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Athena/Athene, Pallas Athena

Velletri Pallas or Athena of Velletri

There is actually a type of statue of the goddess Athena wearing her helmet known as "Velletri," so the statue above in the Louvre is referred to as Athena of Velletri or Velletri Pallas. These mass-produced first century AD Roman copies of a lost Greek bronze statue (thought to have been created by Kresilas c. 430 BC) get their names from their most famous representative discovered in 1791 in the ruins of a Roman villa in a vineyard near Velletri.

Athena (Aθήνη), is the goddess of wisdom, warfare, strength, strategy, courage, skill, civilization, female arts, weaving and justice. Revered from the earliest times as the virgin patron and protector of Athens, the Athenians built the Parthenon on the Acropolis for her in her honor. Known as a great helper of mortal heroes, Athena helped Perseus behead Medusa, Jason win the golden fleece (see picture below), Odysseus win back Penelope, and Heracles capture Cerberus. Like Zeus her weapons are the Aegis and the thunderbolt.

Athena accidentally killed an ambiguous someone named Pallas and took his or her name in mourning. This unknown Pallas is alternately her father, her companion, a sister, foster sister, or an opponent in battle, and is sometimes a nymph, a childhood friend, or a daughter of Triton (the sea god and son of Neptune, Athena's brother).

There are also many gods with the name "Pallas":

1) the Titan son of Crius and Eurybia, husband of Styx;

2) a Giant killed by Athena when he tried to rape her, an act also
                 attributed to Pallas 1 who is sometimes Athena’s father;

3) Athena’s sister, daughter of Triton whom Athena accidentally killed;

4) the goddess Pallas Athena, so named in honor of Pallas 3, or after
                 Pallas 1 or 2 with whose skin she covered her shield, the Aegis;

5) the son of Evander and ally of Aeneas;

6) the son of Lycaon and grandfather of the same Evander;

7) the father of Selene and the son of Megamedes; and

8) one of fifty sons of the Athenian king Pandion.

Jason, Athena and the Golden Fleece

Jason and the Drakon, red-figured cup by Douris, c. 480 BC. "The Dragon of Kholkis disgorges the hero Jason. Behind it the Golden Fleece hangs from a tree. Athene oversees the scene, holding a small owl and wearing her gorgon-headed aegis. From the lost work of an ancient poet." Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano.

Athena’s birth is unique. Either the parthenogenetic daughter of the Titan Metis (wisdom/knowledge), or the daughter of Metis by Zeus, Zeus swallowed the pregnant Metis whole to avoid a prophecy that any offspring of Metis would be greater than he. Metis gave birth to Athena and nurtured her inside Zeus, until to end a "splitting" headache the blacksmith god Hephaestus split Zeus’ head open with his axe and Athena sprang fully armored from Zeus’ forehead. Pallas is one of the Dodekatheon or Olympians, one of the 12 gods who reside on Mt. Olympus.

Some clever mortals devised a competition between Poseidon and his sister, Athena. The two immortals were to devise gifts for the mortals, who in turn would show eternal gratitude to the victor of the contest. Athena created the olive tree and Neptune, after piecing the ground with his trident to produce the spring at the Acropolis, invented the horse. The entire citizenry of Athens voted; all the men voted for Poseidon, while all the women voted for the goddess. Since there was one more woman, Athena won the contest by one vote. Poseidon was so angry that he flooded the entire region of Attica. To appease his anger Athena decreed that women were not allowed to vote in future elections—an interesting ruse having just won by a female majority. Athens was named after the contest winner, but Neptune’s gift of the horse changed the Greek world forever.

Athena also figures in the Judgment of Paris: Zeus held a banquet at the wedding of Achilles’ parents Thetis and Peleus to which all the gods were invited except Eris/Discord. Angry, Eris threw an apple among the guests labeled "To the Fairest." Hera, Athena and Aphrodite all claimed the apple, and Zeus wisely chose Paris, prince of Troy, to mediate. Hera offered him Asia and Europe, Athena wisdom and skill in war, but Paris chose Aphrodite who merely offered him the most beautiful woman on Earth, Helen of Sparta, wife of Menelaus, brother to Agamemnon commander of the Greeks. The rest is history.

The asteroid Pallas is named after Pallas Athena. Discovered as it passed by Ceres, Pallas is the second largest asteroid, with a mass 29% less than Vesta’s. Its orbit is by far the most inclined of the larger asteroids and the eight largest TNOs except Eris. Astrologically, the asteroid Pallas symbolizes the critical faculty, is independent, mental and discriminating, and enjoys debate.

This Athena/Athene, Pallas Athena page and much of this 600-page resource website are taken from You and the Universe, a personalized 342-page fine art book on astrology, mythology and astronomy through which the recipient's entire astrological reading is woven.


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© Carl Woebcke: Athena/Athene, Pallas Athena, 1991-2017. All rights reserved.