Athena (in Ionian Greek and more commonly in English, Athene), was a Greek goddess, born, according Hesiod, fully armed from the head of Zeus. Sometimes known as Pallas Athene, she was the virgin goddess of wisdom, women's crafts and ships. Although not warlike, she was more competent at fighting than the god of war, Ares, and always defeated him when they clashed. One of her symbols was the owl.
She and Poseidon were said to have been rivals to be patrons of Athens. Poseidon gave the Athenians the horse, but Athene's gift of the olive tree was considered the greater benefit. The Parthenon in Athens on the Acropolis was built to honor her, and inside there was a huge statue of her during ancient times.
In Homer's Odyssey she was a shrewd advisor to the hero Odysseus supporting him on many occasions to overcome his perils and return home to his island of Ithaca. She is also a character in the Aeneid.
The Romans equated her to their goddess Minerva. Around 135 CE, the Roman Emperor Hadrian founded an academy called the Athenaeum. The name has been adopted by various scientific and literary institutions, and the owl is frequently used for their symbol.