• [51][134] Pausanias records that, during the Arrhephoria, two young girls known as the Arrhephoroi, who lived near the temple of Athena Polias, would be given hidden objects
    by the priestess of Athena,[135] which they would carry on their heads down a natural underground passage.

  • [113][114] Pallas Athena Detail of a Roman fresco from Pompeii showing Ajax the Lesser dragging Cassandra away from the palladion during the fall of Troy, an event which provoked
    Athena’s wrath against the Greek armies[115] Athena’s epithet Pallas is derived either from, meaning “to brandish [as a weapon]”, or, more likely, from and related words, meaning “youth, young woman”.

  • She was known as Athena Parthenos “Athena the Virgin,” but in one archaic Attic myth, the god Hephaestus tried and failed to rape her, resulting in Gaia giving birth to Erichthonius,
    an important Athenian founding hero.

  • The second-century AD Christian apologist Justin Martyr takes issue with those pagans who erect at springs images of Kore, whom he interprets as Athena: “They said that Athena
    was the daughter of Zeus not from intercourse, but when the god had in mind the making of a world through a word (logos) his first thought was Athena.

  • [129][130] The Roman mythographer Hyginus[111] records a similar story in which Hephaestus demanded Zeus to let him marry Athena since he was the one who had smashed open
    Zeus’s skull, allowing Athena to be born.

  • [46] Burkert notes that the Athenians sometimes simply called Athena “the Goddess”, certainly an ancient title.

  • Along with Aphrodite and Hera, Athena was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War.

  • Another possible meaning may be “triple-born” or “third-born”, which may refer to a triad or to her status as the third daughter of Zeus or the fact she was born from Metis,
    Zeus, and herself; various legends list her as being the first child after Artemis and Apollo, though other legends identify her as Zeus’ first child.

  • [86][87] Janda further connects the myth of Athena being born of the head (i. e. the uppermost part) of Zeus, understanding Trito- (which perhaps originally meant “the third”)
    as another word for “the sky”.

  • “[25] Ancient Akkadian cylinder seal (dating c. 2334–2154 BC) depicting Inanna, the goddess of war, armored and carrying weapons, resting her foot on the back of a lion[26]
    It is generally agreed that the cult of Athena preserves some aspects of the Proto-Indo-European transfunctional goddess.

  • [61][40] This epithet may refer to the fact that cult statue held there may have been made of bronze,[61] that the walls of the temple itself may have been made of bronze,[61]
    or that Athena was the patron of metal-workers.

  • [15] Although Athana potnia is often translated as “Mistress Athena”, it could also mean “the Potnia of Athana”, or the Lady of Athens.

  • [11][12] Nilsson and others have claimed that, in early times, Athena was either an owl herself or a bird goddess in general.

  • [80] It could mean various things, including “Triton-born”, perhaps indicating that the homonymous sea-deity was her parent according to some early myths.

  • Athena was probably a pre-Hellenic goddess and was later taken over by the Greeks.

  • [101][102] According to this version of the story, Metis transformed into many different shapes in effort to escape Zeus,[101][102] but Zeus successfully raped her and swallowed

  • [86] Yet another possible meaning is mentioned in Diogenes Laertius’ biography of Democritus, that Athena was called “Tritogeneia” because three things, on which all mortal
    life depends, come from her.

  • [104][96][91][106] The “First Homeric Hymn to Athena” states in lines 9–16 that the gods were awestruck by Athena’s appearance[107] and even Helios, the god of the sun, stopped
    his chariot in the sky.

  • “[5] In later times, after the original meaning of the name had been forgotten, the Greeks invented myths to explain its origin, such as those reported by the Epicurean philosopher
    Philodemus and the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, which claim that Pallas was originally a separate entity, whom Athena had slain in combat.

  • [62] Epithets and attributes See also: Category:Epithets of Athena Cult statue of Athena with the face of the Carpegna type (late 1st century BC to early 1st century AD),
    from the Piazza dell’Emporio, Rome Bust of the Velletri Pallas type, copy after a votive statue of Kresilas in Athens (c. 425 BC) Athena was known as Atrytone (“the Unwearying”), Parthenos (“Virgin”), and Promachos (“she who fights in front”).

  • [27][28] The cult of Athena may have also been influenced by those of Near Eastern warrior goddesses such as the East Semitic Ishtar and the Ugaritic Anat,[10] both of whom
    were often portrayed bearing arms.

  • [124] Lady of Athens The Dispute of Minerva and Neptune by René-Antoine Houasse (c. 1689 or 1706) In Homer’s Iliad, Athena, as a war goddess, inspired and fought alongside
    the Greek heroes; her aid was synonymous with military prowess.

