82 Facts About Athena


Athena or Athene, often given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, warfare, and handicraft who was later syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva.

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Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens, from which she most likely received her name.

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Athena's was known as Polias and Poliouchos, and her temples were usually located atop the fortified acropolis in the central part of the city.

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Athena's was a warrior goddess, and was believed to lead soldiers into battle as Athena Promachos.

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In Greek mythology, Athena was believed to have been born from the forehead of her father Zeus.

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In some versions of the story, Athena has no mother and is born from Zeus' forehead by parthenogenesis.

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In others, such as Hesiod's Theogony, Zeus swallows his consort Metis, who was pregnant with Athena; in this version, Athena is first born within Zeus and then escapes from his body through his forehead.

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Athena was the patron goddess of heroic endeavor; she was believed to have aided the heroes Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, and Jason.

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Athena's plays an active role in the Iliad, in which she assists the Achaeans and, in the Odyssey, she is the divine counselor to Odysseus.

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Since the Renaissance, Athena has become an international symbol of wisdom, the arts, and classical learning.

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Testimonies from different cities in ancient Greece attest that similar city goddesses were worshipped in other cities and, like Athena, took their names from the cities where they were worshipped.

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Athena was originally the Aegean goddess of the palace, who presided over household crafts and protected the king.

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Nilsson and others have claimed that, in early times, Athena was either an owl herself or a bird goddess in general.

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Classical scholar Charles Penglase notes that Athena resembles Inanna in her role as a "terrifying warrior goddess" and that both goddesses were closely linked with creation.

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In Greek mythology, Athena was reported to have visited mythological sites in North Africa, including Libya's Triton River and the Phlegraean plain.

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The "Black Athena" hypothesis stirred up widespread controversy near the end of the twentieth century, but it has now been widely rejected by modern scholars.

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Athena was worshipped at festivals such as Chalceia as Athena Ergane, the patroness of various crafts, especially weaving.

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Athena's was the patron of metalworkers and was believed to aid in the forging of armor and weapons.

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Athena represented the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust, and slaughter—"the raw force of war".

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Athena was believed to only support those fighting for a just cause and was thought to view war primarily as a means to resolve conflict.

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Kerenyi's study and theory of Athena explains her virginal epithet as a result of her relationship to her father Zeus and a vital, cohesive piece of her character throughout the ages.

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Marinus of Neapolis reports that when Christians removed the statue of the goddess from the Parthenon, a beautiful woman appeared in a dream to Proclus, a devotee of Athena, and announced that the "Athenian Lady" wished to dwell with him.

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Athena was not only the patron goddess of Athens, but other cities, including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa.

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The various cults of Athena were all branches of her panhellenic cult and often proctored various initiation rites of Grecian youth, such as the passage into citizenship by young men or the passage of young women into marriage.

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Athena was frequently equated with Aphaea, a local goddess of the island of Aegina, originally from Crete and associated with Artemis and the nymph Britomartis.

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Sanctuaries dedicated to Athena Alea were located in the Laconian towns of Mantineia and Tegea.

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The temple of Athena Alea in Tegea was an important religious center of ancient Greece.

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Athena had a major temple on the Spartan Acropolis, where she was venerated as Poliouchos and Khalkioikos .

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An Ionic-style temple to Athena Polias was built at Priene in the fourth century BC.

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Athena was sometimes given the epithet Hippia, referring to her invention of the bit, bridle, chariot, and wagon.

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Athena was associated with the owl from very early on; in archaic images, she is frequently depicted with an owl perched on her hand.

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Yet another possible meaning is mentioned in Diogenes Laertius' biography of Democritus, that Athena was called "Tritogeneia" because three things, on which all mortal life depends, come from her.

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Athena's was the daughter of Zeus, produced without a mother, and emerged full-grown from his forehead.

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Athena's was essentially urban and civilized, the antithesis in many respects of Artemis, goddess of the outdoors.

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Athena was probably a pre-Hellenic goddess and was later taken over by the Greeks.

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Athena was in such pain that he ordered someone to cleave his head open with the labrys, the double-headed Minoan axe.

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In one version of the myth, Pallas was the daughter of the sea-god Triton; she and Athena were childhood friends, but Athena accidentally killed her during a friendly sparring match.

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Distraught over what she had done, Athena took the name Pallas for herself as a sign of her grief.

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Athena was said to have carved the statue herself in the likeness of her dead friend Pallas.

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The qualities that led to victory were found on the aegis, or breastplate, that Athena wore when she went to war: fear, strife, defense, and assault.

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Athena appears in Homer's Odyssey as the tutelary deity of Odysseus, and myths from later sources portray her similarly as the helper of Perseus and Heracles .

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Athena wiped the semen off using a tuft of wool, which she tossed into the dust, impregnating Gaia and causing her to give birth to Erichthonius.

