On all the occasions when Athena came to the aid of heroes it was because they were worthy of her esteem, not because of any amorous attraction. Athena was a striking exception to Olympian society because of her absolute chastity. In spite of calumny and insinuations about supposed relations with Helios, Hephaestus and even Hercules, her heart remained insensitive to the pangs of love and she defended her virginity fiercely. Woe to anyone who wounded her modesty!
One day when she was bathing with the nymph Chariclo, Teiresias by chance beheld her. He was guilty of no more than involuntary indiscretion. Athena, nevertheless, punished him by depriving him of his sight. In spite of her companion's plea for pity she refused to revoke her decision, but to soften the harshness of the punishment she conferred upon the unhappy Teiresias the gift of foretelling the future.
Hephaestus became enamored of Athena. One day when the Goddess came to see him about making a suit of armor for her he attempted to violate her. Athena fled, pursued by the limping God, he caught up with her, but she defended herself so effectively that Hephaestus was unable to accomplish his criminal design and, instead, scattered his seed on the earth, which shortly afterwards gave birth to a son, Erichthonius. The child was found by Athena, who brought him up unknown to the other Gods. She enclosed the infant in a basket which she confided to the daughters of Cecrops, forbidding them to open it. One of the sisters, Pandrosus, obeyed; the other two, Herse and Aglauros, could not control their curiosity. But the moment they opened the basket they fled in terror; for around the infant a serpent was coiled. They were stricken with madness by Athena, and flung themselves off the top of the Acropolis. Erichthonius grew to maturity and became king of Athens, where he established the solemn cult of Athena.
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