  • [f] Based on these similarities, the Sinologist Martin Bernal created the “Black Athena” hypothesis, which claimed that Neith was brought to Greece from Egypt, along with
    “an enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia”.

  • [43] During the late fifth century BC, the role of goddess of philosophy became a major aspect of Athena’s cult.

  • [117] In one version of the myth, Pallas was the daughter of the sea-god Triton;[81] she and Athena were childhood friends, but Athena accidentally killed her during a friendly
    sparring match.

  • She was also a warrior goddess, and was believed to lead soldiers into battle as Athena Promachos.

  • [104][12][119][120] In an alternative variation of the same myth, Pallas was instead Athena’s father,[104][12] who attempted to assault his own daughter,[121] causing Athena
    to kill him and take his skin as a trophy.

  • In the founding myth of Athens, Athena bested Poseidon in a competition over patronage of the city by creating the first olive tree.

  • [20] A Mycenean fresco depicts two women extending their hands towards a central figure, who is covered by an enormous figure-eight shield; this may depict the warrior-goddess
    with her palladion, or her palladion in an aniconic representation.

  • In the later writings of the Roman poet Ovid, Athena was said to have competed against the mortal Arachne in a weaving competition, afterward transforming Arachne into the
    first spider; Ovid also describes how she transformed Medusa into a Gorgon after witnessing her being raped by Poseidon in her temple.

  • [97][100][96][99] A later account of the story from the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, written in the second century AD, makes Metis Zeus’s unwilling sexual partner, rather
    than his wife.

  • [6] In ancient times, scholars argued whether Athena was named after Athens or Athens after Athena.

  • Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence and therefore gave her the name Etheonoe; which, however,
    either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form, and called her Athena.

  • Marinus of Neapolis reports that when Christians removed the statue of the goddess from the Parthenon, a beautiful woman appeared in a dream to Proclus, a devotee of Athena,
    and announced that the “Athenian Lady” wished to dwell with him.

  • [46] Some have described Athena, along with the goddesses Hestia and Artemis as being asexual, this is mainly supported by the fact that in the Homeric Hymns, 5, To Aphrodite,
    where Aphrodite is described as having “no power” over the three goddesses.

  • [80] One myth relates the foster father relationship of this Triton towards the half-orphan Athena, whom he raised alongside his own daughter Pallas.

  • [12] Classical scholar Charles Penglase notes that Athena resembles Inanna in her role as a “terrifying warrior goddess”[29] and that both goddesses were closely linked with

  • [29] Athena’s birth from the head of Zeus may be derived from the earlier Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent into and return from the Underworld.

  • Fairbanks), the third-century AD Greek rhetorician Philostratus the Elder writes that Hera “rejoices” at Athena’s birth “as though Athena were her daughter also.”

  • Athena[b] or Athene,[c] often given the epithet Pallas,[d] is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare[3] who was later syncretized with the
    Roman goddess Minerva.

  • [4] Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens, from which she most likely received her name.

  • [56] According to Karl Kerényi, a scholar of Greek mythology, the name Parthenos is not merely an observation of Athena’s virginity, but also a recognition of her role as
    enforcer of rules of sexual modesty and ritual mystery.

  • The second-century AD orator Aelius Aristides attempted to derive natural symbols from the etymological roots of Athena’s names to be air, earth, and moon.

  • For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athena “mind” and “intelligence” and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion
    about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, “divine intelligence”as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God.

  • [71][72] The Greek biographer Plutarch (AD 46–120) refers to an instance during the Parthenon’s construction of her being called Athena Hygieia (i. e. personified “Health”)
    after inspiring a physician to a successful course of treatment.

  • [5][7] The name of the city in ancient Greek is a plural toponym, designating the place where—according to myth—she presided over the Athenai, a sisterhood devoted to her

  • Similarly, in the Greek mythology and epic tradition, Athena figures as a daughter of Zeus (Dyeus).

  • In the classical Olympian pantheon, Athena was regarded as the favorite daughter of Zeus, born fully armed from his forehead.

  • [123] The statue had special talisman-like properties[123] and it was thought that, as long as it was in the city, Troy could never fall.

  • [56] Kerényi’s study and theory of Athena explains her virginal epithet as a result of her relationship to her father Zeus and a vital, cohesive piece of her character throughout
    the ages.

  • [135] The ritual was performed in the dead of night[135] and no one, not even the priestess, knew what the objects were.

