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Athena: Ancient Greek Goddess of War

Athena (or Athene) is the goddess of war and daughter of Zeus. Athena has always been a well-respected goddess in Greek mythology. This is because she has always had a strong presence and fierce aura, which can be a main reason why Athena is the goddess of war.

Athena’s birth is quite an incredible one. She is the daughter of Zeus – god of lighting and king of the gods. Her mother Metis – goddess of counsel and Zeus’s first wife– was transformed into a droplet of water and swallowed by Zeus while she was pregnant with Athena and her brother. Athena’s brother did not survive in Zeus’s body, but she did. One day, Zeus complained about headaches and asked his son Hephaestus – god of blacksmithing– to open his head and see what was causing the headaches. One swing of Hephaestus’ hammer was enough to open the head of Zeus. Then, Athena emerged out of Zeus’ head fully grown. This surprised and impressed Zeus, which also gave Athena the title of Zeus’ favorite child.

Athena and her uncle Poseidon, god of the sea, were both fond of a certain city. They both wanted to be the patron of that city, so they fought. They both decided to give the city a gift and whoever gave the more favorable gift would become the patron of the city. Poseidon gifted the people a saltwater spring and a horse. Athena gifted the people an olive tree. The people chose Athena because they found more use in the olive tree than the saltwater spring and horse. The city was then named Athens in honor of her and ever since then, Poseidon and Athena have always hated each other.

Athena, as a war goddess, fights alongside Greek heroes. Zeus specifically assigned the sphere of war to Athena and her half-brother Ares, god of war. Despite being god and goddess on the same subject and being half-siblings, Athena and Ares could not be more different. Athena represents the intellectual and civilized part of war, as well as justice and skill. Ares, being the polar opposite of Athena, represents the blood lust and dark side of war.

Athena is also the goddess of crafts and skilled peacetime in general. She was known as the patroness of spinning and weaving. Arachne, a Greek mortal, was just as good at weaving as Athena was. Some people even argued that she was better. Arachne hated all gods, and she would use her art as a way to show her hatred towards the gods.

One day, Athena, disguised as an old woman, visited Arachne. When Athena visited Arachne, she heard her bad-mouthing the gods. Athena was furious, and she returned to her true form. She then asked Archane to a crafting competition. Athena made a portrait of the good side of the gods. She portrayed all the great things the gods and goddesses have achieved. Arachne crafted the shameful side of the gods, things like the selfishness of the gods, the affairs of Zeus, and many more humiliating truths. Athena was enraged by the portrait Arachne crafted. Athena then cursed Arachne and turned her into the very first spider.

Athena is a very respected and feared goddess. She was respected because of her calm but powerful nature. At the same time she was feared because of how much she cursed and punished mortals, including Arachne, Medusa, and many more. Athena’s cursing power is one of the reasons she is one of the fiercest Goddesses.

[Source: Britannica]

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