Athena sprang fully grown from the head of Zeus, her father, to assume her place as the brave, all-seeing, protective warrior goddess and champion of the city-state of Athens. Athena's wisdom, purity and intelligence positioned her in the pantheon of elite Olympian deities and ensured that she would be worshiped across cultures -- as Pallas Athena, the warrior goddess, in Greece, and as Minerva in Roman culture. Athena is associated with the owl, a bird known for its wisdom and keen sight. Homer himself refers to the goddess in "The Odyssey" as "owl-vision Athena."
Stealth and Sight
Owls were thought to possess the supernatural traits of divine sight, because they could see in the dark, and fierceness, because they are formidable hunters who show no mercy to their prey. As predators, they depend on stealth and surprise. Athena was a relentless tactician and fighter whenever Athens was under threat, fearsome and unforgiving in war, but wise and serene, clever with invention and compassionate in peace time. She was an architect of the Trojan horse, which helped to defeat Troy.
Athene Owls and Library Owls
Several species of owls, including the burrowing owl and little owl, are named for the Greek goddess. Athene owls inhabit five continents; one species, a flightless owl from Crete, is now extinct. Owls are also commons icons for erudition and wisdom and used in libraries and the logos of publishing companies and bookstores.
- Davidson College: Natalie Atabek – “The Eyes of Wisdom”
- San Diego State University: The Olympians
- Who's Who in Mythology; Alexander S. Murray
- University of Michigan: Athene cunicularia Burrowing Owl
- BBC Nature: Athene Owls
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Owls
- Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies: Homeric Odyssey: Scroll 1
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