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Facts About Athena – Goddess of Wisdom

By Yona Williams    4/29/10

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Sometimes spelled 'Athene' or 'Athina,' this infamous daughter of Zeus was mostly known as Athena. She was the goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts. Athena was an important goddess and worshipped by many. This is why the Athenians built the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens to pay homage to her. In this article, you will learn other associations and background on the goddess.

Artistic Depictions

Athena is shown as a young woman who wears a helmet and holds a shield. The owl is often present in depictions of the goddess because it symbolizes wisdom and watchfulness. Another symbol used to represent Athena is the aegis (small shield), which shows the head of Medusa – whose hair is comprised of snakes.

Her Roman Counterpart

In Roman mythology, Minerva is the closest goddess in comparison to Athena.

Family Ties

Athena was born to Zeus. Greek myths state that the goddess spring forth out of the forehead of her father. When she was born, she was wearing full armor.

As Athena grew older, she did not take any suitors, but showed great interest in Odysseus and would help whenever the opportunity presented itself, as he traveled on his journeys. His long voyage home after the fall of Troy is described in the great epic poem titled, the Odyssey – written by Homer. Athena is mentioned many times.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Athena is rational and smart. She is powerful when it comes to defense in war, but she plays an important role when it's time for a peacemaker to step in. Her heart was always guided by reason and she rarely showed any emotions or compassion towards men, even though she had her favorites, like Odysseus and Perseus. Because of this, Athena never had any children.
 
Athena's Take on Fighting

Athena is seen as the goddess of war strategy, which was ironic since she really didn’t like fighting without a purpose. She preferred using intelligence to settle disagreements. Whenever she encouraged fighting, there was a reasonable need to solve conflict.

Temple Sites

Since the city of Athens is named after the goddess, it's no wonder that there were many temples erected in her honor. However, the most famous of them all was the Parthenon – the structure that is known as the best preserved as well.

Greek Myths Involving Athena

Athena may have been the daughter of Zeus, but she was not in full agreement with his ways. She would often go against his plans and even conspire against her father. Also, Athena and her uncle, Poseidon, the god of the sea, would compete against one another to see who could earn the affections of the Greeks. For example, Athena had the city named after her for winning a competition between Poseidon and herself. Each god gave the city a gift. Poseidon provided the city with a saltwater spring or horse, whereas Athena gifted an olive tree, which gave shade, oil, and olives. The Greek preferred the olive tree and the city was named after her.

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