Athena’s mother was Metis, one of the titans, and the goddess of wisdom, justice, prudence and good sense. She was the first wife of Zeus, in the pre-Hera days, and he valued her for her wisdom and wise counsel. She became pregnant, and Zeus learned through a prophecy that if he had a daughter by Metis, she would be his equal, but if he had a son, he would be superior to his father and would conquer him. Unwilling to take the risk, Zeus swallowed Metis whole, thus avoiding a possible son by her, but at the same time, keeping her wisdom and wise counsel close within him.
He didn’t expect what would happen… One day he became blinded by a terrible headache, one so awful that his cries of pain summoned all the gods in fear to his side. Hephestus knew what needed to be done; he took his hammer and split Zeus’ head open. Out of the gap sprung a warrior goddess fully grown and in full armor. As her feet hit the ground, the earth shook and the heavens were filled with radiant light.
The Goddess of Wisdom and Battle, the future patron of Greece’s golden city of Athens, and arguably the most important figure in the Greek pantheon, was born.
The story of Athena’s triumphant birth is told by Hesiod (circa 800-700 B.C.E.) at the end of the Theogony.
Athena played a major role in the Trojan War (as told by Homer in the Iliad circa 800-700 B.C.E.) siding with and aiding in battle the Greeks who were eventually the victors. At one point in battle, Athena, Goddess of Battle, defeated her half-brother Ares, God of War, causing him to flee the scene.
Pallas Athena is protectress and guide to both Odysseus and his son Telemachus throughout the Odyssey (Homer, circa 800-700 B.C.E.) the story of Odysseus’s long and perilous journey home from the victory at Troy. She counsels both men in various guises and appeals to the Gods on his behalf throughout.
Books about Pallas Athena
Athena : A Biography – Lee Hall
Athena (Greek and Roman Mythology Series) – Nancy Loewen
Bright-Eyed Athena : Stories from Ancient Greece – Richard Woff
The Sanctuary of Athena Nike in Athens : Architectural Stages and Chronology (Aia Monograph New Series, 2) – Ira S. Mark
Books About The Parthenon
Athena’s Temple in Athens and the pinnacle of Greek architecture, the Parthenon stands on the Acropolis overlooking Athens. In the 1800s, much of the statuary and marble sculpture was dismantled and transported to England by Lord Elgin, where it now sits in the British Museum–a subject of great controversy.
Lord Elgin and the Marbles – William St. Clair
The best book I’ve found on the subject so far. Clear, detailed and easy to read; and objective and dispassionate examination of a controversial subject.
The Elgin Affair : The Abduction of Antiquity’s Greatest Treasures and the Passions It Aroused – Theodore Vrettos
If you read the William St. Clair book above, you really don’t need this one, which is a less scholarly, more soap opera book that covers in less detail same material.
The Elgin Marbles : Should They Be Returned to Greece? – Christopher Hitchens, Robert Browning (Contributor), Graham Binns
The Parthenon of Ancient Greece – Don Nardo
The Parthenon and Its Impact in Modern Times – Panayotis Tournikiotis (Editor)
The Parthenon – Peter Chrisp
The Parthenon Frieze – Ian Jenkins
Books About The Controversial Theory Of The ‘Black Athena’
Black Athena : The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985) – Martin Bernal
Black Athena : The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization : The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence – Martin Bernal
Not Out of Africa : How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth As History – Mary Lefkowitz
Heresy in the University : The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals – Jacques Berlinerblau
Books About Goddesses and Female Mythology
Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood : A Treasury of Goddess and Heroine Lore from Around the World – Merlin Stone, Cynthia Stone (Illustrator)
The Divine Feminine : Exploring the Feminine Face of God Throughout the World – Andrew Harvey (Editor), Anne Baring (Editor)
Goddess : Myths of the Female Divine – David Leeming, Jake Page
The Heart of the Goddess : Art, Myth and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine – Hallie Iglehart Austen, Jean Shinoda Bolen
When God Was a Woman – Merlin Stone