Athena is the Greek virgin goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, useful arts, and battle strategy. She is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and her symbols include the owl, Aegis, the olive tree, and the snake.
Athena was the daughter of Metis and Zeus. A prophecy had once foretold that Metis would give birth to a son more powerful than his father, which was the god Zeus. This posed a problem as Metis was already pregnant with their first child. To prevent the prophecy from taking place, Zeus tricked Metis into taking the form of a fly and swallowed her. What Zeus did not know was that Metis was pregnant with their daughter. Over time however, Zeus began to suffer from a terrible headache and asked the Titan Prometheus (in some cases it was Hephaestus and or Ares) to split his head open to find the problem. Athena sprang fully-grown from Zeus' head in full battle armor, shouting a battle cry.
She quickly became Zeus' favorite daughter. In the most ancient account, the Iliad, Athena is the goddess of ferocious and implacable fights, but wherever she can be found, she is a warrior who defends the State and the native land against the enemies coming from outside, and supports the side that is morally right. She is, above all, the Goddess of the City, the protector of civilized life, of artisan activities, and of wisdom. She also invented the bridle, which, for the first time, tamed horses, allowing men to use them.
In Greek mythology, she was one of the most active goddesses. She assisted Odysseus in his journey home from the Trojan War in the Odyssey and made sure the Greeks won the Trojan War in the Iliad by helping the Greeks by giving Odysseus the idea of the Trojan Horse. She also helped heroes like Diomedes, Hercules (in killing the Stymphalian Birds), Jason, and Perseus. Athena is known for helping heroes with cleverness. She believes that warfare should be used as a last resort and often uses her trickery and strategies to overcome her enemies.
Along with Artemis and Hestia, she is one of the three maiden goddesses. She does have demigod children in the series, though they are conceived when her divine thoughts meet the mortal ingenuity of the men she favors, a love which she believes to be the of the purest kind. Her children are then born in the same way she was, quite literally making them brain children. It is unknown if any other goddess can give birth to children in a similar way.
In Greece she was known as Pallas Athena, the name she had inherited from a friend she had accidentally killed. She was also known as Athena Parthenos or Athena the Virgin, which is how she was worshiped at the Parthenon. When she leads in battle, she was known as Athena Promachos. In some places she was known as Athena Alea as she was associated with the ancient goddess Alea.
A long time ago, the mortal Arachne challenged Athena to see who could create the best tapestry. Athena then disguised herself as an old woman and tried to warn Arachne that it would be foolishness to challenge a goddess, but Arachne persisted and stated that if she lost, she would accept any punishment. Enraged, Athena revealed herself and accepted the challenge as she herself had invented weaving. Each of them then made a tapestry. Athena's tapestry was of the gods together in glory and joy while Arachne's showed the gods making fools of themselves. Athena was so infuriated by this deliberate insult to the gods that she destroyed the tapestry in rage and was declared the winner.
Arachne was filled with guilt and hung herself. Athena, after seeing Arachne's body, felt responsible for her death and decided to do her a favor. She turned Arachne into a spider so that she and all her children would be expert weavers forever. In other versions of the myth, Athena transformed Arachne into a spider directly after the contest as part of Arachne's punishment.
For many eons, Athena and Poseidon have had a rivalry between them, which can be traced to the time when they competed for the position of patron of the city of Athens, (called Attica at that time). The leader of the city asked the two gods to bestow a gift for the newly constructed city. Poseidon created a salt-water spring, while Athena gave them the olive tree. Seeing that the olive tree was more useful than the salt-water spring, the leader of the city made Athena their patron goddess. A temple known as the Parthenon was dedicated to her, and the new city took the name of Athens in her honor.
Another time which marks a conflict between the two Olympians was when Athena transformed Coronis (whom Poseidon was trying to seduce) into a raven. As a result, a furious Poseidon longed for revenge. Hence, he took Medusa, his new lover, into Athena's temple. Furious with Poseidon and Medusa for doing such disgusting and disturbing acts in her temple, Athena turned Medusa into a hideous creature who had the additional curse of turning anyone who looked into her irresistible eyes into stone. As Medusa's sisters had helped her get inside the temple, they too were transformed. Collectively, the three sisters are known as the "Three Gorgons". Poseidon later encouraged Hephaestus to try to seduce Athena. Yet another time both of them were at odds about Odysseus. While Poseidon was furious with him for blinding his son Polyphemus, Athena favored him above all other mortals, and was always willing to aid Odysseus when he needed it most.
Though it seems unlikely that Athena and Poseidon would ever cooperate, this did happen when the chariot was invented, as Athena had built the chariot itself and Poseidon had created the horses needed to pull it. Poseidon and Athena were also on the same side during the Trojan War, as they had both supported the Greeks.