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The Goddess Athena Trivia Quiz

Mourning Athena

Mourning Athena

Pallas Athena Thea

How much do you know about Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and war? Try this Athena Mythology Trivia Quiz and find out!

Then check out the myths, information, and pictures of Athena following the quiz. By the time you're done, you'll be an Athena expert.

Don't forget to try out some of my other Greek mythology quizzes, too!

Greek Mythology Quiz: Athena

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What was Athena's gift to Athens?
    • The olive tree
    • Smithcraft
    • The horse
    • A good lawyer
  2. Who challenged Athena to a weaving contest?
    • Ariadne
    • Arachne
    • Archie
    • Artemis
  3. Besides the owl, what animal is associated with Athena?
    • Dolphin
    • Hedgehog
    • Snake
    • Turtle
  4. What did Athena do to Ares during the Trojan War?
    • Stole his chariot.
    • Seduced him.
    • Hit him with a rock.
    • Got him drunk.
  5. What does "Pallas" in "Pallas Athena" refer to?
    • Athena's foster-sister.
    • A giant slain by Athena.
    • It means, "maiden, virgin."
    • Any of the above, depending on which ancient Greek author you read.
  6. Athena was a patron of all of the following except...
    • Women
    • Weaving
    • Wisdom
    • War
  7. What color are Athena's eyes?
    • Black
    • Green
    • Gray
    • Purple
  8. What was the aegis of Athena?
    • A Corinthian-style helmet
    • An ash-wood spear
    • A golden lasso
    • A magical goat-skin decorated with the head of Medusa
  9. What instrument did Athena invent?
    • The spinning wheel
    • The flute
    • The banjo
    • The Trojan Horse
  10. Which hero of the Trojan War did Athena NOT help?
    • Odysseus
    • Achilles
    • Ajax
    • Diomedes

Answer Key

  1. The olive tree
  2. Arachne
  3. Snake
  4. Hit him with a rock.
  5. Any of the above, depending on which ancient Greek author you read.
  6. Women
  7. Gray
  8. A magical goat-skin decorated with the head of Medusa
  9. The flute
  10. Ajax
Athena presents olive tree to King Kekrops

Athena presents olive tree to King Kekrops

The Contest Between Athena and Poseidon

Athena's Gift of the Olive Tree to Athens

Greek myths tell how Athena and Poseidon the sea-god competed to determine the patron god of Athens.

Poseidon's gift was a well, but its waters were salty. Athena created the olive tree, which provided wood, fruit, and olive oil used for everything from cooking to lighting.

Athena's gift carried the day, and the city of Athens adopted her and her name. The contest between Athena and Poseidon is a popular motif in art, including the Parthenon sculptures. Modern Greeks say that a descendant of Athena's olive tree still grows on the Acropolis of Athens (see photo gallery above).

Above: Athena, crowned by Nike, presents the olive tree to King Cecrops, founder of Athens.

The Parthenon...at Nashville?

Replica of the Temple of Athena in Athens

Q: What would you do if you wanted to experience a majestic ancient monument just as it looked 2400 years ago?

1. Reconstruct it, tampering with the original.

2. Build a full-sized copy of it in Nashville:

Danae Getting a Visit from Zeus

Danae Getting a Visit from Zeus

Never Tick Off a Goddess, Part I

The contest between Athena and Arachne the weaver

A Lydian weaver, Arachne, boasted that her skill at the loom outstripped that of Athena.

Unfortunately for Arachne, Greek gods have excellent hearing. Descending from Olympus, Athena challenged the human girl to a contest.

The goddess wove a tapestry depicting her gift of the olive to Athens. Around the border she worked images of mortals punished for hubris.

Ignoring the warning, Arachne portrayed scandalous affairs of gods with mortals. The work was good -- flawless, even -- but Athena, enraged, shredded it and struck the girl with her shuttle. Arachne became the first spider.

Above: Vase painting depicting Perseus' mother Danae receiving a "gift" from Zeus.

Athena frees Jason from guardian of the Golden Fleece

Athena frees Jason from guardian of the Golden Fleece

Athena's Sacred Animals: The Owl and the Snake

Symbols of Wisdom and Mystery

Owl makes sense as the sacred bird of Athena, goddess of wisdom, but why the snake?

The association of snakes with powerful goddesses is an ancient tradition, dating back to the Minoan civilization a thousand years before classical Greece.

