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Everyone’s heard of Athena, right? Even many people who don’t obsess over the details of mythology like yours truly have heard of the virgin goddess of wisdom. She was very popular with the Greeks and remains popular today, but there are still several lesser known legends about her that don’t get mentioned very often.

She had a twin brother

Zeus once had an affair with Metis, daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Metis was noted for her brains as well as her great beauty (Metis translates to “cunning intelligence”), but when she became pregnant with twins, Zeus received a prophecy that her son would overthrow him. Since a similar prophecy had been made about Zeus and his father (and it came true), the king of the gods took this sort of thing seriously. He swallowed Metis before she could give birth, but Hephaestus split Zeus’s head with an ax and Athena burst out, fully grown and shrieking a battle cry.

Hephaestus wanted to marry her

The smith god, Hephaestus, once asked Zeus’s permission to marry Athena (because apparently, Aphrodite just wasn’t good enough). Zeus agreed, under the condition that Athena consented, but she wanted to remain celibate

She wasn’t just Goddess of Wisdom

Athena was also the patron of crafts—pottery, weaving, embroidery—shipbuilding, and the city of Athens. People who were gifted with weaving would say their talents came from Athena.

She had an adoptive son

Hephaestus and Mother Earth had Erichtonius, who Athena agreed to raise. The boy grew up to be the ruler of Athens, which I think we can safely say was no coincidence.

The Oedipus debacle was her fault (kind of)

Once when Athena was bathing in the sacred spring on Mount Helicon, a mortal man named Tiresias came and spied on her while she was naked. Outraged, Athena struck him in the eyes, making him blind. But one of the nymphs attending Athena asked she give him something as a consolation prize. Athena then granted Tiresias the ability of prophecy, which the man later used to inform King Oepidus that he had married his mother.

You see? Bits of lore fall through the cracks for even the most widely known mythological figures. What’s your favorite lesser known fact about Athena, or any Olympian for that matter?

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