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Zeus agreed to this and Hephaestus and Athena were married, but, when Hephaestus was about to consummate the union, Athena vanished from the bridal bed, causing him to ejaculate on the floor, thus impregnating Gaia with Erichthonius.

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Geographer Pausanias records that Athena placed the infant Erichthonius into a small chest, which she entrusted to the care of the three daughters of Cecrops: Herse, Pandrosos, and Aglauros of Athens.

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Athena's warned the three sisters not to open the chest, but did not explain to them why or what was in it.

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Pseudo-Apollodorus records that Athena guided the hero Perseus in his quest to behead Medusa.

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Athena gave Perseus a polished bronze shield to view Medusa's reflection rather than looking at her directly and thereby avoid being turned to stone.

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Athena's appears in four of the twelve metopes on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia depicting Heracles's Twelve Labors, including the first, in which she passively watches him slay the Nemean lion, and the tenth, in which she is shown actively helping him hold up the sky.

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Athena's appears in Nausicaa's dreams to ensure that the princess rescues Odysseus and plays a role in his eventual escort to Ithaca.

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Athena appears to Odysseus upon his arrival, disguised as a herdsman; she initially lies and tells him that Penelope, his wife, has remarried and that he is believed to be dead, but Odysseus lies back to her, employing skillful prevarications to protect himself.

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Athena's push for Telemachos's journey helps him grow into the man role, that his father once held.

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Athena's plays a role in ending the resultant feud against the suitors' relatives.

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Athena's instructs Laertes to throw his spear and to kill Eupeithes, the father of Antinous.

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Athena inadvertently saw Athena naked, so she struck him blind to ensure he would never again see what man was not intended to see.

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Athena replied that she could not restore Tiresias's eyesight, so, instead, she gave him the ability to understand the language of the birds and thus foretell the future.

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Athena's became so conceited of her skill as a weaver that she began claiming that her skill was greater than that of Athena herself.

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Athena gave Arachne a chance to redeem herself by assuming the form of an old woman and warning Arachne not to offend the deities.

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Athena wove the scene of her victory over Poseidon in the contest for the patronage of Athens.

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Athena's tapestry depicted the 12 Olympian gods and defeat of mythological figures who challenged their authority.

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Athena admitted that Arachne's work was flawless, but was outraged at Arachne's offensive choice of subject, which displayed the failings and transgressions of the deities.

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Finally, losing her temper, Athena destroyed Arachne's tapestry and loom, striking it with her shuttle.

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Athena then struck Arachne across the face with her staff four times.

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Arachne hanged herself in despair, but Athena took pity on her and brought her back from the dead in the form of a spider.

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Athena's was annoyed at this, so she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the word ?a???st?, which she threw among the goddesses.

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Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claimed to be the fairest, and thus the rightful owner of the apple.

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Athena gets into a duel with Ares, the god of the brutal wars, and her male counterpart Ares blames her for encouraging Diomedes to tear his beautiful flesh.

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Athena deflects his blow with her aegis, a powerful shield that even Zeus's thunderbolt and lightning cannot blast through.

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Athena picked up a massive boulder and threw it at Ares, who immediately crumpled to the ground.

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Athena taunted the gods who supported Troy, saying that they will too eventually end up like Ares and Aphrodite, which scared them, therefore proving her power and reputation among the other gods.

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In Book XXII of the Iliad, while Achilles is chasing Hector around the walls of Troy, Athena appears to Hector disguised as his brother Deiphobus and persuades him to hold his ground so that they can fight Achilles together.

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Athena appears frequently in classical Greek art, including on coins and in paintings on ceramics.

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In classical depictions, Athena is usually portrayed standing upright, wearing a full-length chiton.

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Athena's is most often represented dressed in armor like a male soldier and wearing a Corinthian helmet raised high atop her forehead.

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Scenes in which Athena was represented include her birth from the head of Zeus, her battle with the Gigantes, the birth of Erichthonius, and the Judgement of Paris.

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Copies reveal that this statue depicted Athena holding her shield in her left hand with Nike, the winged goddess of victory, standing in her right.

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Athena Polias is represented in a Neo-Attic relief now held in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which depicts her holding an owl in her hand and wearing her characteristic Corinthian helmet while resting her shield against a nearby herma.

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In Sandro Botticelli's painting Pallas and the Centaur, probably painted sometime in the 1480s, Athena is the personification of chastity, who is shown grasping the forelock of a centaur, who represents lust.

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Athena is used as the personification of wisdom in Bartholomeus Spranger's 1591 painting The Triumph of Wisdom or Minerva Victorious over Ignorance.

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Statue of Athena stands directly in front of the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna, and depictions of Athena have influenced other symbols of Western freedom, including the Statue of Liberty and Britannia.

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Athena has occasionally appeared on modern coins, as she did on the ancient Athenian drachma.

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Athena is a natural patron of universities: At Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, a statue of Athena resides in the Great Hall.

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Pallas Athena is the tutelary goddess of the international social fraternity Phi Delta Theta.

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