Snakes have powers of life and death. Their bite can kill. They emerge from the ground as if born from the earth and shed their skins as if sloughing off old age. These ideas are reflected in the serpents (drakontes) of Greek mythology.

Athena's aegis (see below) is fringed with snakes, and the colossal statue of Athena in the Parthenon had an enormous snake coiled inside her shield.

Above: Athena rescues Jason from the guardian of the Golden Fleece. (Alternate myth)

Athena at a Glance - Quick Facts about Pallas Athena

greek-mythology-quiz-athena
  • Goddess of war, weaving, wisdom.
  • Born full-grown and fully armed from the head of Zeus.
  • Mother: Zeus? ( Zeus swallowed pregnant Metis).
  • One of three virgin goddesses.
  • Sacred animals: Owl, snake.
Athena vs. Ares by Jacques Louis David

Athena vs. Ares by Jacques Louis David

Clash of the War Gods

Athena vs. Ares in the Trojan War

In the Iliad, the gods of Olympus take sides. Athena favors the Greeks and her favorite heroes, Achilles and Odysseus, while Ares sides with the Trojans and Hector.

More than once, these two gods come to blows. Both are war-gods: Ares of violence and battle-frenzy, Athena of strategy. In their first face-off, Athena acts as Diomedes' charioteer, shielding him from Ares' spear-cast and guiding the hero's own spear so that it strikes true. Wounded, Ares flees the battlefield.

Later, the two gods face off directly. Blustering, Ares vows vengeance for their last encounter. Athena picks up a rock and clobbers him, reminding him who's boss.

Odysseus steals Palladium under Athena's supervision

Odysseus steals Palladium under Athena's supervision

Pallas Athena: What Does It Mean?

Alternate origins for Athena's most well-known nickname

Most Greek gods, goddeses and heroes have epithets, nicknames. Athena's nickname Pallas is so old that it has several conflicting myths.

Some writers said it was the name of a giant she killed in the battle between the gods and the Titans. If so, the name may derive from the verb pallein, to brandish a spear.

Or it may have been another word for maiden (see the dictionary entry for Παλλὰς Ἀθηναίη).

An alternate myth from northern Africa says that Pallas was Athena's childhood playmate whom she accidentally killed. Grieving, Athena took her friend's name and fashioned the Palladium in her memory, a sacred wooden statue whose presence protected a city.

Athena by Brygos Painter

Athena by Brygos Painter

Athena, Patron of Arts and Smarts

but not really a goddess of women

Wits and craft, military strategy and city-building: Athena is a unique goddess who presides over a man's world. Despite her association with weaving, Athena has little to do with women.

In the Iliad and Odyssey, she mingles with heroes, frequently disguising herself as a man: Hector's brother, Mentor, Telemachus, a shepherd boy, to name a few.

in Aeschylus' play Eumenides, Athena comes down on the side of men and father's rights in a convoluted court case involving murders of mother, husband, and daughter.

Not that she renounces women entirely. Priestesses maintain her cult, feed her sacred snakes, and weave her statue a new gown during the Panathenaia festival. She protects everybody within the city's walls. But her primary sphere is in the public, not the domestic sphere. Back then, women were barely allowed out of the house.

See my essay on "Athena, Misogynist or Feminist?" for a more in-depth discussion.

Head of Athena on a tetradrachm

Head of Athena on a tetradrachm

Gray-Eyed Athena... Or Is It "Flashing-Eyed"?

"Athene Glaukopis" in Greek

Homer sometimes calls her "θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη," the "something-eyed goddess Athena," but it's not clear what he means by γλαυκός, glaukos. Modern translators often translate Homer's use of glaukos as "gleaming" or "flashing." Early Greek writers also use this word to describe the moon, the sea and the stars.

By the time of Plato, glaukopis (γλαυκῶπις) comes to mean "gray-eyed." Γλαυκός indicates a color from bluish-gray to bluish-green (sometimes used to describe olives). So let's stick to what we were taught as school-children and call her eyes gray!

Athena on early Black-figure vase

Athena on early Black-figure vase

The Aegis of Zeus and Athena

Striking terror into her foes

The aegis originally belonged to Zeus, but his powerful daughter Athena usually wields it.

The word aegis means "goat-skin," not a very impressive form of armor for a divinity. I suspect it comes from early rustic traditions before the Greeks took up city life.

