Introduction to Athena the Greek God

Athena, also mentioned as Athene, was known as the goddess of wisdom, civilization, strength, war, strategy, art, and crafts. Also, she was greeted as the goddess Minerva in Roman mythology.
Athena was considered as the protectress and guider of different cities all over Greece. Most probably, the city of Athens came from her name. By holding a spear and wearing a helmet, Athena is presented in art in a dignified way where her main symbols are with owls, snakes, olive trees, and the Gorgoneion. She is also known as Pallas Athena. Father Zeus gifted breastplate made out of goatskin, and she was used to wearing it.

Athena has many more names that describe her in a significant way, including, Athan the wise, helmet head, and more. She was an armed warrior goddess.

Her famous and popular church was the Parthenon in Athens. Athena never has a real lover or even nobody to touch or own her. She was close to her mother, father, and her brothers and sisters. Some strange reasons kept her away from falling in love.
Hephaestus gave a try once, but it ended in smoke. Athena gained goodwill as the mentor or decision-maker for the help of heroes. In the Odyssey, she helped Odysseus’ son Telemachus to find his father’s location, and also, she stood on the side of Perseus with the shield to fight against Medusa.

Metis was the mother of Athena. Once Metis warned Zeus if she gave him a boy child, the child would be more superior to him. After hearing it, Zeus devoured her and started feeling a terrible headache. By using an axe, Hephestus split his head, and then fortuitously, Athena came out of Zeus’s head.

Athena appeared with complete grown with her signs the spear and the great helmet of Athena. Athena was much more similar to her brother Ares. They were both war lovers, but Athena was quicker in thinking and good at war strategy than Ares.  

Ares was the violence, power, and killer of mythology, where Athena was known as having intelligence, skills, and prosperity. The name of Athens came with the memory of Athena. Athena showed her skills for competence for making cloth.

Once a brilliant weaver named Arachne, who was a young maiden, dared that she was a better weaver than the Athena. Hearing it, Athena came down to the ground to witness the skill of Arachne. Then Athena and Arachne competed in weaving for making fabric.

Finally, Arachne was the winner, and it enraged Athena. Consequently, Athena transformed Arachne into a spider form, and it’s the story of creating the name Arachne. Ovid also tells how Athena transformed Medusa into a Gorgon after observing her raped by Poseidon in the temple. Evolution of time, Athena has become a global figure of creativity, wisdom, and traditional learning. Western artisans and allegorists have widely used Athena as a symbol of independence and equality.

Etymology (Athena the Greek God)

Athena is attached to the city of Athens. The city name comes with the ancient Greek word Athenai which is a plural toponym. According to myth, the word indicates a place where she controlled the Athenai, sisterhood dedicated to her devotion.

In ancient times, the scholars debated whether Athens was named after Athena or Athen after Athens. But now it’s clear that the goddess accepts her name from the city. The ending “ene” is a common name of locations, but it is rare to see this for personal names.

The testimony from numerous cities in ancient Greece confirms that, in other cities, the same goddesses were worshiped as like as Athena, and their names also come from the city name. For example, Thebe is from Thebes, Mukene is from Mycenae.  

The Greek great scholar Plato describes some creative etymologies of Athena’s name, based on the principles of the early Athenians and his personal etymological speculations. Plato concluded that Athena’s name was originated from Greek Atheonóa, which Greeks reconciled as from the deity’s mind.

Cult and patronages (Athena the Greek God)

Panhellenic and Athenian cult

In the sense of Athena Polias, Athena was worshiped as the goddess of the city and the protector of the citadel. The “Feast of the Bath,” or, the Plynteria was partied at the end of the month each year of Thargelion in Athens.

The celebration continued for five days. During the days, the devotees of Athena executed a cleansing ritual inside the Erechtheion, a shrine devoted to Athena and Poseidon.

At that time, Athena’s statue was nude, her clothes washed, and her body cleaned. Athena was venerated at many more festivals like the patroness of multiple crafts, Chalceia as Athena Ergane, most importantly, in weaving competition.

It is considered that Athena was the explorer of metalworkers to assist in the making of armor and weapons. At the end of the fifth century, the role of the goddess of philosophy grew a significant feature of Athena’s cult.

Athena was believed to lead soldiers in combat because she was known as Athena Promachos. Indeed Athena designed the disciplined and diplomatic side of the war.

Athena supported the fighting for the solution to the conflict. The Greeks considered Athena with much higher appreciation than Ares. During the celebrations of the Panathenaea and Pamboeotia, Athena was particularly venerated by displaying of athletic and military prowess.

As the success helper of heroes and warriors in the battle, Athena was supposed to assist those who raised cunning and intelligence rather than beast strength.

