Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

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Athene is usually represented fully draped; she has a serious and thoughtful aspect, as though replete with earnestness and wisdom; the beautiful oval contour of her countenance is adorned by the luxuriance of her wealth of hair, which is drawn back from the temples and hangs down in careless grace; she looks the embodiment of strength, grandeur, and majesty; whilst her broad shoulders and small hips give her a slightly masculine appearance.

When represented as the war-goddess she appears clad in armour, with a helmet on her head, from which waves a large plume; she carries the ægis on her arm, and in her hand a golden staff, which possessed the property of endowing her chosen favourites with youth and dignity.

Athene was universally worshipped throughout Greece, but was regarded with special veneration by the Athenians, she being the guardian deity of Athens. Her most celebrated temple was the Parthenon, which stood on the Minerva


The Minerva of the Romans was identified with the Pallas-Athene of the Greeks. Like her she presides over learning and all useful arts, and is the patroness of the feminine accomplishments of sewing, spinning, weaving, &c. Schools were under her especial care, and schoolboys, therefore, had holidays during her festivals (the Greater Quinquatria), when they always brought a gift to their master, called the Minerval.

It is worthy of notice that the only three divinities [48]worshipped in the Capitol were Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and in their joint honour the Ludi Maximi or great games were held.


Themis, who has already been alluded to as the wife of Zeus, was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and personified those divine laws of justice and order by means of which the well-being and morality of communities are regulated. She presided over the assemblies of the people and the laws of hospitality. To her was intrusted the office of convoking the assembly of the gods, and she was also mistress of ritual and ceremony. On account of her great wisdom Zeus himself frequently sought her counsel and acted upon her advice. Themis was a prophetic divinity, and had an oracle near the river Cephissus in Bœotia.