Who is Athena? - Greek Goddess Athena
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Who is Athena?

athens steps out of the head of zeus
Birth of Athena

Athena is one of the younger Greek goddesses; she is Zeus's daughter. She has no mother. The story is that Athena was born, fully grown and armed, out of the head of Zeus. One day Zeus complained that he had a headache, and Hephaistos came and banged him on the head with an axe and out popped Athena!

Athena has no husband either. She doesn't fall in love and she doesn't have children.

Athena and Hercules
Athena helps Herakles hold up the sky

Athena is the goddess of wisdom; her symbol is the owl (the wise bird). She's the patron goddess of the city of Athens, and her owl appears on Athenian silver coins. She is also a war goddess, which is why she is usually shown fully armed, with her shield and sword.

Myths about Athena: the stories of Arachne and Medusa. Athena also plays a big part in the Odyssey.

Learn by doing: making coins with Athena's owl
More about Zeus

Bibliography and further reading about Athena:

Bright-Eyed Athena: Stories from Ancient Greece, by Richard Woff.

Athena, by Blake Hoena. Easy reading.

We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera by Doris Orgel and Marilee Heyer. With a more feminist view.

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire.

Greek Religion, by Walter Burkert (reprinted 1987). By a leading expert. He has sections on each of the Greek gods, and discusses their deeper meanings, and their function in Greek society.

More about the Greek gods
Ancient Greece
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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