrated, honoured, and worshipped goddess of the Greek mythology.

This article was sent in by Richard Marrison of A Hungarian from Budapest who holds a degree in Cultural Anthropology from Eötvös Loránd University.

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