Who is Athena? Ancient Greek gods

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Birth of Athena

Birth of Athena

Athena is one of the younger Greek goddesses; she is Zeus‘s daughter. Her mother was Metis (Wisdom). The story is that Zeus swallowed Metis, already pregnant with Athena, and then 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. She doesn’t fall in love and she doesn’t have children.

Athena helps Herakles hold up the sky

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. And, because she’s so clever, she’s the goddess of crafts like weaving and pottery.

Myths about Athena: the stories of Arachne and Medusa, and the story of Hercules and Atlas. Athena also plays a big part in the Odyssey. She’s related to the Roman goddess Minerva.

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.

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By | 2017-07-12T23:22:20+00:00 July 12th, 2017|Greeks, Religion|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Who is Athena? Ancient Greek gods. Quatr.us Study Guides, July 12, 2017. Web. December 14, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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