Although certain scholars have seen in Athena a personification of moisture, analogous to the Hindu Sarasvati, it seems more probable that she was in origin a storm and lightning-Goddess. Hence her normal attribute, the aegis - which in primitive times signified the stormy night - and her epithet as a Goddess 'of the brilliant eyes'. She would thus be analogous to the Vedic Goddess Vach. But Athena very quickly lost this meteorological character.
Her functions are many: she is venerated among the great divinities in her quality of warrior-Goddess, as Goddess of the arts of peace and as Goddess of prudent intelligence.
To Athena the warrior - her oldest manifestation - belong the epithets Promachos ('who fights in the foremost ranks') and Alalcomeneis ('who repulses the enemy'). She is the protectress of towns and the guardian of acropolises.
The pacific Athena protects various industries. She is preeminently the Ergane, or working woman, and is the patron of architects and sculptors, as well as of spinners and weavers. She also protects horses (Hippia) and oxen (Boarmia). The olive tree owed to her its fruit. Her wisdom, which earned her the epithet Pronoia (the Foreseeing), made her the counselor-Goddess (Boulaia) and the Goddess of the Assembly (Agoraia). Athena's emblem is the owl.
Copyright ©1998-1999 Roy George