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Athena and the owl | Athenian red-figure lekythos C5th B.C. | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Athena and the owl, Athenian red-figure lekythos C5th B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art

ATHENA was the Olympian goddess of wisdom, war, heroism and crafts.

This page contains stories of the divine favour of the goddess including the metamorphoses of Nyktimene and Perdix and gifts of the seer Teiresias.

The second "Favour" page continues with descriptions of her patronage and support of the great heroes of myth.


KORONEUS, DAUGHTER OF (Coroneus' daughter) A princess of Phokis (central Greece) who was chased by the lustful god Poseidon. She cried out to Athena and the goddess transformed her into a crow to save her from the rape.

NYKTIMENE (Nyctimene) A princess of the island of Lesbos (Greek Aegean) who was raped by her own father. She fled to the woods and there hid herself in shame. Athena in sympathy transformed the girl into an owl, and appointed her as her animal familiar.

POLYBOIA (Polyboea) A maiden princess of Amyklai in Lakedaimonia (southern Greece) who was carried to heaven by the goddesses Artemis and Athena, and granted immortality.


ARGOS (Argus) A craftsman of Iolkos in Thessalia (northern Greece) who was assisted by Athena in the construction of the ship Argo. [See Athena Favour: the Argonauts]

ASKLEPIOS (Asclepius) The great physician who was given the magical blood of the Gorgon by Athena, to further his craft.

DAIDALOS (Daedalus) A master craftsman and inventor from Athens in Attika (southern Greece) who was instructed in his craft by Athena.

DANAUS & THE DANAIDES An Egyptian prince who fled to the Greek Argolis with his fifty daughters. Athena assisted him in the building of the very first ship. Later, the goddess purified the Danaides for the murder of their husbands.

EPEIOS (Epeus) A Greek warrior of the Trojan War and carpenter, who was inspired by Athena in the construction of the Wooden Horse. [See Athena & the Trojan War: the Wooden Horse]

EURYNOME A princess of Megara (southern Greece) who Athena bestowed with wisdom, wit and skill in weaving. The goddess also won her a find husband.

KORONIDES (Coronides) Two maiden daughters of Orion in Thebes (central Greece) who Athena granted great skill in weaving.

PANDAREUS, DAUGHTERS OF Two princesses of Phokis (central Greece) who Athena instructed in the art of weaving.

PERDIX A craftsman and inventor of Athens in Attika (southern Greece) who was murdered by his jealous uncle Daidalos. Athena transformed the boy into a pheasant as reward for the inventions he had bestowed on mankind.

TEIRESIAS (Tiresias) A lord of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who accidentally came across the goddess Athena as she was bathing and was struck blind. To compensate him for his loss, the goddess made him a great seer, and bestowed various other gifts.


AEETES A king of Kolkhis on the Black Sea. Like Kadmos of Thebes, he received a supply of magical dragon's teeth from Athena to harvest a warrior race.

ERIKHTHONIOS (Erichthonius) A king of Athens (southern Greece) who was raised by the goddess Athena in her temple on the height of the Akropolis. [See Athena & the Birth of Erichthonius]

KADMOS (Cadmus) A king of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who Athena instructed to sow the teeth of a dragon in order to birth a crop of warrior men as lords for the new city.



Gaea, birth of Erichthonius, and Athena | Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C. | Antikensammlung Berlin
Gaea, birth of Erichthonius, and Athena, Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C., Antikensammlung Berlin

LOCALE : Phokis (Central Greece)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 569 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[The crow speaks :] ‘My father was the famous king of Phocis, Coroneus, as the world knows well enough, and I was a princess, and I was wooed (you must not laugh) by many a wealthy man. My beauty doomed me. One day on the shore, pacing across the sand with long slow strides, as I still do, the Sea-God [Poseidon] saw me there, and fell in love with me. In my flight I left he hard firm beach and soon, in the soft sand, was quite worn out--in vain! I cried for help to gods and men. No human heard my voice; a virgin's anguish moved the Virgin's [Athena's] heart and Minerva brought her aid. I raised my arms to heaven; along my arms a sable down of feathers spread. I strove to throw my cloak back from my shoulders: that was feathers too, deep-rooted in my skin. I tried to beat my hands on my bare breast and had no hands nor bare breast any more. And then I ran, and found the sand no longer clogged my feet; I skimmed the surface; in a trice I soared high up into the air; and I was given to Minerva [Athena], her companion without stain.’"


LOCALE : Lesbos (Greek Aegean)

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 204 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Nyctimene, daughter of Epopeus, king of the Lesbians, is said to have been a most beautiful girl. Her father, Epopeus, smitten by passion, embraced her, and overcome by shame, she hid herself in the woods. Minerva [Athena] out of pity changed her into an owl, which, out of shame, does not come into the light but appears at night."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 589 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Nyctimene, she who was made a bird [the owl] for her foul sin, supplants me [the crow] in my place of privilege [as the familiar of Athena]? Or have you never heard the tale, renowned all over Lesbos, how Nyctimene outraged her father's fed? Bird she may be, but shuns the daylight and the watching eye, guilt-cursed, her shame shut in the dark unseen, an utter outcast from the sky's bright sheen."


