Athena, goddess of wisdom, was one of the only three Goddesses who would remain a virgin goddess, never marrying, nor falling to prey to love or the spells of Aphrodite, goddess of love. Romance is never featured in Athena’s mythology, and one could she say she’s the archetypal business woman.
Now the way it all started for Athena, the manner in which she was born, was truly amazing. Zeus once laid with the woman Metis. However there was a prophecy that any child born from Metis would surpass Zeus and even usurp him. Zeus fearful of the prophecy swallowed Metis (perhaps not the greatest way to solve his problems, though probably the most expedient at the time) whole trying to prevent the birth of a child, however Metis was already pregnant at the time, and while she was inside the stomach of Zeus her child grew.
Eventually Zeus was hit with an enormous headache. Eventually his headache became extremely unbearable and he could no longer take the pain he was in. He asked for the help of Hermes, messenger of the Gods., who struck his forehead the Labrys, a double-headed Minoan axe. When Hermes split open Zeus’s head Athena sprung forth from his forehead fully grown and fully clothed and armed. An unconventional birth indeed!
Zeus loved Athena dearly. Not only was he glad that Athena was not the prophesized son that would lead to his demise, but Athena was also the Goddess of Wisdom. Subsequently Zeus shared with Athena many of his secrets and even sought her advice frequently. She served as Zeus’s prime advisor. Zeus even let her use his lightning bolt and the Aegis, a magical sheepskin that endowed the wearer with invincibility! That’s a big deal, he probably loved those bolts and that Aegis more than he did his wife.
As said before Athena was a virgin goddess. She never married, and she never had a lover, and subsequently she had no blood children. However she did have a child she treated as her own. Once Hephaestus, God of smithing, attempted to rape Athena, however he was unsuccessful as she was able to evade him. Instead his seed fell upon the Earth and impregnated Gaia. From the impregnation was born Erichthonius. Athena found Erichtonius and treated him as her own child nurturing him. She first entrusted him to the daughters Kekprops, concealing him inside a box and forbid the daughters from opening the chest that contained her son. However the white-feathered crow came and convinced the daughters to open the chest. Athena punished the daughters for their defying a divine order, driving them mad, leading them to their death by jumping off a cliff, and for the crow Athena turned it’s beautiful white feathers into the black feathers it has today. Subsequently Athena took Erichtonius back into her own hands Eventually he would grow to become king of Athens, a rule where he was frequently advised and protected by Athena.
One of Athena’s many roles was Goddess of War. She was opposite her brother, Ares who was also a deity of war. Her war was the war of strategy and cool logic, must different from Ares’ war of bloodlust and violence.
In fact Athena did what she could to prevent war. Such as in the case of the Trojan War. When the war broke out Athena descended upon the battle site, and made each side swear an oath to keep peace and not attack the other side. Despite her efforts Pandaros, in great cowardice, let loose an arrow, which sparked the battle and the war. Athena was angry and so joined the Greeks, which in the end allowed the Greeks to claim victory in the war. One of her many great ideas was the use of the Trojan Horse, which was a decisive maneuver that helped consolidate victory.
Athena stratagem in battles was so impeccable and effective that Nike, Goddess of Winged Victory, would follow Athena into battle regardless, since Athena, Goddess of wisdom, never lost a battle….. ever. Athena also had extraordinary courage. She was a goddess who refused to back down from even the most frightening of situations. When Gaia had created the monster Typhon, and it started its rampage towards Olympus, all of the Gods and Goddesses cowered in fear and fled. That is all but Athena, she stayed behind. She was also disgusted by the actions of the other Gods Generally Athena is depicted holding a spear adorning a golden helmet upon her forehead, so basically in attack position. However despite her very warrior-like appearance, Athena was much better known for her role as judge, diplomat, mediator, and advisor than a warrior. She was considered extremely fair and compassionate in all her judgments and her advice.
As a wise advisory many gods, goddesses and heroes sought her amazing advice, and many times she even sought and helped others with her advice, giving them not only advice but also protection, and the ability to win seemingly impossible tasks.
In one case she helped Odysseus the hero of the Trojan War. Odysseus won favor with Athena with his intelligence and shrewd nature. She, throughout the epic, implants thoughts and ideas in his head that help his adventure, even descending to Earth when he washes ashore on Nausicaa and instructed the princess to aide him. Even later she appeared to him before he entered the capital where his wife Penelope resided. She tries to convince him that Penelope thinks him dead and has remarried, however Odysseus is able to see through her guise. Athena impressed, disguises Odysseus as a beggar so he might enter undetected and gives him the help and advice he needed to kill his wife’s suitors and become king again.
