Athene, known in Latin as Minerva, also known as the Motherless Maiden, is the virgin Goddess of Forethought, wisdom, war, art, and things and institutions which distribute wise counsel and civilize people. She maintains and protects law and justice, and has an interest in everything which produces strength, abundance, and stability in the state. Along with Zeus and Hera, She is one of the three patrons of the city of Rome.
Goddess of Forethought
In mythology Athene is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, who give Her the traits of surpassing ascendancy and wisdom. Zeus swallowed Metis whole while She was pregnant out of fear that She would give birth to a son that would overthrow Him, just as He overthrew His own father. Eventually, the divine Zeus experienced a tremendous headache, which was only relieved Hephaistos then split Zeus’ head open with an axe, allowing Athene to emerge, fully matured and clad in full battle-gear.
Role in the Cosmos
The myth of Athene’s birth is interpreted by Julian as Athene having been “sent forth from [Zeus-]Helios whole from the whole of Him, being contained within Him.” Athene is subsumed into Zeus-Helios, the divine Mind (Nous), and is His intelligence in perfect form. She is, so to say, the mind of the divine Mind. (Iulianus 1962 I, 407-409)
Due to Athene’s role as the Forethought of Zeus-Helios, She is responsible for unifying the Gods in Zeus-Helios. She “binds together the Gods who are assembled about Helios and brings them without confusion into unity with [Zeus-]Helios,” (Iulianus 1962 I, 409) which makes every activity of the Gods stem from Zeus-Helios, with whom they are one with. This organizing role means that Athene orders the Gods represented by the seven planets and all the stars in the heavens, known as the Encosmic Gods, and to fill them all with practical wisdom, from the highest vault of the heavens all the way to the moon (Selene), who is the last of the heavenly spheres. (Iulianus 1962 I, 411)
She also gives to humanity the blessing of wisdom. (Iulianus 1962 I, 411) With that, Athene’s role is identical to the function of wisdom in Plato’s Republic and Iamblichus’ letter to Asphalius. However, though wisdom is associated with Athene, it is distinct from Her. The Gods, in their perfection and participation in the Good, have no need of virtue. Rather, it is humanity that benefits from participating in the virtues which emanate from the divine realm.
Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, and Wilmer Cave. Wright. The works of emperor Julian. London: Heinemann etc., 1962.
Kupperman, Jeffrey S. “Living Theurgy: a course in Iamblichus Philosophy, Theology and Theurgy”. London: Avalonia, 2014.