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Patron goddess of Athens in Attica and of Athens in Boeotia. She was also worshipped in many other places in Greece. In Athens (Attica) the third day of every month was celebrated as the birthday of Athena. A festival of Chalceia also took place on the 30th day of the month Pyanopsion at Athens; it was celebrated in honor of Athena in her role of mistress of technology and in honor of Hephaestus, god of the smiths. The festival of Callynteria was the spring cleaning of the temple of Athena at Athens, which took place in the month of Thargelion (probably the 24th day). On the 25th day of Thargelion, the Plynteria (Festival of Washing) took place at Athens, when the image of Athena (and possibly her robe) was ceremonially washed. A sacrifice to Athena was undertaken by the Attic deme Teithras on the 27th day of the month Boedromion, with another sacrifice by the Attic deme Erchia on the ninth day of the month Gamelion. The deme Erchia also made a sacrifice to Athena Polias (Athena protector of the city) on the third day of the month Skirophorion. Athena had three main festivals: the Arrephoria, the Scirophoria and the Panathenaea (Herrington, 45-59).


In addition to being protector of citadels and cities, Athena was regarded as a virgin war goddess, a patron of arts and crafts and the personification of wisdom. She is usually portrayed in armor with a spear and shield, often with an owl on her shoulder. She was sometimes known as Pallas Athene, an obscure name possibly meaning “maiden” or “brandisher of weapons.” She had several epithets, including Glaukopis (owl-faced or bright-eyed), Parthenos (virgin), Promachos (fighter in the front ranks), Alalcomeneis (repulses the enemy), Ergane (working woman), Hippia (protector of horses), Nike (victorious), Agoraia (goddess of the assembly) and Tritogeneia (meaning unclear, but appears to link Athena with water). As Athena Parthenos she had a major temple on the Acropolis of Athens, now known as the Parthenon. Pheidias erected on the Acropolis a colossal bronze statue of the armed Athena Promachos (Champion). At Corinth she was worshipped as Chalinitis (the Bridler), and at Sparta Athena Poliachos (protector of the city) was worshipped as Chalcioecus (living in a brazen shrine).

This important Greek goddess was the guardian of the city of Athens—whose name she shared—and the patron of wisdom, handicraft, and the disciplined aspect of war. Athena was worshipped on the Acropolis of several Greek cities, including Argos and Sparta. But her most significant shrine was on the Athenian acropolis, where a succession of temples culminated, in 438 BCE, in the building that is the gem of ancient architecture: the Parthenon, or Temple of Athena the Virgin.

As goddess of organizational wisdom, Athena was thought to guide the typical Greek city-state (not only Athens). Her cult titles included Boulaia, “goddess of the council,” and Polias, “goddess of the city.” In these functions she resembled Zeus, who was god of cosmic order and whose titles included Poleios, “lord of the city.” In later ...
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