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Tales beyond belief

The Symbols of Athena - the Significance of the Owl
Athena honored the owl by making him her favourite among feathered creatures, impressed by its great eyes and solemn appearance. Athena's bird was a Little Owl, (Athene noctua) which protected and inhabited the Acropolis of Athens in great numbers.

As the symbol of the goddess, the Owl was seen as a protector and symbols of the owl accompanied Greek armies to war and providing determination and inspiration. If an Owl flew over Greek Soldiers before a battle it was seen as a sign of victory.

The Symbols of Athena
In the sculptures, vases, mosaics and paintings of Greek Art the goddess Athena was often illustrated with images representing her symbols the owl, her chariot, weapons and armor, the serpent or snake and the olive tree. She invented the plow, bridle, rake, ox yoke, chariot, and flute. The snake is the symbol of the creative power of wisdom. The aegis, a  shield depicting the head of Medusa, represents its protective power. The helmet and spear relate to the fact that wisdom and strategy is the key to victory in war. The symbols of Athena were:

  • The Owl
    • The symbol of the owl is closely associated with wisdom and victory
  • The Olive Tree
    • The symbol of the olive tree relates to the gift she offered to Cecrops, the first king of Athens
  • The Serpent or Snake
    • The snake or serpent is often depicted at the feet of the goddess as a symbol of the creative power of wisdom
  • The Symbols of weapons and armor - Helmet and Spear
    • The weapons reflect the strategic approach of the goddess and her preparation for war - a symbol of victory
  • The Aegis
    • The Aegis was a small shield bearing and engraving of the head of Medusa
  • The Chariot
    • The goddess was credited with inventing the chariot

Myths and Legends about Athena in Greek Mythology
The most famous myths and legends relating to Athena are:

  • The Myth relating to the 'Apple of Discord' that started the chain of events that led to the Trojan War

  • The story of the boastful Arachne, who was turned into a spider

  • The myth of the myth of Cadmus and the dragon's teeth

  • Her conflicts with Ares, the god of war

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