Early on, it's described as a shaggy or tasseled garment, but it soon acquires a dangerous fringe of snakes and a scaly surface. The head of Medusa (or some other Gorgon) is another upgrade which can stun or dazzle Athena's foes.

Athena and Marsyas, vase painting vased on a lost Greek statue

Athena and Marsyas, vase painting vased on a lost Greek statue

Athena Gives Up Show Business

Does this flute make my face look fat?

Many myths are aetiological, which means explaining the origin of something.

The invention of the flute (or, actually, pipes) is one of these myths. Greeks trace this instrument to Athena. However, when she caught sight of her reflection in a mirror, she disliked the way her cheeks puffed out, and cast aside the pipes. The satyr Marsyas picked them up. In Athens, a well-known statue depicting this episode; painters frequently use it as a model.

Marsyas also got into trouble for boasting. He claimed to be a better musician than Apollo. The god challenged him to a music contest and had him flayed and turned into a wine-skin for his presumption. Ouch.

Kassandra clutches the statue of Athena, seeking asyium from Ajax

Kassandra clutches the statue of Athena, seeking asyium from Ajax

Never Tick Off a Goddess, Part II

Ajax the Not-So-Great

Athena gets down in the trenches with the boys. She personally assists and watches over Achilles, Odysseus, Diomedes, Telemachus, Perseus, Hercules, Theseus and many other Greek heroes. However, one famous Greek hero of the Trojan War earned Athena's wrath.

There are some things you just don't do, even in war. One of them is to drag away and violate a priestess clinging to a god's statue as a suppliant. When Cassandra took refuge in Athena's shrine, clasping the statue of Athena, Ajax the Lesser did just that. Ironically, he escaped being stoned for this act only by claiming sanctuary at Athena's altar himself.

The goddess bided her time. When the Greeks headed for home, Athena borrowed her father Zeu's thunderbolt and split open Ajax's ship. He might have survived, but he shouted defiance of the gods, and Poseidon finished him off.


Video overview of Athena's myths

Athena Quiz Guestbook - Sophias Philai, "Friends of Wisdom"

wisdomowl on May 14, 2016:

+Got 100 only because of Percy Jackson and reasearch

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on May 31, 2014:

Fun way to learn some interesting mythology.

anonymous on May 20, 2014:

Fascinating lens.

Scindhia from Chennai on May 10, 2014:

Awesome lens and great info!

Lynn Klobuchar on January 14, 2014:

I need a refresher course! Thanks for all of this Athena lore.

Value Apartments from London on January 09, 2014:

Great lens! I only scored 20 but learned something new.

mrdata on January 04, 2013:

Amazing and valuable lens! Big thanks!

makemoneyonline5 on October 25, 2012:

fantastic lens!!

GracoNautilus3-in-1CarSeat on September 06, 2012:

One of best ens i read thise days...Thank you 4 visit my lens.

mysweetjane lm on September 06, 2012:

what a great lens in looks and information!

AstroGremlin on August 27, 2012:

Super cool lens. I only scored 40% but learned a lot about Athena.

TheBeautifulLife on August 24, 2012:

love this lens about greek mythology...

TheBeautifulLife on August 19, 2012:

Very interesting...

VspaBotanicals on August 11, 2012:

Very educational

GeekGirl1 on June 26, 2012:

Fun quiz. Interesting facts about Athena.

Kae Yo on June 21, 2012:

I got half right. Thanks for the fun quiz!

sandi_x on June 20, 2012:

Very interesting

anonymous on June 15, 2012:

I bombed

Kara Hara on June 15, 2012:

Thanks for the interesting quiz

Sojourn on June 14, 2012:

Ah...so I shouldn't have relied on my recently reading the children's books The Olympian series to complete my answers to the quiz! Learned a lot more here and loved the pics! Thanks!

sojourner-1 on June 14, 2012:

Interesting lens- learned some new info

RuralFloridaLiving on May 27, 2012:

Thanks - interesting article

stargoldteam12 on May 21, 2012:

i like the lens and the quiz thanks.

stargoldteam12 on May 21, 2012:

i like the lens and the quiz thanks.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on May 21, 2012:

I enjoyed the quiz. Thank you!

anonymous on April 30, 2012:

Nice lens. And thanks for the quiz.

jwcooney on April 30, 2012:

Great lens, thanks for publishing it! I will need to brush up on my Greek mythology it seems!

