Greek Gods are enigmatic and mysterious and there is much we don’t know about them. Whatever we do know is shrouded in myth and folklore that borders between fact and fiction. The mythological aspects of Greek Gods are interwoven with historical facts so closely, that even after thousands of years we still keep trying to unravel the mystery.
Take for example the Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. She is worshipped all across the world for her benevolence but then again, she was also responsible for feeding a man’s horses magical water that made them attack their own master and consume him whole. She did that just because he refused her amorous advances. This means the Gods and Goddesses of Greek mythology were complex and had shades of grey or should we say humanity in them.
Athena, daughter of Zeus
Athena was considered the favourite daughter of the almighty Zeus. She is also regarded as the Goddess of war and wisdom and patroness of Athens. But Athena was also a very crafty and cruel Goddess at times.
What made her even more famous in the annals of mythology is the fact that she was instrumental in the creation of heroes like Hercules, Perseus and Odysseus. On a more domestic scale she is also considered the patron saint of sewing, and cooking, she was a skilled and courageous immortal ready to bend rules when needed.
She represents a unique form of intelligence
Her acute wisdom and intelligence bordered on being cunning and unscrupulous at times for which there is a Greek term called “metis”. According to professors at Stanford University, her wisdom was not strictly of great knowledge but more of acute skill and practicality.
She could judge any situation and figure out what shrewd moves to make. It’s through that “metis “that sailors could steer their ships just before a collision, or warriors could command their chariots in the nick of time, or even create colossal carpentry masterpieces like the Trojan Horse. According to mythology, Athena taught the carpenter Epeios how to make it!
Athena is the Greek equivalent to the Roman Minerva
Historian Richard P Martin attempted to correct this popular misconception about Athena that she was dull, boring, abstract, and rather neutral. He says these were allegorical comparisons which Romans started to make with their own Goddess Minerva. Athena was much more than that.
The story of her origins is quite bizarre
As far as the legend goes, Zeus had impregnated a Goddess “Metis” whose name as we have already discussed reflected her nature to be intelligent to the extent of cunning. He later realized that her daughter would be super intelligent and much stronger than him and who would eventually overthrow him! So, he did what any self-respecting power-hungry God would do. He swallowed the pregnant Goddess, which gave him a great headache. He then asked his son Hephaestus to split his head in two and voila!! out came a fully grown and armed Athena!
Athena had a hand in the slaying of Medusa
Well no one can blame her to be a bad sister because when her half mortal brother Perseus was supposed to slay Medusa who could turn people into stone, she came all out to help him.
With her fellow God Hermes, she gifted Perseus with winged sandals, the helmet of Hades, and her own shield so that Perseus could always see Medusa’s approach in the reflection. She also gave him a special tote bag to carry the head of Medusa when she guided Perseus hands to take her head and keep it in a satchel.
She’s a “Shark Tank”-worthy Inventor
The sheer number of useful and practical tools and artifacts that Athena invented could put Thomas Edison to shame. Farmers can thank her for inventing tools like the plough, rake, yoke and bridle. She is also credited with inventing defence, megaprojects like ships and chariots for trade.
Coming back to the domestic arena, she is credited for the creation of earthen pots for cooking and flute and trumpets for music! Apart from creating the art of spinning, weaving, and cooking, she was the one who actually introduced the science of teaching mathematics!
Athena was a crafty warrior
The art of war or rather the “craft” of war was Athena’s forte which displayed her extreme intelligence and prowess. According to historians of warfare, military strategy, attack plans, tactics and strategy comes directly from her. So, if having someone of her skill and calibre on your side during Wars would instantly mean that there never would have been any wars at all!
Her birthday was considered a big deal in Ancient Greece
Her birthday which was celebrated in late July was always carried out with great pomp and show. Huge processions paraded out to the Parthenon where her temple is located and now known as the Acropolis.
According to historians, a humongous woven cloth, which is as big as the sail of a boat was hoisted on the mast of a ship, this was wheeled like a carriage as part of the procession, much like modern floats in parades. It was later folded up and deposited in her temple, as a birthday gift from the people of Athens and Greece.
What’s interesting about Athena
Athena was a famous virgin Goddess who never married or had kids of her own, well technically. But according to the legend, Athena once visited the workshop of Hephaestus, the God of fire and blacksmiths. Hephaestus smitten with her tried to molest her but she managed to escape even as drops of his bodily fluids fell on her thigh. She quickly wiped it with a piece of wool and threw it on the ground.
But legend has it that through the discarded fluid, a son called Erichthonius was born. Greek historians still debate if he was truly Athena’s son or the son of Gaia who in Greek mythology is mother earth or the personification of the Earth.