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Quick Facts on Athena

  • Gender:
  • Girl
  • Origin:
  • Greek
  • Number of syllables:
  • 3
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 218
Simple meaning:
Sharp praise, Lady of Athens, wisdom

Characteristics of Athena

  • Dependable
  • Solid
  • Practical
  • Hard-working
  • Industrious
  • Studious
  • Conservative

Etymology & Historical Origin - Athena

In ancient Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of wisdom and patroness deity to Athens, Greece (the Romans called her Minerva). The name is likely derived from the Greek words “ather” meaning ‘sharp’ and “aine” meaning ‘praise’. It’s no wonder that the Greeks had ‘sharp praise’ for this multifaceted goddess; her story is one of the more interesting in mythological tradition. For one, Athena was the favorite daughter of Zeus, sprung full grown and armored from his forehead. Zeus loved her more than all the other gods and so gave her a magnificent shield decorated with the terrifying face of Medusa. Bright-eyed and powerful, Athena was the goddess of knowledge, agriculture and arts. The Athenians were most devoted to this goddess and so named their city-state in her honor; they also built her a temple, the Parthenon on the Acropolis – the ruins of which still stand today 25 centuries later! According to Greek legend, the Athenians picked Athena as their patron goddess (over the sea god Poseidon) when she offered them the first domesticated olive tree. There are so many vibrant narratives involving Athena from ancient times (see literary references below for more detail). Mainly worshipped as the goddess of wisdom and knowledge, she was also a warrior goddess. One of the world’s oldest cities, Athens was revered in ancient times as a center of Hellenistic arts, education and philosophy. It was home to Plato and Aristotle. It was the cradle of western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. And Athena was its wise leader.

Popularity of the Name Athena

Athena made her first appearance on the U.S. popularity charts in 1955. The name has always just sort of bounced around moderately low levels of usage. Athena is an exotic name and therefore less commonly used. As we’ve entered the 21st century, the name has shown some upwards momentum on the charts, but still only somewhat lightly used. We see this as a name for erudite parents and lovers of Greek mythology. Athena was a highly important goddess and her name is loaded with significance and vitality. In ancient Greece, Athena was rivaled only by Hera (Queen of the gods and Zeus’ wife), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty), Hestia (goddess of hearth and home), Demeter (goddess of grain and fertility) and Artemis (goddess of the hunt). Athena was the goddess of strategic warfare, the arts, cities, skill, wisdom and justice. She was fierce and brave in battle, but only in fights against outside enemies of the state. Above all, Athena is associated with wisdom, and her namesake Athens, Greece represented the breeding ground for intellectuals and philosophers. Parents who so boldly bestow the striking name Athena upon their daughters must surely have high hopes for her intelligence.
Popularity of the Girl Name Athena
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Athena

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Athena

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Athena

    Athena (and the Judgment of Paris) The king of all gods Zeus threw a party but didn’t invite Eris (goddess of discord). Can you blame him? No party-poopers allowed, thank you. Angered by this snub, Eris showed up at the banquet anyway and threw an apple into the crowd. The apple said simply: “For the fairest one”. What do you think happened? Hera, Athena and Aphrodite attempted to claim the apple, each believing themselves to be the prettiest. They finally asked Zeus to be the judge, but Zeus wisely doesn’t want any part of this no-win situation knowing he’ll forever lose the favor of whichever two he doesn’t pick. The clever god of gods devises a plan that the mortal prince of Troy, Paris, will be the judge. Each of the goddesses appears before Paris offering gifts hoping to be the one he chooses. Hera was prepared to offer ownership over all of present-day Europe and Asia. Athena offered wisdom and skill in battle. But Aphrodite had the ancient business savvy to offer Helen, the most beautiful woman on earth. Who do you think Paris chose? Typical guy. He chose Aphrodite because he wanted the beautiful Helen for himself. The rest, as they say, is ancient history.