AJ from Australia on April 16, 2012:

Mmm. My quiz result reflected a definite need to study up on my Greek mythology. Thank you for starting me off in the next section of your lens. Blessings.

AJ from Australia on April 16, 2012:

Mmm. My quiz result reflected a definite need to study up on my Greek mythology. Thank you for starting me off in the next section of your lens. Blessings.

SteveKaye on April 10, 2012:

Your lens is a work of art. Thank you for publishing it. (Awesome news. Your quiz was number 500 for me, so I won another trophy. Woo Woo!)

mistyblue75605 lm on April 08, 2012:

Awesome information on your lens and very interesting reading. Enjoyed the quiz too! :)0

PecjakJN on March 07, 2012:

very useful leans thanks for sharing.

Kimberly from California on March 05, 2012:

This is a really fun topic. I haven't thought much about Greek mythology since college, but I certainly should!

lesliesinclair on March 05, 2012:

This was fun

WilliamPower on March 04, 2012:

Stuff I didn't know!

Deadicated LM on February 29, 2012:

Awesome Lens, great job. Thanks for all the info.

Renee Jaco Whitfield from Bogalusa, Louisiana , United States of America on February 21, 2012:

love this lens = ] hoping to see some more like it = ] keep up the gd work

Edutopia on February 15, 2012:

Neat quiz, and a great way to make me feel dumb for the day, haha.

AlphaChic on February 10, 2012:

Interesting! Great quiz.

ptnjust007 on February 08, 2012:

great lens

ptnjust007 on February 08, 2012:

great lens

Bob Zau on February 04, 2012:

Another excellent lens. Your quiz proved to me, I'm a bit behind on my Greek Mythology,

Bob Zau on February 04, 2012:

Another excellent lens. Your quiz proved to me, I'm a bit behind on my Greek Mythology,

Malu Couttolenc on January 30, 2012:

Beautiful quiz and page about Athena. I have a Greek Heart, even when Im not Greek. :)

tomskids on January 17, 2012:

Nicely done

SimpleSocialSolution on December 13, 2011:

such vast information and great pictures. thanks

JoyfulReviewer on November 10, 2011:

Thanks for the fun and informative lens ... nicely done!

aquarian_insight on October 31, 2011:

A really enjoyable lens - I had fun but didn't do too well on the quiz.

Stacy Birch on October 29, 2011:

Nice Quiz.

food monkey on October 27, 2011:

fun lens :)

adamfrench on September 22, 2011:

Great lens, thumbs up

Aquavel on September 20, 2011:

Beautiful lens and great quiz about my favorite Goddess!

pramodbisht on July 22, 2011:

Great quiz,had fun,thanks!

anonymous on June 16, 2011:

Great quiz! Athena is my favorite mythological figure! Thanks for sharing!

hysongdesigns on June 04, 2011:

it's been a long time since I studied mythology; missed more than I got right!

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on June 04, 2011:

Thanks for great time and some new knowledge!

pimbels lm on May 26, 2011:

Very interesting, thank you.

Mary from Chicago area on May 16, 2011:

I always thought Athena was kick*ss. 60% on the quiz, though -- would never have gotten that goatskin one...

anonymous on May 03, 2011:

Great

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 16, 2011:

Very enlightening. Thank you!

stirko on April 11, 2011:

great quiz

CathyLou LM on April 08, 2011:

I love Greek mythology. I thought I'd do better in the test but it was a bit more in depth than my knowledge! :)

Bill Armstrong from Valencia, California on April 07, 2011:

Thanks for sharing

rwoman on April 03, 2011:

I just love trivia! Thanks for sharing.

nickymyers on April 02, 2011:

i did not do well on the quiz. haha. but i learned allot. =]

anonymous on March 27, 2011:

Interesting and fun!

dryder on March 02, 2011:

Great lens .. learned a lot!

Cheryl57 LM on January 24, 2011:

4/10, Another area I am not too well versed in!

NanaPoppins LM on January 22, 2011:

Next time I will read the whole page before I take the quiz.. lol Great Lens!

ChrisDay LM on January 21, 2011:

Oh well - back to the drawing board!

Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on January 18, 2011:

Very interesting. I don't know too much about the ancient Greek Gods. I had 6 out of 10 in your quiz, but found some answers in your text.

poppy mercer from London on January 16, 2011:

Oh what an amazing lens...a complete inspiration. Definitely worthy of winning the tier one challenge.

