The Ancient Myths about Athena

From Thomas Bulfinch's Mythology

Athena at the Carnegie Museum
Athena at the Carnegie Museum. CC Flickr User Sabbath Photography

In his mythology (The Age of Fable: Vols. I & II: Stories of Gods and Heroes. 1913), Thomas Bulfinch uses the Roman name Minerva for the Greek goddess Athena.

Chapters from Bulfinch that Feature Athena:

  • Chapter 14
    Arachne and the Weaving Contest With Athena
    The beginning of this chapter details Athena's skills, her special connection with Athens, and her birth from the head of her father Zeus. The chapter goes on to describe a contest between a mortal woman, Arachne, and Athena. It follows with another challenge made by a mortal against a goddess, but the goddess is not Athena.
  • Chapter 15
    Medusa
    Bulfinch has already identified Athena in the previous chapter, so in this one, Athena is introduced as the goddess challenged by Medusa to a beauty contest. Regardless of who was more beautiful, Athena had to punish Medusa, which she did by turning her into a monster. Then, when the hero Perseus goes off to slay the monster, Athena comes to his assistance by lending him her shield -- the one he uses as a mirror so he can decapitate without being turned to stone
  • Chapter 30
    Odysseus and Athena
    In this chapter, Bulfinch is describing the adventures of Odysseus. Odysseus has returned to Ithaca but doesn't recognize it until Athena in disguise tells him where he is. The chapter describes Odysseus' return to his home where he finds and eventually slays the suitors who have been harassing his wife.

Elsewhere in Bulfinch, Athena plays minor roles:

  • Chapter 16
    Athena invents thunderbolts and deals with the winged horse Pegasus.
  • Chapter 20
    Theseus blames Athena for abandoning Ariadne and sets up the Panathenaea to honor her.
  • Chapter 2
    Here Athena helps Prometheus steal fire to give to mankind.
  • Chapter 19
    Athena and Hermes accompany Hercules to the Underworld.
  • Chapter 7
    In this chapter, Bulfinch invents a conversation between Aphrodite and her son in which she names Athena as one who defies her.