What Are Athena's Symbols?

Owl Be Back!

Athena's Symbols - The Owl on Tetradrachm Coins
Athena's Symbols - The Owl on Tetradrachm Coins. Tetradrachmas from Athens showing the obverse with the head of Athena (525-430 B.C.) and the reverse of the owl (182-181 B.C.). CC Flickr User Marshall Astor.

The Greek goddess Athena had her fair share of representation, but what exactly symbolized the goddess's presence?

They include:

  • her sacred animal, the well-known owl - often seen on coins from Athens, her favorite city,
  • her aegis, a goatskin breastplate emblazoned with the head of the monster Medusa, which Perseus gave to Athena, his patroness,
  • a round shield, to defend the mistress of warfare,
  • and a helmet - carried in her hand, if not on her head.

    Symbols of Athena also include objects sacred to her, including

    • the rooster or cock,
    • a lance, signifying her role as goddess of tactical warfare,
    • the olive, symbolic of Athens,
    • and a serpent, perhaps the guardian snake of the Athenian Acropolis.

    -Edited by Carly Silver