Athena: Great Goddess of War

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Athena is the Greek goddess of warfare who is also portrayed as a war goddess in Homer’s Poem of Ilion. She used to encourage the Greek heroes to fight and fought alongside them, and her assistance was always synonymous with military prowess. She is the divine form of the marital, heroic ideal and personifies excellence in close combat, victory, and glory.

She represents war’s intellectual and civilised side. Many people revered her, but in modern times, Athens is the city most closely associated with her because she gave her name to the city and protected it.

The Romans equated her with their goddess Minerva. Also, Pallas and Athene are both names for the Greek goddess Athena. In ancient Greek mythology, she was frequently associated with warfare, wisdom, craft, bravery, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, strategic action, mathematics, strength, arts, and skill.

She was revered as the patron and protectress of many cities, but Athens mainly looked to her for guidance. As Athens was the Greek war goddess, she is typically represented with a helmet on her head and a spear in the right hand. Till now, she is still considered one of the most admired Greek gods.

Athena was never alone; she was always accompanied by her owl and Nike, the goddess of victory. She was known as Pallas Athena, and her father, Zeus, presented her with a breastplate made of goatskin called the Aegis. Her father bestowed this gift upon her.

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Athena’s Names

Athena was known by many names, each aptly describing her, including “helmet head” and “Athena the wise”, The goddess of knowledge and strategy and Athene or Athena.

She was not only symbolised by some of the most important aspects of the ancient Greek culture but also, as one of the gods who played the most active roles in the lives of mortals according to the prevalent myths during that period. She was popular for her great fondness for heroes, and she frequently played a remarkable part in the narratives of these characters.

One of Athena’s most popular representations is Polias, for being the Greek goddess associated with law and order. This also goes back to her being the guardian of Athens. The name Ergane, which translates to “the Industrious”, was given to her, highlighting her role as a supporter of skilled labourers and craftspeople because of her essential assistance to artisans in their work.

She was also known by the names Atrytone, which translates to “the Unwearying,” Parthenos, which translates to “Virgin,” and Promachos, which translates to “she who fights in front.” Athena’s role as guardian over the city is alluded to by her epithet, “of the city”. According to Burkert, the Athenians sometimes called Athena “the Goddess,” which is undoubtedly an ancient title.

Hercules and Orestes

Athena was often portrayed as an assistant to Hercules in ancient Greek art. He appears in 4 of the 12 metopes in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The artistic representation of the deification of Hercules shows her riding her chariot, driving him to Mount Olympus and presenting him to Zeus to worship him.

In the tragedy of Aeschylus’ Orestes, Athena negotiated to save Orestes from the rage of the Erinyes and conducted a trial for his mother Clytemnestra’s murder. She could acquit Orestes, with half the jury absolving him and the other half convicting him. She declared that, from then on, the defendant shall always be forgiven whenever a jury is tied.

Greek Goddess

She has an illustrious and long history, starting as an Aegean goddess, where she played a significant role in many Greek mythology myths. As a result, many people adore her. Other women admire her because of her reputation as a fierce woman known for her fighting, protection, and wisdom.

Athena personified wisdom, courage, resourcefulness and bravery, especially in conflict time. Additionally, she is also known as the Metalworkers and Weavers Patron Saint as a crafts representative.

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It is believed that she assists artisans in their efforts to create the most formidable armour and the deadliest weapons. In addition, she was said to be the first person to invent the harness, the bit, the chariot, and the waggon.

Referring to the depiction of the Greek goddess Athena dressed in full armour as “Athena Promachos” is common practice; it literally translates to “Athena who fights at the front.” A sculptor who worked in the 5th century BC called Pheidias was responsible for creating a famous bronze statue of Athena Promachos.

Unfortunately, the enormous statue that used to be on the Acropolis of Athens, which is also named after the goddess Athena, between the Parthenon and the Propylaea no longer exists there.

Although Athens is the city most commonly associated with having a close relationship with Athena, many other cities in Greece claimed her as their patron goddess. She was held in very high regard throughout the entirety of Greek society.

The landscape of ancient Greece was covered in hundreds of temples dedicated to her, where all the priests and priestesses devoted their lives to serving and praising the goddess.


Athena’s Roman incarnation, Minerva, a young woman and the patron saint of Athens, possessed very similar characteristics to Athena. In addition to being a wise friend to heroes, she is also known as the goddess of courageous actions.

In her honour, the people of Athens constructed the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athena as the patron goddess of war and other military matters, which were an integral part of ancient Greek society’s way of life.

Athena gathered great admiration in ancient Greece, which explains why she was considered such an influential and significant figure in ancient Greek poetry and literature. Naming the most important ancient Greek city at the time was named after her should not be surprising.

Athena is the Greek goddess who represents warfare, wisdom, craft, bravery, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, strategic action, mathematics, strength, arts, and skill. This is really just a thumbnail of the extensive amounts of information that is available about her.

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