Divine birth: Athena, born from her father’s head

Athena (Minerva), the goddess of war and wisdom, had a strange birth. Her father Zeus (Jupiter) had swallowed his pregnant consort Metis (“wisdom”), because he was afraid she would bear a son who would overthrow him. Then he developed a severe headache that nothing would cure. So Hephestos, god of fire and blacksmiths, took an axe and split open Zeus’ head (an approach not recommended for the milder forms of headache or migraine).

Out sprang Athena, fully grown, a beautiful young woman in full armor and carrying a spear, announcing her arrival with a loud war cry. The manner of her birth allegorically defines her basic nature. Having arisen from the head of a god, she is wise. Being born from a male and not from a female, she maintains a special bond of affection with her father, protects male heroes and champions of male causes. She is a powerful goddess of war and has remained a virgin.

 

Birth of Minerva
The birth of Minerva
René-Antoine Houasse

 


the birth of minerva birth of minerva

The birth of Minerva
From the Emblem book titled Parvus Mundus, published in 1579

Birth of Athena who emerged from Zeus’ head, 550–525 BCE
Detail an Attic black-figured amphora
Louvre Museum

 


 

George Dunea, MD, Editor-in-Chief  (Fall 2012)

Divine birth: Aphrodite born from the foam of the sea
Divine birth: Athena, born from her father’s head
Divine birth: Pegasus, born from Medusa’s blood
Divine birth: The birth of Santa Claus
Divine birth: Eve, fashioned from Adam’s rib
Divine birth: birth of John the Baptist
Divine birth: The birth of Moses

 

Highlighted in Frontispiece Fall 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 4
Hektorama  | Birth, Pregnancy, & Obstetrics