Worker Woman for the People
Zeus was the King of the Greek Gods and of his 140 children; Athena would have been considered his most beloved. She was the goddess of many things such as war, wisdom, handicrafts and industry. Athena was the daughter of Zeus and the Nymph, Metis, as well as half sister to gods Ares, Apollo and Artemis. Her home rested on Mount Olympus; the divine home of the Greek Gods which is where Zeus also lived (Bryant 30). She had many other names including her Roman name Minerva, Boulia, Polias and Parthenos (Sacks 57). Some epithets for her include Goddess of the Council, Goddess of the City and the Worker Woman (goddess-athena.org). Athena's wisdom and preference to help the morally right is characterized in the way she was born, in her battle with her brother Ares, in her powers and weapons, and in her patronage. It is Athena’s wisdom and preference to help the morally right that made her a favorite deity to mortals.

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Scene of Athena's birth.

Athena was born in a rare way, just as rare as herself. Being the Goddess of Wisdom, it was symbolic that she was born from her father’s head. When she was still in her mother’s womb, Zeus received a foretelling that one day he would have a son who would surpass him and become Lord of Heaven. To be sure he would remain the King of Gods; Zeus ingested his wife so she could not give birth to a son. Zeus asked his friend Hephaestus, the Blacksmith God, to divide his head in half with an axe due to a headache. Once Zeus’s head was split open, Athena jumped out of his head already the size of an adult and clothed (Crane). In Greek artifacts, Athena’s delivery was commonly painted on vases (Briar College).




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The goddess of wisdom and war, Athena.
The most controversial family clash was between Athena and Ares, the god of war. Both Athena and Ares were
deities of war. Athena, since she was also the goddess of wisdom, was more into the tactics of war while Ares, on the other hand, was just into the pleasure of warfare. Since Ares liked the pleasure of warfare he leaned toward the savage sides while Athena sided with the group who she felt was morally right. During the Trojan War, Athena helped the Greeks, who had lost Helen to the Trojans, and Ares assisted the Trojans, who would not give her back. It is not common knowledge that Athena was in fact the one to come up with the idea of the Trojan horse for most believe it was Odysseus (Bryant 33). Who knows if the Greeks would have won the Trojan War without her?



The Goddess of Wisdom and War was blessed with many powers and skills which gave her plenty of advantages over her enemies. Although Athena is beloved by many people, she had quite a few rivals including; Arachne, Poseidon, Ares, Hephaestus and the Trojans. An example of Athena’s great powers is the event of Athena versus Arachne, a mortal. One of Athena’s many skills was handicrafts including weaving. When Arachne bragged of her skills, Athena challenged her to conclude who the best weaver was. However, when she realized Arachne was indeed
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Athena turning Odysseus into an old beggar.
the outstanding weaver she bragged about, she turned Arachne into a spider (Bryant 34). Other events where Athena used her powers were to help Odysseus, Hercules and Perseus who were her allies. In the book, The Odyssey, Athena helped Odysseus, King of Ithaca, with his homecoming after being away from home for 20 years. She used her powers to mask Odysseus as an old beggar to avoid people from recognizing him, especially the suitors who were after his wife Penelope (Homer, Book 16). Multiple times, Athena helped and saved Hercules who was the half brother of Athena and a mortal. She helped him during his Labors which were his consequences for murdering his family (Crane). Medusa’s head is on Athena’s shield because she helped the mortal, Perseus, kill Medusa. While Perseus was sent to behead Medusa, the Gorgon, Athena helped direct him while he tried not to look forward because the sight of Medusa’s hair turned people into stone. Once Medusa was killed, Athena kept the Gorgon’s head (Briar College).



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The aegis with Medusa's head on the front.
In addition to Athena’s powers which helped her fight for the morally right, she used weapons which helped her in combat and taught the mortals how to defend themselves. Like most gods and goddesses, Athena had personal weapons which she used to help those who were morally right. Her weapons included a goat skin shield known as an aegis with Medusa’s head on the front and her golden staff. With the Gorgon’s head on the aegis, anyone who glanced at Athena’s shield would turn to stone. With the advantage of being a favored child, Athena had Zeus’s trust with his most prized weapons including his aegis and ray (goddess-athena.org). A part of her weapons was her armor which included a helmet and breast plate. Her clothing was nothing like the usual Greek goddess for she was dressed in armor as if ready for battle. Athena made many beneficial things for the mortals. She was the one to introduce to mortals key tools for war such as ships, horses, war chariots and bridles to help disciplined the horses in order to fight (Sacks 56). The ability to master warfare allowed the Greeks to be independent and successful.



Athena was the patron of the Greek City-State, Athens, after she won a contest against Poseidon, her uncle. Both Athena and Poseidon
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The olive tree that Athena grew.
declared Athens but the people of Athens did not want to insult the gods by choosing which god would be their Patron. Athena came up with a brilliant proposal that each god would give a donation and the god with the favored donation would become the Patron. Athena grew an olive tree for the Athenians and Poseidon formed a stream of water. The Athenians selected Athena’s donation because the tree would provide them with olives, oil and protection as opposed to the stream Poseidon created which was unusable salt water, not fresh water. Athena became one of the twelve deities on Mount Olympus after claiming Athens. After Athena became patron of Athens, the city grew and evolved into success (greece.mrdonn.org). Without Athena, who knows if Athens would have been so rich with accomplishments?



Athena was well rounded through her skills, powers and decisions. She was as stunning as she was knowledgeable. Most things she did benefited mortals. Mortals respected her because she fought for the morally right with her powers and weapons as well as established many essentials to the Greeks. As well as being popular with the mortals she was adored by her father, the King of the Gods. Her legacy carried on through the shrines the Greeks made for her such as the Parthenon, the Acropolis Temple and Erectheum. They even celebrated Athena with a festival called the midsummer festival of Panathenaea (Sacks 57). Her legacy has carried on because through her wisdom most of her actions have helped the morally right which made her a favorite to mortals. She was in all honesty a worker woman!




Works Cited

"Athena." Sweet Briar College { History of Art Program }. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/imageswomen/papers/stebbinsathena/athena2.html>.

"Athena and Minerva - Ancient Greek & Roman Gods for Kids." Ancient Greece for Kids - Myths, Gods, Wars, People, School, Pets, Vases, Columns, Democracy, Games, Geography, Ore. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://greece.mrdonn.org/greekgods/athena.html>.

Bryant, Megan E. She's All That!: a Look-it-up Guide to the Goddesses of Mythology. New York: Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2010. Print.

Crane, Gregory R. "Athena, Goddess of Wisdom." Tufts University, 2011. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/athena.html>.

Homer, and Robert Fagles. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.

Sacks, David, Oswyn Murray, and Margaret Bunson. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. New York: Facts on File, 1995. Print.

"The Goddess Athena." The Shrine of the Goddess Athena. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. http://www.goddess-athena.org/Encyclopedia/Athena/.