I’d really like to do a set of these- all twelve Olympians. But we know how I am on following through with personal art projects. Anyway, here’s the grey-eyed goddess, accompanied with her spear, aegis, and owl.
I recently read that the owl became a symbol for Athene due to its intense stare, comparable to the goddess’s bright grey eyes; so I created an owl-faced design motif around the openings of her helmet. The brow of the helmet features an olive tree; her contribution to the city of Athens and ultimately the reason she was chosen as the city’s namesake.
For her aegis, I combined designs from several sources. I really liked the idea of the cape motif from early Greek art, but I also have always associated the aegis as a sort of breastplate. In the end I split the diff and made the part that was to be Medusa’s head an armored breastplate and fitted that over the scaly cape- best of both worlds if you ask me.
Oswald by Nigel Wedge Via Flickr: The Little Owl (Athene noctua)
This small owl was introduced to the UK in the 19th century. It can be seen in the daylight, usually perching on a tree branch, telegraph pole or rock. It will bob its head up and down when alarmed. In flight it has long, rounded wings, rapid wingbeats and flies with a slight undulation.
In Greek mythology the owl was known to be the mark of the Goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. She was said to be born from the head of Zeus in full armor. Athena’s owl (athene noctua) was known to be the protector in war and to ward off evil it was said that if an owl would fly over an army before war they were destine for victory. This is where the origin of wisdom comes from owl, associating with Athena the goddess of wisdom and her owl. This is also were the name Sophia meaning wisdom originates from. In the early Roman times town’s people would nail dead owls on their door for good luck. They would do this because the owl was known to ward off evil and too bring luck to whoever walked through the door. This was connected with the goddess Athena; reference to good luck, if Athena’s owl would fly over an army before combat it was said to be good luck. And to ward off evil was the fact that all evil things fear Athena for here victories in battles and would recognized the owl as her sign. P.S. don’t nail owls to your door it was in the folk era.
In Greek mythology, a Little Owl baby (Athene noctua) traditionally represents or accompanies Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, or Minerva, her syncretic incarnation in Roman mythology.
Because of such association, the bird — often referred to as the “owl of Athena” or the “owl of Minerva” — has been used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world.