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The Birth of Athena

May 16, 2013

The number of myths that surround the goddess Athena are impossible to summarise in a single blog post and so these shall be recounted over the course of time. However a good starting point is her birth.

Athena Goddess of Wisdom was born fully formed from the head of Zeus. There are a number of differing accounts of her birth (as a number of the Olympian Gods). Firstly, it is claimed that she was the daughter of Pallas a winged goat like giant but also that she was the daughter of Poseidon and requested that Zeus adopt her. The most commonly recalled version is that Zeus desired the Titaness Metis who fell pregnant after he had his way. However, Zeus received an Oracle that if Metis were to fall pregnant again after giving birth to their daughter the second child, a son, would be born and rise up against him.

In order to avoid the fate of his father Zeus drew Metis to him again and ate her thus avoiding the prophecy being fulfilled. After a time Zeus experienced an excruciating headache, one of the other gods (it may have been Hermes, Hephaestus or Prometheus, the accounts vary) used a weapon to split his head open and Athena was born with spear and shield in hand.

I believe that the myth of Athena may have patriarchal overtones as Metis was the Titaness of wisdom. This trait was not identified with Zeus and through consuming her he reclaims it. Zeus still embodies the trait of wisdom as a result of Athena being born of him. Hesiod’s Theogony recounts in detail the birth of Athena and attempts to reconcile the many stories of her birth into a single account.


From → Mythical Figures

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  1. Athena and Poseidon | David Allsop Classics

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