Athena the Greek goddess of wisdom was the daughter of Zeus and of the Titaness Metis, who was a goddess of wisdom and thought herself. Her Roman counterpart is Minerva.
Most of the gods were born normally, but can you guess how was Athena born? Zeus was in love with Metis and so he married her (she was his first wife). But Gaia and Ouranus prophesized that, should Metis have first a daughter, after that she would have a son who would be more powerful than his father. Metis was already pregnant and Zeus was very afraid of losing his position as a ruler of the gods. He finally came with a "brilliant" idea: he just swallowed her and that's that!
But then he started to have horrible headaches, because the baby would continue to grow... inside his head. All the gods and the nymphs were gathered around him. Nobody could help him, except Hephaestus, who came with his hammer and split Zeus' head open. (Of course, what would a Greek myth be without versions? Others say it was Prometheus who struck Zeus's head). Athena jumped out fully grown up, clothed and armed, and gave a fiery cry that made the skies and the earth tremble. Her birth place is considered the river Triton.
Zeus was looking at his offspring feeling very proud of her. Even Hera looked admiringly. Athena's armour was most beautiful, it had many changing colours. Hephaestus was trying to figure out what kind of gift he could bring her, in order to gain her favous, but he couldnìt come up with anything, because she already had this marvellous armour.
Athena was also the goddess of warcraft, but she represented strategic war actions planned carefully and fighting for a good cause, and as such she was different from Ares, who fought for the sake of fighting and for the pure lust of bloodshed.
The Greek goddess Athena was also a goddess of the arts and literature and a patron of the female arts and crafts. She was the protector of weavers, spinners, embroiderers.
Athena and Poseidon had a contest for the city of Athens (which, at that time, didn't have a name yet). Poseidon struck the earth and made a salty spring, which he gave as a gift to the inhabitants. Athena the Greek goddess of wisdom made the olive tree, which gave people wood, oil and food. Her gift was very appreciated and she became the patron of the city, which took her name, thus becoming Athens.
At the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, when the golden apple was thrown in the middle of the guests by Eris, Athena was one of the three goddesses who claimed she was entitled to the apple (together with Aphrodite and Hera). After the judgement of Paris (you can read about it here), as she was not chosen, she decided to fight on the side of the Achaeans and against the Trojans.
For pictures of Athena the Greek goddess, click here.
-- to be continued --