In Greek religion and mythology, Athena or Athene ( /əˈθiːnə/ or /əˈθiːniː/; Attic: Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnā or Ἀθηναία, Athēnaia; Epic: Ἀθηναίη, Athēnaiē; Ionic: Ἀθήνη, Athēnē; Doric: Ἀθάνα, Athana), also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene ( /ˈpæləs/; Παλλὰς Ἀθηνᾶ; Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη), is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Minerva, Athena’s Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes and is the goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patron of Athens. The Athenians founded the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens (Athena Parthenos), in her honour.
Athena’s veneration as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from the earliest times, and was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. In her role as a protector of the city (polis), many people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias (Ἀθηνᾶ Πολιάς “Athena of the city”). The city of Athens and the goddess Athena essentially bear the same name, “Athenai” meaning “[many] Athenas”.
Athena as the goddess of philosophy became an aspect of the cult in Classical Greece during the late 5th century BC. She is the patroness of various crafts, especially of weaving, as Athena Ergane. The metalwork of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles (Athena Promachos or the warrior maiden Athena Parthenos) as the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust and slaughter—”the raw force of war”. Athena’s wisdom includes the cunning intelligence (metis) of such figures as Odysseus. Not only was this version of Athena the opposite of Ares in combat, it was also the polar opposite of the serene earth goddess version of the deity, Athena Polias.
Athena appears in Greek mythology as the patron and helper of many heroes, including Odysseus, Jason, and Heracles. In Classical Greek myths, she never consorts with a lover, nor does she ever marry, earning the title Athena Parthenos. A remnant of archaic myth depicts her as the adoptive mother of Erechtheus/Erichthonius through the foiled rape by Hephaestus. Other variants relate that Erichthonius, the serpent that accompanied Athena, was born to Gaia: when the rape failed, the semen landed on Gaia and impregnated her.. After Erechthonius was born, Gaia gave him to Athena.
Though Athena is a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without purpose and preferred to use wisdom to settle predicaments. The goddess only encouraged fighting for a reasonable cause or to resolve conflict. As patron of Athens she fought in the Trojan war on the side of the Achaeans.