    Athena (and the Legend of Arachne) Athena was also the goddess of skilled work, particularly weaving. In Greco-Roman mythology as presented by Ovid in his “Metamorphoses”, Arachne was a mortal whose weaving skill was so great that the nymphs would come to “watch her wondrous work”. The girl boasted that her skill had nothing to do with the goddess (which of course deeply angered Athena). Athena disguised herself as an old lady and approached the girl, suggesting a contest between the two weavers. When Arachne scoffed at the old lady and demanded the goddess come herself, Athena revealed herself. The impertinent young girl had no fear of the goddess, believing her own skill to be superior to Athena’s. Once the contest was over, Athena was envious of Arachne’s skill and magnificent tapestry that she ripped it up and raged against the girl. In the end, Athena spared Arachne’s life by turning her into a spider (Arachne is the Greek word for spider) where she weaves her web for eternity.

    Athena (and the Legend of Medusa) One version of the Medusa myth comes to us from the Roman poet Ovid, in his “Metamorphoses” (completed in 8 AD). Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, and as Ovid puts it: “Her beauty was far-famed, the jealous hope / Of many a suitor, and of all her charms / Her hair was loveliest.” [IV.793-795]. She was also the priestess of Athena’s temple where Medusa is “violated” by Poseidon. Having felt her own temple was thus dishonored, Athena was furious. In retribution, she turned Medusa’s beautiful hair into loathsome snakes and her face so ugly to behold that it would turn onlookers into stone. Athena had the face of Medusa on her shield in order that it would “strike her foes with dread”. Athena is also credited with helping the Greek hero Perseus kill the Gorgon Medusa, by giving him a polished shield so that he may approach the terrifying creature without being turned to stone.

    Athena (and the Trojan War) Athena was particularly fond of the Greek hero Odysseus for his cunning intelligence, a virtue she herself embodied. So it was she who inspired the famous war tactic of the Trojan horse which of course lead to the fall of Troy and the triumph of the Greeks. However, another legend purports that as the Greeks were sacking Troy, they defiled one of her alters. Deeply angered, Athena called upon the sea god, Poseidon, to destroy the bulk of the Greek’s fleet as they were returning home.

    Athena (goddess of Athens) In one mythological legend, Athena and Poseidon (god of the sea) were in a dispute over which of them would preside over Athens. Zeus, eager to avoid clashes among the gods on Olympus, proposed a contest between his brother and his daughter whereby the people of the polis would judge for themselves. Athena and Poseidon were each charged with presenting a gift to the people, and the god who offered the most useful gift to the city would be granted the title of patron god(dess) of the area. Poseidon, the god of the sea, formed a freshwater spring at the citadel. Athena, however, sprang an olive tree from the ground. The olive tree serves many uses (fine wood, olive oil, medicinal benefits, the olive leaf and olive fruit) and so was chosen as the most useful gift. From then on, Athens became her namesake and she their goddess. She was also given credit for the many inventions produced from this inspired city-state, including the chariot and the art of navigation.

  • Popular Songs on Athena

    Popular Songs on Athena

    Athena - a song by The Who

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Athena

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Athena

    Athena (Blake A. Hoena) - Introduce young readers to the ancient Greek and Roman explanations for how and why things happen and how mythology influences us today. Recommended for ages 7-10.

    Athena (Russell Roberts) - The ancient Greeks worshiped a complex group of deities, weaving their characters into timeless tales of love, heroism, and intrigue. Plays, poems, paintings, and sculptures commemorating these tales have survived for centuries. Even as world religions and scientific knowledge have evolved, bringing with them new beliefs and understanding of the world, the ancient Greek tales continue to provide a basic foundation for Western thought and sharp insight to the human psyche. Athena appeared in many Greek myths, having major roles in Homer s Iliad and Odyssey and in ancient plays dealing with justice and democracy. Born from Zeus head, she was a contradictory figure in many ways. She was the goddess of war and a protector of civilization. She was capable of being a good friend to humans, yet she could also be fiercely vindictive and hand out punishment to men and women alike without a second thought. Temples were raised to her throughout Greece, including the famous Parthenon. The city of Athens, a military power and cultural center, embodied the goddess for whom it was named. Recommended for ages 11-15.

