Pandora’s stories: Athena

Pandora

Pandora

Mourning Athena

Mourning Athena

Many stories are told about the goddess Athena. The daughter of Metis and Zeus, she is said to have emerged fully armed from the head of Zeus. How? Well, Zeus had eaten Metis to stop her giving birth to a child who might be cleverer than him. Soon he had a headache, so sent for Hephaestus to help. Hephaestus opened his skull with an axe to relieve the pressure, and out came Athena. She carried the aegis, which struck fear into men who saw it. She was an inspiration to both artists and warriors since she combined her mother’s brains and her father’s strength.

Many cities chose her as their patron, including Athens, Sparta and even distant Troy. She was also a helper of heroes, like Achilles and Odysseus. Remember how she speaks to Odysseus in the Odyssey:

We are two of a kind, contrivers both. Of all the men alive you are the best in plots and story telling. My own fame is for wisdom among the gods – deceptions too. Would even you have guessed that I am Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, I who am always with you in times of trial, a shield to you in battle?

When you are older and join the great procession through the city up to her temple, you may be lucky enough to see her: three statues show her different sides.

Athena Parthenos

Athena Parthenos

 

 

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