Bronze sculpture in the possession of the author, a copy of the Athena Promachos in the Naples Archaeological Museum.


7. Athîná - (Athena; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ, ΑΘΗΝΑ. Pronunciation: ah-thee-NAH, the accent falling on the final syllable, or not accenting any syllable.)

Athîná is one of the most important deities in the pantheon of Ællînismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods.

The parentage of Athiná

Athîná is the daughter of Zefs (Ζεύς) and Mítis (Mêtis, Μῆτις), these two from which one can derive much of her character, as she has the surpassing ascendancy of her father and the wisdom of Mítis. According to Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 886, Zefs swallowed Mítis while she was pregnant with Athîná for fear that Mítis would give birth to a son who would overthrow him. Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος) split the head of Zefs with an ax and Athîná emerged in full battle-gear. There are other, conflicting versions of Athîná's parentage but this is likely the most common mythology.

Generalities concerning Athîná

According to Orphic fragments, Athîná is the very embodiment of virtue [1].

Athîná is prudently warlike in that she protects the state from external enemies. She is the protectress and companion of heroes such as Odysséfs (Odysseus, Ὀδυσσεύς) and Pærséfs (Perseus, Περσεύς), who are distinguished for their valor and strength of character. Likewise, she responds to suppliants who have the potential to develop such qualities.

Athîná is a great Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and art: those things and institutions which civilize man and distribute wise counsel. She maintains and protects law and justice and has an interest in everything which creates stability, strength and abundance in the state.

Ærgánî (Ergane, Ἐργάνη) is the epithet of the Goddess in her role as the patroness of invention, weaving, various crafts, and martial metalwork and martial craft. She invented all sorts of womanly arts. She invented numbers, the trumpet, the chariot, and navigation. According to the Orphic fragments, she, along with Íphaistos, was taught by the Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes, Κύκλωπες) the skills necessary to create “all the works of heaven” [2].

Athîná has a great interest in agriculture and she protects the fields. She taught mankind to yoke oxen, having invented the plow and rake. She taught the breeding and taming of horses.

Like Ártæmis (Artemis, Ἄρτεμις) and Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία), Athîná is a virgin Goddess, this referring to a type of divine purity and having nothing to do with sex. Hence, she is known as Athîná Parthǽnos (virgin = parthenos, παρθένος) and in the mythology is never in an amorous relationship and is not married.

According to Orphic fragments, Athîná is the leader of the Kourítæs (Curêtes, Κουρῆτες). [3]

Appropriate offerings to Athîná are aromatic herbs (as proposed in the Orphic hymn to the Goddess), olive leaves, and cakes in the shape of the owl, serpent, and cock, animals which are sacred to her. Also appropriate as offerings are cakes in the shape of the bull, cow, and ram, as these animals were sacrificed to her in antiquity.

Athîná in iconography

The Goddess Athîná is usually depicted in full battle-gear. She should never be depicted nude. She wears a great helmet decorated variously with griffins, rams, sphinxes, a serpent, or a rooster. She wields a spear which, when resting on the ground, will have a snake at its base. On top of a sleeveless tunic she wears a cloak (χλαμύς), and over this is the famous breastplate, the Aiyís (Aegis, Αἰγίς), said to be made of the skin of the divine goat Amáltheia (Ἀμάλθεια) and given to her by Zefs himself. She wields a round shield called the Gorgóneion (Γοργόνειον); it is named thus, for mounted on its face is the head of the Gorgóh (Gorgôn, Γοργώ) Mǽdousa (Medusa, Μέδουσα), with snakes writhing about it. Sometimes the Goddess is depicted seated and carrying a weaver’s beam. When painted, the eyes of Athîná are famously gray-blue. Surrounding the Goddess can sometimes be found animals whom are sacred to her, especially the owl, but also the serpent, and the cock. Branches of olive, sacred to her, are sometimes seen in her iconography.

Athîná Parthǽnos and the Parthænóhn

Originally housed in the Parthænóhn (Parthenôn, Παρθενών) at the Akrópolis (Acropolis, Ακρόπολις) of Athens was the famous statue of Athîná thirty-eight feet (12 meters) in height. The original has perished but we know well what it looked by from the many copies made in antiquity. It was constructed of gold and ivory and created by the sculptor Pheidías (Phidias, Φειδίας). She wears a helmet adorned with a sphinx flanked by two winged horses or griffins. In her right hand, Athîná holds a statue of Níki (Nike, Νίκη), the Goddess of Victory, six feet (2 meters) in height. Her left hand rests on the shield. At her right foot is the Ærikhthónios (Erichthonius, Ἐριχθόνιος) serpent. She wears the golden Aiyís on which is depicted the Gorgóneion. In Nashville, Tennessee, USA, there is a spectacular full-size reconstruction of the statue, built for the 1897 Centennial Exposition.

