Athena: Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom

Athena was the Greek Goddess of war and yet she was not known for her brutality or bullying behavior. Instead she was more of a strategist and a diplomat and was often called upon to mediate in several disputes and wars amongst the Gods. She owned no weapons of her own borrowing them instead from Zeus.

This Greek Goddess was also associated with domestic crafts

In Greek mythology, she was not just the Goddess of war she also taught Prometheus architecture, astrology, mathematics, medicine and navigation. Additionally she is accredited with the invention of spinning, weaving, the plough and rake.

She is the Patron Goddess of the city of Athens where her most famous statue is situated in the Parthenon.

This Goddess oversees the physical buildings and structures that protect the Greek people such as harbors, fortresses and law courts.

Athena assisted many of the Greek heroes in their quests including Perseus, Hercules, Odysseus and Jason.

Goddess Athena's Family: This Goddess had a very unusual birth as she sprung, fully grown from the head of her father, Zeus. He had swallowed her mother, Metis whole, fearing that like his father before him his position would be usurped by one of his children. Despite this inauspicious start to their relationship, Athena became Zeus's favorite child, so much so that he entrusted her with his shield the Aegis.

Athena's Siblings: She had lots of half brothers and sister's including: Aphrodite,  Apollo, Ares,  Artemis,  Hephaaestus, Hebe, Hermes, Persephone,  the Fates, the Graces, the Muses, Tityus. The number would be even greater if I included all of the children from her father's affairs with mortals.

In Libya where the war Goddess was also worshipped she was said to be the daughter of the Sea God, Poseidon and the lake Tritoris.

She herself never married. There are several myths where Athena defends her virginity when she receives unwelcome male attention. This is why the temple dedicated to her is called the Parthenon as the word means temple of the virgin in Greek.

Despite being a virgin she had a child named Erichthonius. He was born after a failed rape attempt when his father's seed fell upon the fertile earth.

Strengths: Rational, intelligent, a powerful defender and arbitrator.

Weaknesses: Too ruled by her head and out of touch with her emotions and feminine side. Unapproachable and lacking in compassion.

Athena's Roman Equivalent:  Minerva

Athena's Symbols

The Archetypal female Warrior, she is usually depicted wearing a helmet and a goat skin breastplate known as the Aegis. On this breastplate she mounted the terrifying head of the Goddess Medusa. In this engraving from a nineteenth century artist we can see Athena wearing a helmet and holding her owl. A plain shield leans up against her.

This Greek Goddess was referred to as the Goddess with bright eyes. Some scholars suggest that this supports the theory that in earlier times she was also a storm and lightening Goddess.

Sacred animals: Snakes form part of her famous statue.

Sacred birds: The owl is linked with Athena the Greek Goddess as it represents wisdom and watchfulness.

Sacred Plants: Mulberry, oak and olive trees. She is said to have created the very first olive tree.

Athena's Archetypes

The Warrior:

The Greek Goddess main Archetype is that of the female Warrior. This is illustrated by her role of patron and defender of Athens. She also became involved in the war against the giants and the siege of Troy. 

This Archetype represents physical strength, and the ability to protect and fight for your rights and those of of others.

The shadow side of the Warrior reflects the need to win at all costs, abandoning ethical principals to prove your supremacy. 

The Diplomat/Peacemaker

The Diplomat Archetype is able to mediate between different groups, as they are able to quickly assess the situation, understanding both sides point of view. Helping them to find a middle ground upon which they can both agree.

The Shadow Diplomat manipulates both sides to achieve their own personal agenda.

This may seem a strange archetype for the Goddess of war, however Athena was able to avert several wars through the use of her diplomatic and negotiating skills. She sometimes became embroiled in arguments herself, including the one with Posiedon to claim Athens when Zeus had to step in and appoint a group of arbiters. 

In Greek mythology this Goddess is the protector and advisor of the heroes Hercules, Perseus and Ulysses. With Perseus for example she leant him her shield to enable him to use it's shiny reflection to see the image of Medusa and kill her without being turned to stone.

The Teacher/ Inventor:

The Teacher and Inventor communicates knowledge, experience and wisdom.

In it's shadow aspect, the Teacher may manipulate and mislead their students by indoctrinating them with negative beliefs and destructive behaviours.

As an Inventor this Goddess is said to have taught women how to spin and weave. However, it is in this role that we see the teachers shadow side in her need to control her "students." Athena refused to allow Arachne skill to surpass her own. When Arachne foolishly boasted about the fine cloth she had created, Athena turned her into a spider.

In agriculture, Athena is accredited with designing the first plough, rake and a yoke to enable farmers to harness the power of horses. She also gave mankind the olive tree.

Please follow this link to the Archetypes page to discover which other Goddess Archetypes resonate with you.

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