All the Gods and Athena



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All the Gods and Athena

1 Now, these gods reigned for some three thousand years. There were many of them, but twelve chief ones. Zeus married his sister Hera - a family habit. They were always quarreling.He angered her by his infidelities; she enraged him with the suspicions. She was the queen of intriguers and always found it easy to outwit Zeus, who was busy with many things.


2 Zeus was king of the gods, lord of the skies. His sister Demeter was the earth-goddess, lady of growing things. His sister Hera, queen of the gods, was also his wife. His brother Poseidon was god of the sea. His other brother, Hades, ruled a dark domain, the underworld, the land beyond death, Hades.
3 The other gods in the Pantheon were Zeus's children; three of them were also Hera's. These were Ares, the god of war; Hephaetus, the smith-god, forger of weapons; Eris, goddess of discord, who shrieks beside Ares in his battle chariot. {Athena, goddess of wisdom, sprang from Zeus's head.] The rest of Zeus's children were born out of wedlock. Three of them enter the Pantheon. They were H
4 Of all his children, the gray-eyed Athena was Zeus's favorite. She alone was allowed to carry her father's thunderbolt and his great breastplate, called the Aegis. Athena was the only Olympian who was not born of a mother, but sprang directly from the head of Zeus, fully grown and dresses in armor.
5 Athena was the most complex of the twelve great Olympian gods and goddesses. As the goddess of war, she could perform mighty deeds of battle; at least twice she defeated the war god Ares. Yet war gave her no pleasure. She preferred peace, and would rather settle disputes by wise judgment than by fighting. In this, she was most unlike wild Ares, who loved battle for its own sake, and was never happier then when he was slaughtering enemies or destroying cities. It was probably Athena's superior intelligence and strategy in
battle that made her stronger than the war god in his mindless fury and love of bloodshed. In peacetime, she put off her armor to dress in graceful flowing robes. Although many of the gods desired to marry her, Athena chose to remain single.
6 Like all of the other deities, Athena took a deep interest in the affairs of mortals. But unlike many of them, she tended to use her powers to make life better for those humans she cared for.
7 This is a typical gesture: Athena competed with Poseidon, the god of the seas, over a new settlement of people, which was destined to be on of the greatest cities in the history of the world. Which if them should become the patron (guardian and protector) of the city, to be named after the winner? With the other gods and goddesses sitting as judges, Poseidon and Athena each performed a miraculous act on the heights of Acropolis, overlooking the new city.
8 First the sea god struck the rock with his trident (three pronged spear) and immediately a great fountain of water burst forth. Everyone was amazed: even though the water was salty, it was a wonder to see a spring rising from the top of a mountain. Then Athena struck the rock with her spear. From the rocky soil grew a tall olive tree, loaded with fruit. How more useful that was than a flow of brackish water!
9 The goddess was made the patron of the great city, now named Athens in her honor. Ever since that time, the olive tree has been her special tree, and the owl, the symbol of wisdom, her special bird.
10 It was not only Athens that this goddess protected, but all of civilized life. She invented the flute and the trumpet for our pleasure, the earthenware bowl for our convenience, and taught all the women's arts, especially weaving. But she also worked to improve farming, inventing the plough and rake, the yoke to harness oxen, and the bridle for horses. She gave us the chariot and the ship; she first taught us the science of mathematics.
11 During the Trojan War (a ten year war between the Greeks and the Trojans caused by the kidnapping of Helen of Troy by the Greek warrior Paris) many of the Olympians took sides; in fact, it was a much a war among the gods and goddesses as between the Greeks and Trojans. Athena took the side of the Greeks, and long after they had won the war, she continued to help them. She watched after Odysseus during his ten-year journey home from war, offering him advice and assistance when he most needed it.
12 Athena, called Minerva by the Romans, was unique among the deities. She defies heroism in a new way: courage does not necessarily mean fighting, but standing firm for what is right (justice). She can serve as a model for women everywhere. The divine protector of human civilization, the goddess of war who preferred peace, the judge who believed in mercy - this was indeed a gracious goddess, and a wise one.



  1. What is ironic about Athena being the goddess of war?

    1. She beat her brother Ares, the god of war, several times in battle

    2. She preferred peace over war

    3. She was Zeus’ favorite child

    4. She was intelligent and a great strategist




  1. Athena was unlike the other gods in that she

    1. was not interested in marriage

    2. was favored by Zeus

    3. didn’t take sides in the Greek & Trojan was

    4. used her powers to help humans

3. Which of the following is a symbol said to be attributed to Athena



  1. an olive tree the symbol of fertility

  2. a ship the symbol of journeys

  3. an owl the symbol of wisdom

  4. an earthenware bowl the symbol of plenty





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