LOCALE : Amyklai, Lakedaimonia (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 19. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[Depicted on the altar of the Amyklaian, at Amyklai, Lakedaimonia:] on the altar are also Demeter, Kore, Plouton, next to them Moirai (Fates) and Horai (Seasons), and with them Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis. They are carrying to heaven Hyakinthos and Polyboia, the sister, they say, of Hyakinthos, who died a maid."


LOCALE : Unknown (Greece)

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 10. 3 (trans. Frazer) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"And [Asklepios] having become a surgeon, and carried the art to a great pitch, he not only prevented some from dying, but even raised up the dead; for he had received from Athena the blood that flowed from the veins of the Gorgon, and while he used the blood that flowed from the veins on the left side for the bane of mankind, he used the blood that flowed from the right side for salvation, and by that means he raised the dead."


LOCALE : Thebes, Boiotia (Southern Greece)

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 25 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"In Boiotia Orion, son of Hyrieos, had as daughters Metiokhe and Menippe. After Artemis had taken him away from the sight of mankind, they were brought up by their mother. Athena taught them to weave the loom and Aphrodite gave them beauty."


LOCALE : Phokis (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 30. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The daughters of Pandareos . . . were reared as orphans by Aphrodite and received gifts from other goddesses: from Hera wisdom and beauty of form, from Artemis high stature, from Athena schooling in the works that befit women."


Athena writing | Athenian red-figure amphora C5th B.C. | Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich
Athena writing, Athenian red-figure amphora C5th B.C., Staatliche Antikensammlungen

LOCALE : Athens, Attika (Southern Greece)

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 39 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Daedalus, son of Eupalamus, who is said to have received the art of craftsmanship from Athena, threw down from the roof Perdix, son of his sister, envying his skill, because he first invented the saw."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 236 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"A chattering partridge in a muddy ditch watched him [Daidalos] and clapped its wings and crowed for joy--a bird unique and never seen before, a new creation and a long reproach to Daedalus. His sister, never guessing the fate in store, had given her boy to him for training, twelve years old and quick to learn. This lad observed the backbone of a fish and copied it; he cut a row of teeth in a slim blade or iron and a saw was his invention. He too was the first to fasten with a joint two metal arms so that, keeping a constant space apart, while one stood still the other traced a circle. In jealous rage his master hurled him down headlong from Minvera's sacred citadel [the Akropolis], feigning a fall; but Pallas [Athena], who sustains talent, upheld him, changed him to a bird and clothed the lad with feathers as he fell. Even so his talent's darting quickness passed to wings and feet; he kept his former name [Perdix, Greek for partridge]."


LOCALE : Egypt (North Africa) & Argos, Argolis (Southern Greece)

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 12 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"By a great number of wives there were born to Aigyptos fifty sons and to Danaus fifty daughters [the two Kings of Egypt]. When later on they were at variance over the rule, Danaus, in fear of the sons of Aigyptos, under Athena's supervision built a ship (the first man to do so), put his daughters on board and escaped. Putting in at Rhodes, he dedicated the statue of Athena Lindia. From there he went to Argos."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 22 :
"At Zeus' command, Athena and Hermes purified the daughters [of Danaus for the murder of their husbands]."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 168 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Danaus, son of Belus, had fifty daughters by as many wives, and his brother Aegyptos had the same number of sons. Aegyptos wished to kill Danaus and his daughters, so that he alone might hold the paternal kingdom [of Egypt]; he asked his brother for wives for his sons. Danaus, realizing the plot, with Minerva's [Athena's] aid flew from Africa to Argos. Then for the first time Minerva [Athena] is said to have built a two-prowed ship in which Danaus could escape."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 277 :
"First Inventors. Minerva [Athena] first built a two-prowed ship for Danaus in which he fled from Aegyptus his brother."


LOCALE : Megara, Megaris (Southern Greece)

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 7 (from Berlin Papyri No 7497 & Oxyrhynchus Papyri 421) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Eurynome the daughter of Nisos, Pandion's son, to whom Pallas Athene taught all her art, both wit and wisdom too; for she was as wise as the gods. A marvellous scent rose from her silvern raiment as she moved, and beauty was wafted from her eyes. Her, then, Glaukos sought to win by Athena's advising, and he drove oxen [as a bride gift] for her."


LOCALE : Thebes, Boiotia (Southern Greece)

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 6. 7 (trans. Frazer) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Now there was among the Thebans a soothsayer, Teiresias, son of Eueres and a nymph Khariklo . . . and he had lost the sight of his eyes. Different stories are told about his blindness and his power of soothsaying . . . Pherekydes says that he was blinded by Athena; for Khariklo was dear to Athena . . . and [when her son] Teiresias [accidentally] saw the goddess stark naked, she covered his eyes with her hands, and so rendered him sightless. And when Khariklo asked her to restore his sight, she could not do so, but by cleansing his ears she caused him to understand every note of birds; and she gave him a staff of cornel-wood, wherewith he walked like those who see."





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