Athena is the Olympian Goddess of Wisdom and the first daughter of Zeus and the Titan Metis. Offering wise counsel to those who seek it, Athena helped promote civilization in the mortal world and taught humans skills such as weaving, sewing, farming, and metalwork.
While the elected ruler of Athens; the capital of Greece, and a patron deity of heroes like Heracles, Perseus, Odysseus and Diana of Themyscira, Athena is also at times arrogant and can't stand it if someone dares to prove her inferior. She is also vengeful and holds grudges against Poseidon and Ares.
Athena is the daughter of the Olympian god Zeus and his cousin and first wife, the Titan of Wisdom, Metis.
Saved as a child from being eaten by his father by his mother and raised in secret by nymphs within a cave on Mount Ida, when Zeus came of age and emerged with the intention of freeing his siblings and overthrowing Cronus, he encountered Metis, who also wished for Cronus' oppressive rule to end, and the two formed a partnership to overthrow Cronus.
On Metis' advice, Zeus masked himself as a cupbearer in Cronus' court and tricked his father into drinking poisoned wine. The wine made Cronus vomit so much that he ultimately disgorged Zeus’ siblings.
Zeus continued relying on her counsel during the war against the Titans known as the "Titanomachy" and following the war the two married as Zeus became King of the Olympian gods.
While frequently making love with her cousin even before their marriage, whenever Zeus attempted to penetrate her with the intention of impregnating her she would evade him or change her physical form to prevent him from doing so. While she claimed that she was simply playing coy, in reality her actions were due to her wish to avoid a prophecy that stated that, should she become pregnant, she would bear two children to Zeus; the first being a daughter, and the second one, a son, would be so powerful that would overthrow Zeus. While she deeply desired to successful mate with Zeus and receive her cousin's seeds of creation within her womb, Metis knew that another war for the throne would destroy the world and so denied her desire to avoid the prophesied fate.
However, unaware of the prophecy, Zeus continued attempting to successfully mate with her until one day he managed to fool her into becoming distracted and as she unwittingly exposed herself to him he penetrated her. Shocked by the sudden intrusion, Metis quickly succumbed to the pleasures that her husband's presence within her gave her and she fell to her long-denied desires; allowing him to finally mate with her and they repeatidly bestowed her womb with his seeds of creation.
After their lust was sated, Metis regained her senses and admitted her reasons for why she was avoiding coupling with Zeus and revealed the prophecy to him.
Becoming more and more troubled as Metis' pregnancy developed, Zeus sought the guidance of Gaia and Uranus who both concurred with Metis' determination that another war for the throne of the gods would destroy the Earth. They then advised that Zeus had to prevent Metis' pregnancy from completing or at the very least, prevent her from ever becoming pregnant a second time.
Returning to Olympus with a heavy heart, Zeus tricked Metis into trailing her powers of transformation while she was pregnant and, when she turned into a fly on his suggestion, he swallowed her like his father, Cronus, swallowed his siblings.
However, Metis did not die inside Zeus and her pregnancy was not aborted. Giving birth to Athena while still inside Zeus' stomach, the two goddesses remained within the god king until one day Metis began constructing armour for her daughter. Zeus was in such pain that he asked Ares to hit his head with an axe; as soon as his head was opened, Athena jumped out fully grown and clad in armour and proclaimed her allegiance to her father.
As Zeus favoured Athena a lot more than he favoured Ares; the son Hera and Zeus made together, Hera grew irate that her husband would favour a child he had created with another woman over a child he had sired with his wife (although Metis was his wife at the time of Athena's conceivement). When Zeus began claiming that Ares was not even his son, that Hera had committed adultery and slept with another god behind his back to conceive the god of war, Hera flew into a rage and attempted to conceive her next child on her own; giving birth to Hephaestus. However, as Hera created him without the inclusion of the seeds of creation found within males, Hephaestus was born ugly and incomplete. Her rage growing further as Zeus mocked her attempt at conceiving without him, Hera threw her newborn from Olympus where he fell into the ocean below and was found and raised by the Goddess of Water, Thetis, and Zeus' third wife, the Titaness Eurynome.
Pallas was the daughter of the sea-god Triton and she and Athena were childhood friends, but Athena accidentally killed her during a friendly sparring match. Distraught over what she had done, Athena took the name Pallas for herself as a sign of her grief.
After Zeus ended the Bronze Age of man with a deluge and started the new "Age of Heroes" with the mortals Deucalion and Pyrrah, Athena, along with the other gods, was given permission to help guide and educate the new race so that they would not meet the same end of the previous races of mankind.
When it came to establishing the capital city of Greece, Athena competed with Poseidon for the patronage of Athens. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and that Cecrops, the king of Athens, would determine which gift was better. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring sprang up; this gave the Athenians access to trade and water—but the water was salty and undrinkable. Athena offered the first domesticated olive tree; which brought wood, oil, and food, and became a symbol of Athenian economic prosperity. Cecrops allowed the citizens of the city to vote and the vote split along gender lines. Ultimately, the women outnumbered the men and Athena became the patron goddess of Athens. Incensed with his lose, Poseidon flooded Athens until the citizens conceded offered to limit the status of women in such political events in the future.