  • [92][93][94] The earliest mention is in Book V of the Iliad, when Ares accuses Zeus of being biased in favor of Athena because “autos egeinao” (literally “you fathered her”,
    but probably intended as “you gave birth to her”).

  • “Athena, by the time she appears in art,” Jane Ellen Harrison remarks, “has completely shed her animal form, has reduced the shapes she once wore of snake and bird to attributes,
    but occasionally in black-figure vase-paintings she still appears with wings.

  • [88] Mythology Birth Athena is “born” from Zeus’s forehead as a result of him having swallowed her mother Metis, as he grasps the clothing of Eileithyia on the right; black-figured
    amphora, 550–525 BC, Louvre.

  • [5] Now scholars generally agree that the goddess takes her name from the city;[5][7] the ending -ene is common in names of locations, but rare for personal names.

  • [5] Testimonies from different cities in ancient Greece attest that similar city goddesses were worshipped in other cities[6] and, like Athena, took their names from the cities
    where they were worshipped.

  • [85] Michael Janda has connected the myth of Trita to the scene in the Iliad in which the “three brothers” Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades divide the world between them, receiving
    the “broad sky”, the sea, and the underworld respectively.

  • Western artists and allegorists have often used Athena as a symbol of freedom and democracy.

  • [32] Neith was the ancient Egyptian goddess of war and hunting, who was also associated with weaving; her worship began during the Egyptian Pre-Dynastic period.

  • [57] Regional cults Reverse side of a Pergamene silver tetradrachm minted by Attalus I, showing Athena seated on a throne (c. 200 BC) Athena was not only the patron goddess
    of Athens, but also other cities, including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa.

  • [56] This role is expressed in a number of stories about Athena.

  • — Plato, Cratylus 407b Thus, Plato believed that Athena’s name was derived from Greek Atheonóa—which the later Greeks rationalised as from the deity’s (,theós) mind.

  • [19] This could be connected with the Linear B Mycenaean expressions and Diwia, “of Zeus” or, possibly, related to a homonymous goddess),[15] resulting in a translation “Athena
    of Zeus” or “divine Athena”.

  • [112] Fragments attributed by the Christian Eusebius of Caesarea to the semi-legendary Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, which Eusebius thought had been written before the
    Trojan war, make Athena instead the daughter of Cronus, a king of Byblos who visited “the inhabitable world” and bequeathed Attica to Athena.

  • [6] For example, in Mycenae there was a goddess called Mykene, whose sisterhood was known as Mykenai,[6] whereas at Thebes an analogous deity was called Thebe, and the city
    was known under the plural form Thebai (or Thebes, in English, where the ‘s’ is the plural formation).

  • [8] In his dialogue Cratylus, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428–347 BC) gives some rather imaginative etymologies of Athena’s name, based on the theories of the ancient
    Athenians and his own etymological speculations: That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients.

  • From her origin as an Aegean palace goddess, Athena was closely associated with the city.

  • She was the daughter of Zeus, produced without a mother, so that she emerged full-grown from his forehead.

  • [128] Many of the surviving sculptures of Athena show this serpent.

  • [67][68] The word aíthyia signifies a “diver”, also some diving bird species (possibly the shearwater) and figuratively, a “ship”, so the name must reference Athena teaching
    the art of shipbuilding or navigation.

  • [9] Origins Athena was originally the Aegean goddess of the palace, who presided over household crafts and protected the king.


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[‘In other traditions, Athena’s father is sometimes listed as Zeus by himself or Pallas, Brontes, or Itonos.
2. ^ /əˈθiːnə/; Attic Greek: Athēnâ, or Athēnaía; Epic: Athēnaíē; Doric: Athā́nā
3. ^ /əˈθiːniː/; Ionic: Athḗnē
4. ^ /ˈpæləs/; Pallás
5. ^
“The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athena; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to
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6. ^ Aeschylus, Eumenides, v. 292 f. Cf. the tradition that she was the daughter of Neilos: see, e. g. Clement of Alexandria Protr. 2.28.2; Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.59.
7. ^ “This sanctuary had been respected from early
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8. ^ Jane Ellen Harrison’s famous characterization of this myth-element as, “a desperate theological expedient to rid an
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9. ^ The owl’s role as a symbol of wisdom originates in this association with Athena.
10. ^ According to Homer, Iliad 1.570–579, 14.338,
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11. ^ According to Hesiod, Theogony 927–929, Hephaestus was produced by Hera alone, with no father, see Gantz, p. 74.
12. ^ According to Hesiod, Theogony 183–200,
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130. ^ New Pauly s.v. Pallas
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163. ^
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