Athena is the Greek goddess of war, arts, skill, and most of all, wisdom. The Romans identify her as Minerva (Hamilton 29). She sprung fully grown from her father’s head, but there are many different versions of how that came to be. Some believe that she had no mother, while others think Metis, one of Zeus’s many consorts, led to the birth of the Athena (www.pantheon.org).
When people conjure up the image of Athena in their mind, a woman wearing a full armor is usually envisioned. In most pictures, she also carries a lance and a shield with Medusa’s head mounted upon it. Athena is also frequently revealed with an owl perched on one of her shoulders, the owl being a symbol of wisdom. In many vase paintings, she is also depicted with birdlike wings (www.wikipedia.org).
One of Athena’s admirable traits is her compassion, as proven in many of the myths told about her. The story of Arachne and Athena’s weaving contest is well known. Athena is not only known for wisdom, but also for her skills in weaving. Arachne however, was also popular in that aspect. Her weavings were so beautiful nymphs left their homes to watch her while she worked (www.goddess-athena.org).Arachne boasted that her work was greater than the Goddess’s, and the contest more or less proved that her weavings were equal to Athena’s, if not better. Any Goddess would not be able to stand being surpassed by a mere mortal, so Athena, in a fit of rage, tore Arachne’s hard labor into pieces. The woman tried to commit suicide, but Athena took pity on her, and allowed her to live on as a spider, forever weaving webs (www.homepage.mac.com). During other times, when criminal trials came to conclusions in which votes were split equally, Athena voted to free the accused, revealing the side of the Goddess that understood and forgave human errors (www.arthistory.sbc.edu).
Athena played a great influential role in her time. During a society in which women were “reduced to