Athena: Goddess of Wisdom in Greek Mythology


     Athena was the Greek Goddess of wisdom and in Roman Mythology she was also called Minerva. Was born directly from Zeus' brain and is also her father's most beloved goddess.

Athena in Greek Mythology:

     Athena, also known as Palas Athena is, in Greek Mythology, the goddess of civilization, wisdom, and battle strategy, arts, justice and skill. One of the main deities of the Greek pantheon and one of the twelve Olympic gods, Athena was worshiped throughout Ancient Greece and throughout its area of ​​influence, from the Greek colonies of Asia Minor to those of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. 

     Its presence is attested even in the vicinity of India. That is why his cult took many forms, in addition to his figure being syncretized with several other deities from the regions around the Mediterranean, expanding the variety of forms of worship.

     The most current version of her myth gives her as a parthenogenic daughter of Zeus, born from his fully armed head. He never married or took lovers, maintaining a perpetual virginity. He was unbeatable in war, even Ares was no match. She was patron of several cities, but she became better known as the protector of Athens and all of Attica. It also protected several heroes and other mythical figures, appearing in a large number of episodes in mythology.

Athens in the Greek Thought:

     She was one of the most represented goddesses in Greek art and her symbolism had a profound influence on Greek thought, especially in the concepts related to justice, wisdom and the civilizing function of culture and the arts, whose reflections are still visible today. the whole west. His image has undergone several transformations over the centuries, incorporating new attributes, interacting with new contexts and influencing other symbolic figures; it was used by various political regimes to legitimize its principles, and even penetrated popular culture. 

     His intriguing gender identity has been of special appeal to writers linked to feminism and psychology and some contemporary religious currents have returned to worship him. His brothers are: Artemis, Muse, Cárites, Ares, Apolo, Dioniso, Hebe, Hermes, Heracles, Helena, Hefesto, Minos, Perseus, Poro

Athena Ericnotius:

     Herse, Pandroso and Aglauros, the three daughters of the king of Attica Cécrope I, received from Athena a closed box, forbidding them to look inside. Pandroso obeyed, but the other two did not, and they went crazy when they saw Erictônio, throwing himself from the steepest part of the acropolis. Erictonius was the son of Athena and Hephaestus.

     According to Jerónimo de Estridão, Erictónio was the son of Vulcan and Minerva, and he reigned from 1,437 B.C. to 1,487 B.C., being preceded by Amphicto and succeeded by Pandião I.

     Pseudo-Apollodore, after presenting Erictónio as son of Hephaestus and Attis, daughter of Cranau, explains the alternative version of how he could be son of Athena, being a virgin Athena: Athena had approached Hephaestus, desirous of the weapons he manufactured, when, rejected by Aphrodite, Hephaestus falls in love with Athena. He chases her, but she runs away, and when he manages to grab her, she doesn't allow sex, and Hephaestus ejaculates on Athena's thigh. Disgusted, she cleans herself, and makes the semen fall to the floor, and from there Erictónio is born.

     After Erictónio was born, Athena created him, hidden from the other gods, and placed him in a chest, handing him over to Pandroso, daughter of Cécrope I, and forbidding her to open the chest. But his curious sisters opened it and saw a snake coiled around the baby. According to some authors, they were killed by the snake, according to others, they went mad because of Athena's wrath and threw themselves off the acropolis.

Cult Athena:

     The Greek Goddess Athena had her most important center of worship in Athens, the city of which she was the patron, a protection extended to all of Attica. In many places Athena was worshiped in association with other deities and heroes, such as Erictonius, Hephaestus, Poseidon, Demeter and Theseus. In the rites that were associated with legal functions, it was often served with Zeus. But it was not limited to Attica, on the contrary, as an urban goddess par excellence, protector of cities, Athena's presence is attested almost all around the Mediterranean Sea, penetrating the east to Persia. 

     Her attributes and her cult thus knew infinite variations, which makes it impossible to define them as homogeneous. In fact, as Deacy noted, there were as many Athena as there were cities that adopted her in their religions, and dozens of them are recorded where Athena was not only worshiped, but had become the chief deity. However, it is worth detailing the cult in Athens and its surroundings, where it acquired an exceptional importance.


     The Plinteria festival was centered on the annual cleaning of the oldest and most sacred of the images of the goddess preserved on the acropolis, the Palladium, which was honored with a perpetual fire and according to tradition had been captured by the Greeks who fought in Troy. It was performed by a small group of priestesses at the new moon between late May and early June, out of public view, in a propitiatory and purifying ceremony that ended an agricultural cycle and magically prepared the next cycle.

     Apparently the rite took place all over the acropolis, and started with the removal of his mantle, followed by the placing of a veil over the naked statue and washing of the mantle; a day or two later the image itself was washed, received its clean robe and was adorned with a gold crown and other precious ornaments, in addition to possibly being anointed with oil. The washing of the statue was associated with the birth of the goddess and recounted the first celebrations dedicated to Athena in time immemorial. The festival was repeated throughout Attica and several other Greek locations, with many variations, but all the remaining descriptions of Greek rites are poor in detail. Also the time of year when Plinteria was celebrated could vary according to local customs.

In Others Religions:

     Some examples of their worship in other regions can give an idea of ​​their diversity. In Lindos, on the island of Rhodes, which, like many places, claimed to be Athena's birthplace, his sacrifices had the peculiarity of being carried out without fire. In Argos Plinthia was held not at the local acropolis, but a statue of Athena was carried in procession to the river and undressed and bathed there. Men were prevented from watching, as they could incur Athena's wrath and be blind if they saw her naked. In Libya, their rites were associated with those of the aquatic nymph Tritonis and were performed by priestesses dressed in armor.

     In Thebes she was worshiped as a city goddess but had no temple, and the ceremonies took place in front of a statue and altar in the open air. In Coroneia she was a goddess of peace, poetry and vegetation, and her cult was linked to the underworld, adored with Hades. In classical times practically everywhere, the cult of Athena was characterized by having a civilized character by the standards of the time, without signs of orgiastic or barbaric features, coinciding with the progressive purification of the myth that made her a perennial virgin goddess, but there are reports on the survival of rather rude practices in some isolated places, where human sacrifices were destined to appease his wrath, recalling episodes of the myth, such as when the furious goddess would have thrown the Cécrops daughters from the acropolis rock for disobeying his orders, or when Cassandra's outrage avenged. It seems that until the fourth century BC, human sacrifices were still made in a rite that linked Lócris and Troia.

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