Athîná and the ancient city of Athens

Athîná is the patron Goddess of Athens and how this came about is related in a myth. In the time of Kǽkrops (Cecrops, Κέκροψ), the first king of Attikí (Attica, Ἀττική), two Gods competed for the principal Attic city. Poseidóhn (Poseidón, Ποσειδῶν) came first and struck his trident in the middle of the Akrópolis producing the sea called Ærækhthîís (Erechtheïs, Ἐρεχθηΐς). Next, Athîná approached the city and called on Kǽkrops to witness as she created and planted an olive tree as a gift to the people. The two deities then tried to take possession of the city but were separated by Zefs who appointed the Olympians as arbiters. The Twelve Gods gave the city to Athîná who then named it after herself. [4]

And then there is the mythology of Ærikhthónios (Erichthonius, Ἐριχθόνιος), one of the first kings of Athens, a story also connected with the Goddess. Rejected by Aphrodíti (Aphroditê, Ἀφροδίτη), Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος) had fallen in love with Athîná. When she approached him to commission the construction of arms, Íphaistos made advances on her. Athîná resisted, but when Íphaistos tried to embrace her, in his excitement some of his seed fell on her leg. Horrified, she wiped it off with wool and cast it to the ground. From this semen Ærikhthónios was born. The Goddess felt sorry for this infant and reared it secretly, desiring to deify the child. She placed it in a chest and gave it to Pándrosos (Pandrosus, Πάνδροσος), daughter of Kǽkrops, and made her promise not to look inside the box. Pándrosos kept her vow but her sisters became curious and opened the chest. Inside they found a serpent coiled around a child. There are two versions of the story of what happened to the sisters: one, that they were destroyed by the snake, the second that they then went mad and threw themselves off the Akrópolis and died. Athîná then cared for Ærikhthónios. When he reached the proper age and strength Ærikhthónios defeated and expelled Amphiktyóhn (Amphictyon, Ἀμφικτυών) and became king of Athens. Ærikhthónios then instituted the great festival of the Panathínaia (Panathenaea, Παναθήναια) in honor of Athîná and had the famous wooden statue of the Goddess set up on the Acropolis. [5]

Athîná, Apóllôn, and Zagréfs-Diónysos

Athîná is woven into the mystic mythology of Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεὐς). The seven pairs of Titánæs (Titans, Τιτᾶνες) lured the infant God away from the thunderbolts Zefs had given him with a basket of toys. Then they cut him into pieces, placing the heart and limbs aside. They threaded the remaining pieces on spits and roasted them, eating some and sacrificing the remaining pieces to the Gods. Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων) carefully gathered the tiny limbs of Zagréfs and interred them at Mount Parnassós (Parnassus, Παρνασσός). Athîná, with great solicitude, lifted his precious heart, still warm and beating, and placed it in a beautiful silver box, delivering it to her father to be conceived in the womb of Sæmǽlî (Semele, Σεμέλη) and reborn from the leg of Zefs (Ζεύς) as Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος), the great liberator of all creation. [6]

Athîná, Apóllôn, and Ærmís

Athiná, Apóllôn, and Ærmís (Hermês, Ἑρμῆς) work together as a mighty triad for the benefit of the virtuous. This can be gleaned from the close proximity they share in the plays of the great tragedians and in the mythology in general.

Festivals of Athiná

The Sacred Plowings


The Epithets of Athiná

A beautiful embroidery of Athiná, very old, in the possession of our community: Athiná, Queen of Athens


[1] Kern Orphic Fragment 175. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 24d (1.170, 3 Diehl):

“For the genus of Virtue is adapted to this greatest divinity (Athiná), as being Virtue herself. For abiding in the Demiurgus, she is wisdom and immutable intelligence, and in the ruling [or supermundane] Gods, she unfolds the power of Virtue." (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

Ἀρετῆς τ' ὄνομ' ἐσθλὸν κλήιζεται

“She (Ἀθηνᾶ) is celebrated by the good name of Virtue.” (trans. by the author)

[2] Kern Orphic Fragment 179. (92) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 29a (I 327, 23 Diehl):

οἳ Ζηνὶ βροντήν τε πόρον τεῦξάν τε κεραυνόν, πρῶτοι τεκτονόχειρες, ἰδ' Ἥφαιστον καὶ Ἀθήνην δαίδαλα πάντ' ἐδίδαξαν, ὅσ' οὐρανὸς ἐντὸς ἐέργει.

“who (Κύκλωπες) presented to Zefs (Ζεὺς) the thunder, and who made the thunderbolt, the first with hands of craftsmen, who taught Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) and Athiná (Ἀθηνᾶ) all the cunning (things) shut up in heaven.” (trans. by the author)

[3] Otto Kern Orphic Fragments 151, 185, and 186. See below.

185. (134) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 406d p. 112, 14 Pasqu.:

νῦν οὖν ὁ Σωκράτης τὴν μὲν φρουρητικὴν διὰ τοῦ τῆς Παλλάδος ἀνυμνεῖ ὀνόματος, τὴν δὲ τελεσιουργὸν διὰ τοῦ τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς. τὴν οὖν ἔνρυθμον χορείαν διὰ τῆς κινήσεως ὑποφαίνει, ἧς καὶ μεταδέδωκεν πρωτίστηι μὲν τῆι Κουρητικῆι τάξει, δευτέρως δὲ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις θεοῖς· ἔστιν γὰρ ἡ θεὸς κατὰ ταύτην τὴν δύναμιν ἡγεμὼν τῶν Κουρήτων, ὥς φησιν Ὀρφεύς.

“Now therefore Socrates celebrates her guardian power, through the name of Pallas; but her perfective power through that of Minerva (Ἀθηνᾶ). She is the cause therefore of orderly and measured motion, which she first imparts to the Curetic order, and afterwards to the other Gods. For Minerva according to this power is the leader of the Curetes, as Orpheus says, (whence also, as well as those divinities she is adorned with empyrean arms, through which she represses all disorder, preserves the demiurgic series immoveable, and unfolds dancing through rhythmical motion.)” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1816)

[4] Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 3.14.1.

[5] Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 3.16.6.

[6] See Orphic Theogony: The Sixth King

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology , the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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