"I once warned you, Percy Jackson, that to save a friend you would destroy the world. Perhaps I was mistaken."
Athena is the Greek virgin goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, useful arts, and battle strategy. She is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and her symbols include the owl, Aegis, the olive tree, and the snake. Her Roman counterpart is Minerva.
Athena was the daughter of Metis and Zeus. A prophecy had once foretold that Metis would give birth to a son more powerful than his father, which was the god Zeus. This posed a problem as Metis was already pregnant with their first child. To prevent the prophecy from taking place, Zeus tricked Metis into taking the form of a fly and swallowed her. What Zeus did not know was that Metis was pregnant with their daughter. Over time however, Zeus began to suffer from a terrible headache and asked the Titan Prometheus (in some cases it was Hephaestus and Ares) to split his head open to find the problem. Athena sprang fully-grown from Zeus' head in full battle armor, shouting a battle cry. She quickly became Zeus' favorite daughter. In the most ancient account, the Iliad, Athena is the goddess of ferocious and implacable fight, but wherever she can be found, she is a warrior who defends the State and the native land against the enemies coming from outside, and supports the side that is morally right. She is, above all, the Goddess of the City, the protector of civilized life, of artisan activities, and of wisdom. She also invented the bridle, which, for the first time, tamed horses, allowing men to use them.
In Greek mythology, she was one of the most active goddesses. She assisted Odysseus in his journey home from the Trojan War in the Odyssey and made sure the Greeks won the Trojan War in the Iliad by helping the Greeks by giving Odysseus the idea of the Trojan Horse. She also helped heroes like Diomedes, Hercules (in killing the Stymphalian Birds), Jason, and Perseus. Athena is known for helping heroes with cleverness. She believes that warfare should be used as a last resort and often uses her trickery and strategies to overcome her enemies.
Along with Artemis and Hestia, she is one of the three maiden goddesses. She does have demigod children in the series, though they are conceived when her divine thoughts meet the mortal ingenuity of the men she favors, a love which she believes to be the of the purest kind. Her children are then born in the same way she was, quite literally making them brain children. It is unknown if any other goddess can give birth to children in a similar way.
In Greece she was known as Pallas Athena, the name she had inherited from a friend she had accidentally killed. She was also known as Athena Parthenos or Athena the Virgin, which is how she was worshipped at the Parthenon. When she leads in battle, she was known as Athena Promachos. In some places she was known as Athena Alea as she was associated with the ancient goddess Alea.
Athena can be very sympathetic: once, a man saw her bathing, she blinded him, then sent snakes to protect him and gave him supernatural powers to see the future, amongst other things. Athena is a very disciplined, quick thinking, and a wise woman. She is very brilliant and always takes precautions before acting. Percy notes in The Titan's Curse that Athena might be the worst enemy someone could make, even among the gods, as she would never give up or make a rash mistake simply because she hated you. She loves all of her demigod children, and seems to be a caring mother. She is the only known god who claims her children at birth. She gave her daughter Annabeth the gift of a cap that turns the wearer invisible. In one of Percy's dreams in The Battle of the Labyrinth, she is shown to have blessed both Daedelus and his young nephew Perdix. She later punishes Daedelus for killing Perdix by branding him with a partridge (the mark of a murderer).
Athena is also usually kind to other demigods. She often aids heroes on their quests, even helping Percy at one point while he was in the Hoover Dam. Athena is somewhat cold and calculating at times. She voted against letting Percy live in The Titan's Curse, because she didn't want to risk him staying alive. Athena is also known for never giving up, and crossing her is a mistake. When Paris picked Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess instead of her, Athena took the side of the Greeks in the Trojan War and used every power within her to bring him down. In the book, Athena is seen as a strict and proud goddess.
Athena has long hair and intense gray eyes, as described when Percy sees her, and nearly mistakes her for Annabeth. As she is a goddess, she can turn to any form she would like so she will not always look like that. As shown in The Titan's Curse, she is shown as an average looking Park Ranger at the Hoover Dam. She is said to be beautiful and lean. She wears an elegant white dress. It is said Annabeth looks a lot like her mother, and has the same cold stare. In some myths she is said to be able to turn into a white owl. In The Titan's Curse, she is seen with black hair. She is also said to be one of the most beautiful goddesses since many men fawn over her but she uses her powers to do horrible things to them if they do not leave on her first warning. She gets along with Artemis well, being seen having similar personalities and often conduct conversations.
Athena can change into her Roman counterpart of Minerva. Unlike the other gods, as Minerva she is less warlike and militaristic and is instead a goddess of crafts and wisdom. She also remains a maiden goddess in this form, but re-frames from having any children at all, unlike Athena who is able to have "Brain Children." Because the Romans depicted Minerva as a more cerebral and demure goddess, she dislikes the Romans despite being a Roman god, as they took away her military importance and stole her statue.
As a daughter of Zeus, Athena is a very powerful goddess:
- Prowess in Battle: as the Goddess of Battles, Athena is a great warrior, and a master of both armed and hand-to-hand combat, but frequently uses her wisdom to overcome her opponents instead of sheer force. During the first Gigantomachy, she was able to defeat the fire-breathing Enceladus (the most cunning Giant) with the help of Hercules.
- Divine Wisdom: As the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena is very wise, intelligent, and knowledgeable, constantly coming up with brilliant strategies. She was also able to see that Typhon was only a decoy in Kronos' plan to defeat the gods. However, she tends to measure the odds without taking her own or others feelings into account, leading to her voting to destroy Percy in The Titan's Curse (but she was out voted). Due to her wisdom, she was the one Zeus trusted to check on the imprisoned Titans in Tartarus.
- Strategist: She is a skilled tactician (greater than Ares), since unlike him, Athena only uses violence as a last resort.