Athena is best known for being the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Unlike her half brother Ares, she represented courage and strength in battle and also excelled in the more strategic forms of warfare. Though she is usually shown dressed in full body armor, Athena was generally open to finding peaceful solutions to the world’s many conflicts.
Athena also ruled over all aspects of handicrafts, and was especially revered for the beautifully woven patterns that were skillfully produced upon her loom. She was the patron goddess of artisans and craftsmen, and was also credited with inventing both the plow and the earthenware pot.
The goddess is often found in the company of her mascot, a wise old owl, which for centuries has stood to represent wisdom and intellectual thought. Like her half sister Artemis, Athena also chose to avoid contact with men and lived a life of celibacy.
Athena was one of the most popular members of the Greek pantheon and is commonly found in many of the ancient tales. Below you will find some of my favorites.
The Birth of Athena
Metis was the Titan goddess of wisdom and cunning thought. She was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and is often considered to be the earliest wife of her cousin Zeus. During the time when Cronus reigned as king, it was prophesied to him that he, like his father Uranus would meet his demise at the hands of one of his children. In order to prevent the prophecy from coming true, Cronus took to swallowing each child as soon as it was born.
Growing tired of this, Rhea, the wife of Cronus, decided to outsmart her husband. After giving birth to her youngest son Zeus, the distraught mother hid the baby safely away on the island of Crete. She then placed a child-sized stone in a tightly wrapped blanket and gave it to Cronus to swallow.
Under the care of the goat nymph Amalthea, Zeus quickly grew to manhood. When he was fit and strong, the young god departed Crete and set out to conquer his father.
In order to help Zeus achieve his goal, Metis prepared a magical potion for Cronus to drink. The concoction was so bitter tasting that the Titan instantly vomited up all of the children that he held inside of his stomach; Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. The newly freed siblings all joined forces with their brother Zeus, and together put an end to Cronus’ reign of tyranny.
Once Zeus became king he decided that it would be most beneficial to have Metis as his wife. Her unparalleled intelligence combined with her shrewd way of thinking could only prove to be advantageous to him. Metis tried to avoid the god’s advances by changing herself into a variety of different shapes and forms, but Zeus’ unrelenting persistence ultimately paid off and the tired goddess reluctantly gave in to his demands.