In the prospect of a warrior maiden, Athena was well-known as Parthenos since she was assumed to remain perpetually a virgin as her fellow goddesses Hestia and Artemis. The Parthenon, the most famous temple of Athena, takes its name from the title of Athena.

One of the prominent scholars of Greek mythology described the name of Parthenos is not only the remark of Athena’s virginity but also a remembrance of her character as an enforcer of rules of sexual purity and custom mystery.

The Athenians granted the goddess value of pureness of virginity, which they confirmed as a rudiment of female expression.

The study of Kerenyi about Athena tells that Athen’s virginal appellation is the result of her relationship with her father Zeus. There are lots of stories about the virginity of Athena.

According to Neapolis in Marinus, when Christians freed all the statue of the goddess from the Parthenon, then a beautiful lady appeared to Proclus’s dream and declared that the “Athenian Lady” desired to dwell with him.

Regional cults (Athena the Greek God)

Athena was not only the guardian of Athens, but also other cities including Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, Argos, Larisa, and Gortyn. Athena was considered equal to Aphaea, who was a goddess of the island of Aegina.

On the other hand, in Arcadia, she was harmonized with the ancient goddess Alea and worshiped by people as Athena Alea. The temple of Athena Alea was located in Tegea, a core religious center of ancient Greece.

Another notable temple of Athena was on the Spartan Acropolis, where she worshiped as Khalkioikos and Poliouchos. In the fourth century BC, An Ionic-style temple to Athena Polias was built and

An Ionic-style temple to Athena Polias was built at Priene in the fourth century BC, which was designed by Pytheos of Priene, and he is the same architect who also designed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

The temple was dedicated by Alexander the Great, and an engraving from the temple declaring his dedication is now kept in the British Museum.


Birth of Athena the Greek God

Athena was born from Zeus’s forehead when Zeus swallowed her mother Metis. In the ancient Olympian pantheon, Athena was regarded as the beloved daughter of Zeus, who came out of his forehead with fully armed.

There are different versions of the story of Athena’s birth. According to Hesiod in his Theogony, Zeus married the goddess Metis who was considered as the wiser among gods and mortal men and had sex with her.

When Zeus knew Metis’s pregnancy, then he was a little bit afraid because the future child would try to overcome him as Ouranos and Gaia predicted that the children from metis would be wiser than their fathers.

Zeus didn’t want it with him, so he swallowed Metis, but it was too late as Metis had already conceived, and finally, Athena born from the forehead of the Zeus.

Pallas Athena

According to one version of the myth, Pallas was the daughter of Triton, the sea-god. Athena and Pallas were good childhood friends. During a friendly boxing match, Athena killed Pallas accidentally.

After that, Athena added the name of Pallas to herself as the grief of killing her. Another version of the story describes that Pallas was a Gigante and Athena killed him during the Gigantomachy, and peeled off his skin to make her coat, which she wore as a winning trophy.

Lady of Athena the Greek God

According to a Pseudo-Apollodorus, Athena competed with Poseidon for the help of Athens. They two agreed on a point that they each would give Athenians one gift and the king of Athens, Cecrops would choose which gift was better.

Poseidon hit the ground with his trident, and then saltwater spring created, and it facilitated the Athenians a lot. In another version of the myth from Vergil’s Georgics, Poseidon gave Athenians the first horse, and Athena gave the first conventional olive tree.

The kind of Athen accepted the gift and declared Athena the patrons of Athens. The olive tree produced oil, wood, and food, and Athens gained economic prosperity day by day.

Patron of heroes

The Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca explains that Athena guided Argos, and it helped him to the construction of the ship on which the hero Jason and his group of Argonauts sailed. Pindar’s Thirteenth Olympian Ode tells that Athena aided the hero Bellerophon to tame the flying horse Pegasus by giving him a little effort.

According to ancient Greek art, Athena frequently helped the hero Heracles. In the Odyssey, Odysseus’s craft and intelligent nature promptly win Athena’s favor. Also, there are many more stories that Athena helped the heroes. She advised Laertes to throw his spear and to kill the father of Antinous, Eupeithes.  

Athena’s guiding efforts make her perfect for the role of “protectress of heroes.”

Art and symbolism

Athena is a figure that has been noted all across western history as a symbol of liberty and justice. Throughout the Middle Ages, Athena grew widely and used as a Christian type and story, and she developed on the family feathers of certain noble homes.

While the Renaissance, Athena wore the cloak of the patron of the craft, arts, and human endeavor. Italian Renaissance painters were a great fan of allegorical paintings related to Athena.

In the Bartholomeus Spranger’s 1591 painting, Athena is also used as the metaphor of wisdom on Minerva Victorious over Ignorance. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Athena was used as a model for female rulers.

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