Lemming13 on January 14, 2011:

Fascinating quiz, you caught me out properly. Great lens.

dahlia369 on January 14, 2011:

Wonderful lens, great info!! :)

ElizabethJeanAl on January 10, 2011:

Awesome lens, but I need to go back to the books. 60% is not a good score.

Thanks for sharing,

anonymous on January 05, 2011:

This is almost like re-living "Clash of the Titans"!!!

chocsie on January 02, 2011:

wow. some great info here! although i didn't do so well on the quiz :(

but after reading your lens, i'd probably do great!

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on December 16, 2010:

I certainly learned a lot about Athena from your lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel and featured on my angel lens.

maxnic11 on December 10, 2010:

Good history

MargoPArrowsmith on December 07, 2010:

Nice lens, reminds me of my trip to Athens and other parts of Greece I enjoyed it

John Dyhouse from UK on November 27, 2010:

wonderful shows the way to go! lots of great detail

BelindaBlevins on November 21, 2010:

I thought I knew Athena better than that, ouch

jp1978 on November 21, 2010:

10%, and I call myself a fan of Greek mythology!

MamaChelsea on November 10, 2010:

Ouch, 30%! Guess I don't remember as much as I thought I did!

Karen Kay from Jackson, MS on November 10, 2010:

Wow! I'm a dunce! 50 on the quiz :( but thanks for the interesting lens! Cool stuff!

ICanCook on November 10, 2010:

What an education! Thank you. I learned a lot here.

rwoman on November 10, 2010:

Great lens, beautiful and informative!

Tamara14 on November 07, 2010:

I've learned so much. Thanks a lot for such a great lens.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on November 07, 2010:

I did not know nearly enough about Athena as I thought I did.

Jack on November 05, 2010:

I took some Greek mythology classes when I was in school. It's interesting. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

Sarah Switalski from Iowa on November 04, 2010:

Oh boy, only 40% but I learned a lot! You have been blessed by an angel and will be added to my angel lens :)

Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on November 03, 2010:

You make the best lenses. I'm going to have to come back to finish... there is so much here. Beautiful!

anonymous on November 03, 2010:

haha 40% but learn a lot

gia combs-ramirez from Montana on November 02, 2010:

Amazing, amazing, amazing....and blessed!

RinchenChodron on November 02, 2010:

Wow did I learn a lot on this lens. Very interesting. You simplified it for me.

AmbrosiaPopsicle on October 31, 2010:

I love greek myths and legends, as you can tell :) Thank you so much for the fun and informative lens!

Ellen Brundige (author) from California on October 27, 2010:

@NoYouAreNot: Sorry! For some reason this website doesn't understand the Greek alphabet. But thank you for your comments, and for explaining glaukos and glaux. I studied ancient Greek, but I've forgotten so much. Even if I remembered, studying is no match for knowing a language from birth!

I understand just what you mean about the sea. I remember a stormy day in Nauplio, and the Bay of Korinth looked like steel. I need to go back. Long enough to learn modern Greek, perhaps.

Eucharisto!

mikerbowman on October 26, 2010:

Great lens! Athena is my favorite mythological figure.

NoYouAreNot on October 21, 2010:

Ooops! Trial-and-error, isn't it called? I just found out (the hard? way) that I cannot use the greek keyboard on squidoo comments. The ????? word : ) is "glaukos" for the colour of the sea and "glaux" (gen.: "glaukos") for the owl.

Well, I'm only a few minutes' newcomer to the site -- I hope I'll do better in the future.

(The funny thing: The comment I posted was, among others, about Athena's favourite bird. Then, the security code I was asked to enter was "birdgeek". Gee! Is Squidoo that much interactive????)

NoYouAreNot on October 21, 2010:

About Athena's eyes: You are very right in mentioning both the Light-association and the Grey-colour association. In fact, in our modern greek language the word γλαÏκÏÏ (blue-grey) also refers to the colour of the sea, such as it appears under a cloud-ladden sky, for example. And there's more to this word: Athena's beloved bird, the owl, in ancient greek (and in the "catharevousa", the language used by the more educated people and the academics even up to 1974 - or was it 1976?) was called γλαÏξ (gen.: γλαÏκÏÏ) and it is also known for its big, luminous eyes.

Cheers to you again for your lovely pages