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Athena

Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was also skilled in the art of war, and helped heroes such as Odysseus and Hercules. Athena sprang full-grown from the forehead of Zeus, and became his favorite child. Her symbols include the owl and the olive tree.

Athena or Pallas Athena in Greek religion and mythology, one of the most important Olympian deities. According to myth, after Zeus seduced Metes he learned that any son she bore would overthrow him, so he swallowed her alive. Later Hephaestus split Zeus' skull with an ax, and out sprang Athena, fully armed. Athena was a deity of diverse functions and attributes.

Her most conspicuous role was perhaps that of a goddess of war, the female counterpart of Ares. However, she was also a goddess of peace, noted for her compassion and generosity. Like Minerva, with whom the Romans identified her, she was a patron of the arts and crafts, especially spinning and weaving. In later times she was important as a goddess of wisdom. Athena was also a guardian of cities, notably Athens, where the Parthenon was erected as her temple. In a contest with Poseidon concerning dominion over Attica, Athena made an olive tree grow on the Acropolis while Poseidon caused a saltwater stream to gush from the Acropolis. The other Olympians, asked to judge the contest, decided in favor of Athena.

Her statue, the Palladium, was supposed to protect the city that possessed it. It was said that because she accidentally killed Pallas she set the name Pallas before her own. Although a virgin goddess, she was concerned with fertility, and at Athens and Elis her worship was notably maternal. Athena is represented in art as a stately figure, armored, and wielding the aegis.

Her most important festival was the Panathenaea, which was celebrated annually at Athens. It included athletic and musical contests, poetic recitations, and sacrifices. At the end of the festivities a grand procession carried a richly embroidered peplos to the Acropolis as a present to Athena.

Minerva was an important goddess in the pantheon of the ancient Romans. She was worshipped primarily as the goddess of wisdom. Nevertheless, she was also believed to be the goddess of trade, the arts, and warfare. Furthermore, Minerva’s domains included medicine, poetry, and handicrafts. In fact, Minerva ruled over so many different aspects of life that the poet Ovid referred to her as the ‘goddess of a thousand works.’ Minerva is often identified as the equivalent of the Greek goddess Athena.

Was Roman Goddess Minerva Originally an Etruscan Goddess?

Minerva is thought to have been originally an Etruscan goddess. Her name, for instance, is almost identical to Menrva the Etruscan goddess of the arts. The worship of Minerva seems to have been adopted by the Romans later on, who associated the goddess’ name with the Latin word mens which means ‘mind’. Later still, Minerva became identified with the Greek Athena and it was at this time that Minerva became associated with war, an area traditionally under the domain of Mars (his Greek equivalent being Ares)

 

The Birth of Minerva

Nine months later Jupiter suffers from an excruciating headache. The king of the gods calls for Vulcan (Hephaestus in Greek mythology) to relieve the pain. In order to do so, Vulcan cleaved Jupiter’s head open with an axe. To their great surprise, a fully-grown maiden leapt out of Jupiter’s head. She was fully armed for war, wearing armor and a helmet, with a shield in one hand and a spear in the other. The maiden was none other than the goddess Minerva.

 

What Was Minerva’s Origin?

In Roman mythology, Minerva was regarded to be the daughter of Jupiter (whose Greek equivalent was Zeus) and the story of her birth is the same as that of her Greek counterpart Athena. In this myth, Jupiter receives a prophecy that the child of Wisdom (Metis in the Greek version of the myth) will be more powerful than him. In order to safeguard his position as king of the gods, Jupiter marries the goddess, has sexual intercourse with her and swallows her. Wisdom, however, was already impregnated by Jupiter, though it seems that none of the gods nor even Jupiter himself knew.

Minerva occupied a central place in the public religion of ancient Rome. This is most clearly seen in the goddess’ status as one of the Capitoline Triad. This powerful triad of gods comprised of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva and derived its name from their temple on Rome’s Capitoline Hill .