One day, when Athena visited Hephaestus to request some weapons, Hephaestus was so overcome by desire for her that he tried to seduce her in his workshop. Noting his amorous gaze but determined to maintain her virginity, Athena attempted to flee the workshop but was pursued by Hephaestus and his automatons. Caught, Athena nonetheless fought back as Hephaestus and his automatons gradually removed her armour, disrobed her, and tried to restrain her body to rape her. Slowly losing the battle, Athena quickly changed her demeanor to one appearing to comply with Hephaestus' desires. Claiming that the battle had aroused her, Athena assailed Hephaestus with sexual fever and offered herself to him; claiming that her body would sheath his pleasure if his sword remained strong. However, as Hephaestus ordered his automatons away from her, Athena sought his engorged genitalia and began masturbating him before he could penetrate her. While her hands were more accustomed to manipulating steel than flesh, Hephaestus nonetheless succumbed to Athena's hands and his ejaculation fell on her thigh.
Victorious, Athena, in disgust, wiped Hephaestus' seed away with a scrap of wool and flung it to the earth. As she fled, a child was born from the semen that fell to the earth and Athena, wishing to raise the child in secret, named him "Erichthonius" and placed him within a small box.
While tending to an errand, Athena placed the box under the care of the three daughters (Herse, Aglaurus and Pandrosus) of the king of Athens, and warned them never to look inside. Pandrosus obeyed, but Herse and Aglaurus were overcome with curiosity and opened the box. The sisters were terrified by what they saw in the box: either a snake coiled around an infant, or an infant that was half-human and half-serpent, and they threw themselves off the Acropolis of Athens to their deaths.
When he grew up, Erichthonius became the new king of Athens. He married Praxithea, a naiad, and had a son, Pandion I. During this time, Athena frequently protected him. He founded the Panathenaic Festival in the honor of Athena, and set up a wooden statue of her on the Acropolis. According to the Parian Chronicle, he taught his people to yoke horses and use them to pull chariots, to smelt silver, and to till the earth with a plough. He is said to have competed often as a chariot driver in games. Zeus was said to have been so impressed with his skill that he raised him to the heavens to become the constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga) after his death.
Erichthonius was succeeded by his son Pandion I. The snake is his symbol, and he is represented in the statue of Athena in the Parthenon as the snake hidden behind her shield. The most sacred building on the Acropolis of Athens, the Erechtheum, is dedicated to Erichthonius.
The palladion was a statue of Athena that was said to have stood in her temple on the Trojan Acropolis. Athena was said to have carved the statue herself in the likeness of her dead friend Pallas. The statue had special talisman-like properties and it was thought that, as long as it was in the city, Troy could never fall. When the Greeks captured Troy, Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, clung to the palladion for protection, but Ajax the Lesser violently tore her away from it and dragged her over to the other captives. Athena was infuriated by this violation of her protection. Though Agamemnon attempted to placate her anger with sacrifices, Athena sent a storm at Cape Kaphereos to destroy almost the entire Greek fleet and scatter all of the surviving ships across the Aegean.
- Athena is the first boss in the Olympus raid.
- Athena appears as Wonder Woman's mentor and gives her strength after the arena fight in God of Monsters.
- Athena is one of the "Three Virgin Goddesses" (goddesses who did not engage in heterosexual sex) as there is no recorded account of her ever marrying or taking a lover to bed. This was not because she was a "pure" goddess of chastity or regarded sex as a "sin", but simply because she was not as interested in the subject as her other godly kin. That being said, she has once expressed a romantic attraction to the Attic maiden Myrmex and may have mated with her on occasion. However, that ended poorly when Myrmex began boasting that she had invented the plow, one of Athena’s creations, and Athena turned the girl into an ant.
- While both are gods of war, Athena is more associated with just, tactical or defensive war, while Ares is more linked to the bloodshed, carnage and chaos of war.
- While Herakles is often said to be Zeus' favourite son, Athena has often been regarded as his favourite daughter, adviser and his most powerful child.
- Chariclo, who was a devotee of Athena, was a nymph who became pregnant by a shepherd, Everes, giving birth to Tiresias. Tiresias was struck blind by Athena after seeing her naked. Chariclo begged Athena to give his sight back, but the goddess could not undo her curse. She gave him the gift of prophecy instead and made him a prophet.
- Athena's owl was once a princess named Nyctimene. A princess of the island of Lesbos, Nyctimene was raped by her father and she fled to the woods to hide herself in shame. In sympathy, Athena transformed the girl into an owl and appointed her as her animal familiar. Another of Athena's familiars, the crow, was also once a princess (Coronis, a princess of Phocis) whom Athena transformed into a crow to aid her in escaping being raped by Poseidon.
- As with all celestial gods, Athena's power and life force depends on mortal faith. If mortals were to stop giving faith to her and indulging in her "realm of power" (in this case any and all forms of knowledge) she would lose her godhood, her immortality and, eventually, her life and cease to exist.