Similarly Athena also championed the causes of Heracles, the demigod and hero of Greece. She helped him repeatedly throughout his labors, giving him the insight to know to kill the Nemean Lion by using its own claws to pierce its unbreakable hide. She also assisted in his killing of the Stymphalian Birds and helped him navigate the underworld so he could finally capture Cerberus and complete his twelve labors.
Not only was Athena wise beyond any other god or goddess known. Her decisions were also considered highly fair, and she was known for her great compassion in her decision making.
In the case of the man called Tiresias, Tiresias accidentally fell upon a lake where he saw a woman bathing. In most cases he would’ve been thanking the gods and goddesses for his bountiful luck, however in this case he found extremely bad luck, because the woman he found bathing was the Goddess Athena! Most goddesses would have instinctively cast death upon the individual, for such an offense the punishment was death. However Athena was compassionate and spared him from death. Rather she blinded him and simultaneously gave him the power of prophecy. Tiresias, because of Athena’s help, became one of the most renowned prophets in all of Greece.
Being as she was calm cool and collected Athena almost never got furious, and was renowned for her almost constant calm. However there is one case where Athena became enraged and did things really not like her. In the story of Arachne, Arachne, the mortal woman, challenged Athena to weaving contest, to see if her weaving was better than the goddess herself. Once the challenge was over Athena very calmly assessed her weaving as well as that of Arachne and deemed them equal in skill as well as beauty. However it wasn’t with the tie that Athena became engraged about. However what did enrage Athena were the depictions in Arachne’s weavings. In her weavings, Arachne depicted the various adulterous affairs of Zeus, Athena’s father. Angry and livid that Arachne would be so arrogant to mock the God Zeus himself, Athena chased her down after tearing her tapestry into shreds, and when she finally caught up she forced Arachne to hang herself. After Arachne hung herself Athena realized she shouldn’t have lost her cool, and took pity on her. She turned Arachne into a spider and let her live on, allowing her to weave her beautiful webs for eternity.
She also punished those properly who committed acts of Hubris towards the Gods. She found their vanity displeasing and wrought divine judgment upon any mortal who decided that they were better than the immortal Gods and Goddesses, a judgment fitting to their sacrilegious boast. Such was the fate of Medusa. Medusa was once a nymph whose beauty was of grand renown. Men flocked simply to gaze upon her amazing beauty. Of course all this attention eventually got to her head; she began to become a little arrogant. In her arrogance she even claimed that she was even more beautiful than the Goddess Athena. Now Athena didn’t take this claim very well, not to mention the fact that Medusa just committed sacrilege. It was said that Medusa was most proud of her beautiful hair more than anything else. Thus Athena turned Medusa into a monstrous gorgon, also turning her beautiful hair into a nest of deadly snakes. Medusa’s curse made it so that any man who gazed at her face would be turned into stone (I guess she had stone cold good looks now). This petrifying gaze prevented any man from ever admiring her beauty ever again.
Warcraft and advisory were not Athena’s only talents. Athena was also a renowned artisan and subsequently was known as Goddess of Crafts. People celebrated Athena as the patron goddess of weavers, potters, goldsmiths, sculptors, musicians, and horsemen.
It was said that Athena had invented the musical instrument the flute. Made out of deer bones, Athena constructed and crafted this fine musical instrument with great precision and skill. When she finished she played her instrument, and was proud of herself for having created such an amazing instrument. She immediately went to one of the banquets for the Gods and Goddesses, where she played the flute for the guests. However when she played Hera and Aphrodite simply laughed at her, specifically they laughed at the way her cheeks puffed up when she played the flute. Disappointed Athena went to a nearby fountain and gazed into the fountain and played the flute and saw what they were talking about. She found that her performance of the flute indeed made her look ugly, and so she threw away the flute in disgust, so much for her amazing invention. She also put a curse on the flute saying that whoever picked up the flute would have misfortune befall up on them. Marsyas would be the one to find the flute, and he would eventually challenge Apollo to a musical challenge which Apollo won, and upon victory he flayed Marsyas alive (now not only do his cheeks look puffy but he doesn’t have any skin, that’s two strikes for the flute). People credit Athena with the invention of the yoke, the bridle, the first sailing ship, and the trumpet.
More than any other of the Greek goddesses , Athena is the embodiment of modernism and civilization, with her reasoning, logic, applicable knowledge, and bountiful wisdom. Athena is the reminder to people that wit, intellect, and creativity can be used to solve and problem and achieve any goal.