When Zeus swallowed his wife Metis she had been about to give birth to a child. Shortly afterwards Zeus was tortured by an intolerable headache. To cure him Hephaestus - split open his skull with a bronze axe and from the gaping wound, shouting a triumphant cry of victory, sprang Athena - fully armed and brandishing a sharp javelin. At the sight, all the Immortals were struck with astonishment and filled with awe. Great Olympus was profoundly shaken by the dash and impetuosity of the bright-eyed Goddess. The earth echoed with a terrible sound, the sea trembled and its dark waves rose. . .
In Crete they said that the Goddess had been hidden in a cloud and that it was by striking this cloud with his head that Zeus had caused Athena to emerge. The event was supposed to have taken place near Cnossus beside a stream, the Triton: whence the epithet Tritogeneia (born of Triton) often given to Athena. It was also explained by making her the daughter of Poseidon and of Lake Tritonis. Finally some said that Athena's father was the giant Pallas whom she had killed because he wished to ravish her. But these various relationships were dubious and it was generally agreed that Athena was the daughter of Zeus, engendered by the God himself.
This birth, in which she had played no part, infuriated Hera who, in reprisal, gave unassisted birth to the monster Typhon.
Athena was Zeus' favorite child. His preference for her was marked and his indulgence towards her so extreme that it aroused the jealousy of the other Gods.
You has fathered, says Ares to Zeus a rash and foolish daughter who delights only in guilty acts. All the other Gods who live on Olympus obey you and each of us submits to your will. But she, to you never curbs neither by word nor deed; she does as she pleases.
Copyright ©1998-1999 Roy George