The Cunning Athena

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Maggie McGowan
Mrs. Hunnicutt
Block IV
11 December 2012

The Cunning Athena
The myth of Pallas Athena inspired many artists to create marvelous pieces of art. Athena’s myth is about how you can’t run away from your problems and not to be so self-centered. For when Zeus swallowed Metis, his intension was to not have his two children born to him because they were going to defeat him. Zeus didn’t know that one way or another; Athena was going to be born. This myth inspired Jacopo Tintoretto to create a beautiful painting called Athena and Arachne. Although Tintoretto faced many problems, the outcome of his painting, Athena and Arachne is unlike any other.

Combining a few sources, including: The Lincoln Library Of Greek & Roman Mythology, Theoi, and Elinor Stebbins Pallas Athena, Goddess of Wisdom gives us an awesome summary about the myth of Pallas Athena. Pallas Athena is the goddess of war, wisdom, and patron goddess of practical arts, such as: navigation, agriculture, and production of wool, including spinning, weaving and needlework. She inspired the building of the first ship, Argo, and also the building of the Trojan horse. She also invented the flute, plough, horse bridle, and chariot. Greeks often called her Athene, or Pallas Athena. Citizens are the ones who called her Pallas Athene all of the time. In translation, Pallas means maiden. Pallas Athena was characterized by her fairness and sound judgment. She is also often represented wearing a helmet and carrying a round shield or breastplate with the head of Medusa in the middle, also known as Zeus’ aegis. Athena has two animals, one the owl, and a snake. The owl symbolizes wisdom while the snake represents everlasting renewal and the earth. The olive branch, symbol of peace, is also identified with her because of the battle with Poseidon. The reason the battle took place was to see who would have complete domination over Athens. That is when she made an olive tree grow from the ground and also produced her first horse. Nike, the winged spirit of victory, often joined her onto the battlefield. Although Athena was the god of war, she was often thought of as the goddess who brings victory in war.

Metis, the goddess of shrewd counsel, was Athena’s mother and her father was Zeus, which was mentioned earlier. Her mother Metis, was fated to give birth to two children- a boy and a girl- who would prove to be more powerful than their father. Zeus did not like the idea his own children overthrowing him as he did to his father, Cronus, so he swallowed Metis before she could give birth. Soon after, Zeus began ranting about how awful his headaches were. When the pain became so bad he could not stand it anymore, he called the other gods to help him. The god of blacksmiths, Hephaestus, used his axe to open his skull. At the crack of his skull, out sprang Athena, full grown, in armor, from her dads’ head. Also, some believe that Zeus was demonstrating that he didn’t need a woman’s help to give birth. After Athena’s birth, Zeus became the wisest of all gods because of the fact that Metis was still living in his stomach and gave him excellent advice on every matter. Athena (like her mom) became the second wisest of the Olympian gods.

Athena’s name itself means cunning. She was in a position of authority over a kind of intelligence that helps in war and other competitive circumstances. Athena, the goddess of war is different than Ares, the god of war, because she is smart, strategic, and planning helped warriors and heroes come out on top. Even though Ares was her half brother, their differences forced them to fight on different sides during the Trojan War. Athena fought for the Greeks, while Ares, with his love Aphrodite, (the goddess of love) sided with the Trojans. Athena was the most important Olympian god. She started the court of Areopagus, where the first trials in Athens were held. Every four years the citizens of Athens would hold a festival called...
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