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7 Facts about the Goddess Athena

By Yona Williams    7/26/12

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Out of all the Olympian gods and goddesses, Athena ranks high as one of the most renowned and respected. Known as a fair and compassionate deity, the goddess appears in a variety of myths and often takes pity on mortals. In this article, you will learn about the favorite child of Zeus – the leader of the gods.

1.    The goddess Athena is associated with wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.

2.    The Roman equivalent of Athena was Minerva, who shared some of the same attributes as she.

3.    Symbols associated with the goddess Athena include owls, olive trees, snakes, armor, helmets, spears and the gorgon head – what Medusa was.

4.    Athens, Greece was named in the honor of the goddess because they were appreciative of her gift of the olive tree. Since then, she was acknowledged as the protector of cities.

5.    Equipped with many different talents, Athena was given the nickname of "Athena Goddess of Crafts" because she showed expertise in the arts. She was celebrated as a patron of weavers, potters, goldsmiths, sculptors, musicians, and men that rode on horses. Many inventions were attributed to Athena, including the yoke and the bridle, the sailing ship, as well as instruments called the flute and trumpet.

6.    Athena is usually known as a levelheaded individual and there are rare occasion when she is portrayed as losing her cool. In one ancient Greek myth, Athena received a challenge from a young mortal woman named Arachne. She wanted to test the goddess' talent in weaving. Arachne believed that she was a better weaver than Athena. The goddess was not angry with this challenge and fairly judged Arachne's creation as being just as flawless as her own. However, it was the subject matter of the tapestry that Arachne created. The subject of the artwork showed an adulterous Zeus, who happened to be Athena's father. The goddess was extremely angry that Arachne would mock the authority of her father. In response, Athena destroyed the tapestry and caused Arachne to hang herself. When Athena calmed down, she felt sorry for Arachne. She allowed her to live by transforming her into a spider so that she could weave lovely webs for the rest of her life.

7.    Before Athena became the patron deity of Athens, she competed against Poseidon for the honor. At the time, the city did not have a name. One of the founding myths that the Greeks passed on involved the agreement that Poseidon and Athena made with one another. They agreed that they would each give the Athenians one gift and that the people would select a present that would determine whose name would represent the city. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, which left behind a saltwater spring. The people benefited from the water and trade that resulted in the gift. However the water was salty and not good for drinking. When it came time for Athena to present her gift, she offered the people the first domesticated olive tree. The locals accepted the olive tree because it gave oil, wood and food.

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