    Athena and the Olive Tree (Geraldine McCaughrean) - These powerful and drama-packed retellings feature a host of well-known Greek gods and goddesses, magically brought to life by Tony Ross's lively illustrations. Athena and the Olive Tree/Who is the Fairest One of All?/The Woman No One Believed: Athena, goddess of war, and Poseidon, god of the sea, battle for ownership of a brand new city. And powerful Zeus decides it's time to play games with the world's population of mere mortals...Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Athena the Brain: Goddess Girls (Joan Holub) - In Athena the Brain, Athena always knew she was smart and special, but she didn’t realize that she was a goddess! When she’s whisked away to Mount Olympus Academy, she worries about fitting in and dealing with her dad (Zeus). Luckily, she meets the Goddess Girls and finds the best friends she’s ever had. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Athena the Wise: Goddess Girls (Joan Holub) - Well-researched and true to the original myths, each volume in the Goddess Girls series addresses contemporary issues, like friendships and relationships, from a classically accurate—and entertaining—perspective. In Athena the Wise, Principal Zeus asks Athena to help Heracles (aka Hercules in the Roman pantheon) complete his twelve labors. But when Heracles starts borrowing Athena’s friends’ belongings without asking, will she be able to help him set things straight? And in Aphrodite the Diva, an exchange student from Egypt, Isis, is encroaching on Aphrodite’s match-making turf. Will she also edge Aphrodite out of her group of friends? Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Athena's Curse (Stacey Darlington) - Is it a curse or a gift of the gods? Thirteen-year-old Asudem has a hard enough time having snakes instead of hair but now her eyes have a burning new power that turns living things into stone. She sets out across the most dangerous part of Lower Olympus to learn how she got this infuriating ability. Her best friends, Drella the Goddess of Chaos and Vanity and Pretal the Lion Goddess, join her as she battles past the most terrifying monsters of Greek mythology on her journey to find the answers. Can she discover where she fits in this world of gods and goddesses? Recommended for ages 9-12.

    My Cherry Girl: Athena Demos (Athena Demos) - "Yeiá sou. Hi I'm Athena Demos." Meet My Cherry Girls: Zen, Isis, Maria, Athena & Farley. Experience the world through the eyes of multi-cultural, ethnically diverse 8 year olds. Girl Power is what they represent! My Cherry Girl Athena Demos is Greek girl born in America. She shares, with you, her own unique childhood growing up in Washington, D.C., USA. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera (Doris Orgel) - In "life" they hardly got along, but their book is a triumph of witty, robust, spell-casting collaboration. The Greek myths have never before been told by their leading ladies. Nor ever before in such a charming, conversational yet dramatic and modern way. The tellings of Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera intertwine (though none repeats a myth), enabling us to hear more than one perspective on events and motives -- say, for instance, their wrangle over the golden apple and the outbreak of the Trojan War. And the cast of Olympian, mortal, and animal characters is unforgettable, as it has been since the times of Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid, whose originals are the author's first sources here. Recommended for ages 10-14.

  • Famous People Named Athena

    Famous People Named Athena

    Famous People Named Athena - Athena Chu (actress/model); Athena Massey (actress); Athena Tacha (artist); Athena Tarsouli (writer)

  • Children of Famous People Named Athena

    Children of Famous People Named Athena

    Famous People Who Named Their Daughter Athena - Christina Onassis (Greek heiress); Owen Hart (wrestler)

  • Historic Figures

    Athena - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Athena - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Athena.

Personality of the Girl Name Athena

The number Four personality is marked by stability and discipline. This is the personality that follows the rules and is conservative by nature.  They have an earth-bound energy that prefers to build things methodically on top of firm foundations; they don't cut corners. Fours take their time and don't like to be hurried. But the outcome of their endeavors is likely to result in some strong and useful structure, which makes them great engineers and inventors. Fours are anything but frivolous or controversial. This is a trustworthy, straight-forward personality that embodies dedication and organization. They are the backbone and anchor in their relationships, careers and communities. They are tidy, punctual, and full of integrity. Hard-work comes naturally to a Four and they are immensely reliable. This is the personality you can always count on.

Variations of the Baby Name - Athena

  • No Variations Found.
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