Athena or Athene, often given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek Goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Athena is the Patron and Protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens.She is usually shown in art wearing a helmet and holding a spear. Her major symbols include owls, olive trees, snakes, and the Gorgoneion.
From Her origin as an Aegean palace Goddess, Athena is closely associated with the city. She is known as Polias and Poliouchos (meaning "city-state"), and Her temples were usually located atop the fortified Acropolis in the central part of the city. The Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis is dedicated to Her, along with numerous other temples and monuments. As the patron of craft and weaving, Athena is known as Ergane. She is also a Warrior Goddess, and leads soldiers into battle.
In the classical Olympian Pantheon, Athena is regarded as the favorite daughter of Zeus, born fully armed from his forehead. In the version recounted by Hesiod in his Theogony, Zeus married the Goddess Metis, who is described as the "wisest among Gods and mortal men", and slept with Her. After learning that Metis was pregnant, however, he became afraid that the unborn offspring would try to overthrow him, because Gaia and Ouranos had prophesied that Metis would bear children wiser than their father. In order to prevent this, Zeus tricked Metis into letting him swallow her; but it was too late, because Metis had already conceived.
After swallowing Metis, Zeus took six more wives in succession until he married his seventh and present wife, Hera. Then Zeus experienced an enormous headache. He was in such pain that he ordered Hephaestus to cleave his head open with the labrys, the double-headed Minoan axe. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed. The "First Homeric Hymn to Athena" states that the Gods were awestruck by Athena's appearance and even Helios, the God of the sun, stopped his chariot in the sky. Pindar, in his "Seventh Olympian Ode", states that she "cried aloud with a mighty shout" and that "the Sky and mother Earth shuddered before Her."
In the founding story of Athens, Athena bested Poseidon in a competition over patronage of the city by creating the first olive tree. She is known as Athena Parthenos-The Virgin. In one archaic Attic story, the God Hephaestus tried and failed to rape her, resulting in Gaia giving birth to Erichthonius, an important Athenian founding hero. Athena is the patron Goddess of heroic endeavor; she also aided the heroes Perseus, Heracles and others. Along with Aphrodite and Hera, Athena was one of the three Goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War. She plays an active role in the Iliad and in the Odyssey, she is the divine counselor to Odysseus.