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10 Athena Facts: Battles with Poseidon and a Beauty Contest

By Andy Watkins


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Athena was the daughter of the sky god Zeus and the Titan goddess Metis. She didn’t have any brothers or sisters but as the daughter of Zeus she had many half-brothers and half-sisters. These included Ares, Heracles and Apollo. She didn’t marry herself and didn’t have any children. In fact she was known as a virgin goddess.

Athena was the goddess of war craft, heroism, wise council and pottery. She would wear full armour, a shield and a helmet along with a spear to fight her enemies. Many warring states would choose to pray to Athena for good fortune because of her supreme wisdom and strategic mind. One of her most famous symbols is the olive tree.

She was generally thought of as a good Greek god and less vindictive than some of the others. On balance she could be described as protective, pure and intelligent.

  • Protective – In many of the Greek myths Athena intervenes in some way to help one of the major heroes or demigods. She was known to have helped Perseus, Bellerophon, Jason, Heracles and Odysseus at some point in their adventures. In the case of Heracles, Athena managed to calm Heracles down when he was afflicted with madness by Hera and to stop him from killing any more people.
  • Pure – Athena was one of 3 Olympian gods who didn’t take a lover. The others were Hestia and Artemis. They prided themselves of being pure and concerning themselves with other more important activities than the pursuit of male suitor.
  • Intelligent – Athena was an integral part of the Greeks war against the Trojans. She would give advice on basic strategy and inform them of weaknesses. She also was able to outsmart other gods in the Greek myths. She was feared for her depth of planning and was seen as a worthy adversary to many of the gods.

So that’s just a brief overview of Athena, lets now dive in further to some of the myths concerning her.

Athena Facts – Everything You’d Possibly Want to Know

  • One of the major symbols of Athena is the owl. In ancient Greece, much like today, the owl is seen as an embodiment of wisdom. In many of the depictions of Athena you can see the owl.
  • The Roman name for Athena was Minerva. The Roman goddess shared many of the same qualities as Athena from Greek mythology.
  • While Ares was seen as a god of war adopting an offensive strategy, Athena was more thought of as a defensive and patient goddess when involved in warfare. They were often pitted as rivals, in particular in the Trojan war, and Athena helped to wound Ares on two occasions.
  • Athena was thought of beautiful, but most agree she wasn’t the most beautiful of Greek goddess. This title is given to Aphrodite. In fact there was a contest between Athena, Hera and Aphrodite for who was the most beautiful. The judge was the Trojan prince Paris, and in the end he chose Aphrodite.
  • Athena is the goddess of the city of Athens in Greece. She would defend the city from other aggressive gods and would often attempt to intervene on the side of the Athenians in battle. She even gifted the city a famous olive tree to be planted within the city limits.
  • Athena was a favourite of Zeus and he even lent her the use of some of his weapons. There were the thunderbolts which she was taught to wield and throw at opponents, and there was also the famous shield called Aegis which she carried into battle.
  • When the Greek deserted the beaches of Troy and pretended to sail home they left a great wooden horse. This horse was said to be a gift and offering to the great goddess Athena. The Trojans took the horse back into the city and the rest is history.
  • There was a great battle called the Gigantomachy in which the Olympian gods took on the giants. Athena fought in this battle and she matched up against a giant called Enceladus. With the help of Heracles the gods killed the giants, and Enceladus was buried under the volcano of Mt. Etna.
  • Poseidon and Athena were always arguing. One of their biggest disagreements was over who would protect Athens. Poseidon originally gave the citizens a great spring in the centre of the city in order to woo them. However, Athena informed the people that the spring in fact only produced salt water. To replace this she gifted an olive tree and was accepted by the Athenians.
  • When Achilles was chasing Hector around the walls of the city of Troy, Athena caused Hector to stop and face Achilles. She did this by disguising herself as Deiphobus, the brother of Hector. With his brother by his side Hector had the confidence to take on Achilles. Now that Hector had stopped, Athena was then able to disappear.
About Andy Watkins

I have always been interested in mythology. From a very early age in Britain, I was known to sit at the breakfast table reading encyclopedias about many of the major world mythologies. Learn more about MythNerd's Editorial Process.

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