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Fast Facts on Athena & her Parthenon

Greek Goddess of Wisdom


Close-Up of Athena Statue
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Just who is Athena? Here is a quick look at Athena, goddess of wisdom, queen and namesake, as Athena Parthenos, of the Parthenon - and sometimes, of war.

Parthenon Picture Gallery
Athena's Appearance: A young woman wearing a helmet and holding a shield, often accompanied by a small owl. A huge statue of Athena depicted this way once stood in the Parthenon.

Athena's Symbol or Attribute: The Owl, signifying watchfulness and wisdom; the aegis (small shield) showing the snaky head of Medusa.

Athena's Strengths: Rational, intelligent, a powerful defender in war but also a potent peacemaker.

Athena's Weaknesses: Reason rules her; she is not usually emotional or compassionate but she does have her favorites, such as the beleaguered heroes Odysseus and Perseus.

Birthplace of Athena: From the forehead of her father Zeus. It is possible this refers to the mountain of Juktas on the island of Crete, which appears to be a profile of Zeus lying on the ground, his forehead forming the highest part of the mountain. A temple on top of the mountain may have been the real "birthplace".

Athena's Parents: Metis and Zeus.

Athena's Siblings: Any child of Zeus had numerous half-brothers and half-sisters. Athena is related to dozens, if not hundreds, of other children of Zeus, including Hercules, Dionysos, and many others.

Athena's Spouse: None. However, she was very fond of the hero Odysseus and helped him whenever she could on his long journey home.

Athena's Children: None.

Some Major Temple Sites for Athena: The city of Athens, which is named after her. The Parthenon is her best-known, and best-preserved, temple.

Basic Story for Athena: Athena was born fully-armed from the forehead of her father Zeus - according to one story, this is because he swallowed her mother, Metis, while she was pregnant with Athena. Although Zeus's daughter, she could also oppose his plans and conspire against him, though she generally supported him.

Athena and her uncle, the sea god Poseidon, competed for the affections of the Greeks, each providing one gift to the nation. Poseidon provided either a wonderful horse or a salt-water spring rising from the slopes of the Acropolis, but Athena provided the olive tree, giving shade, oil, and olives. The Greeks preferred her gift and named the city after her and built the Parthenon on the Acropolis where Athena is believed to have produced the first olive tree.

Interesting Fact about Athena: One of her epithets (titles) is "Grey-eyed". Her gift to the Greeks was the useful olive tree. The underside of the olive tree's leaf is grey, and when the wind lifts the leaves, it shows Athena's many "eyes".

Athena is also a shapeshifter. In the Odyssey, she transforms herself into a bird and also takes on the form of Mentor, a friend of Odysseus', to give him some special advice without revealing herself.

Alternate Names for Athena: In Roman mythology, the goddess closest to Athena is called Minerva. Athena's name is sometimes spelled Athina or Athene. Go on to Page Two: Fast Facts on the Parthenon

Planning your trip to Greece? Flights To and Around Greece: Find and compare Athens and Other Greece Flights - The airport code for Athens International Airport is ATH.

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More Fast Facts on Greek Gods and Goddesses:

The 12 Olympians - Gods and Goddesses - Greek Gods and Goddesses - Temple Sites - The Titans - Aphrodite - Apollo - Ares - Artemis - Atalanta - Athena - Centaurs - Cyclopes - Demeter- Dionysos - Eros - Gaia - Hades - Helios - Hephaestus - Hera - Hercules - Hermes - Kronos - The Kraken - Medusa - Nike - Pan- Pandora - Pegasus - Persephone - Perseus - Poseidon - Rhea - Selene - Zeus.
Pictures of other Greek Gods and Goddesses: Greek Deities Clip Art Images
Find books on Greek Mythology: Top Picks on Books on Greek Mythology

Plan Your Own Trip to Greece

Flights To and Around Greece: Athens and Other Greece Flights at Travelocity - The airport code for Athens International Airport is ATH.

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