Athena is portrayed as the virginal warrior goddess throughout Greek literature and mythology; she has several later interpretations, in other religions and traditional beliefs as well. Athena later became Minerva, of the Romans, and then Sulis, to the Celts. Throughout history the same fierce, cunning, and wise virginal maiden has been a primary figure in many religions. Athena is just one of the many names the protective and benevolent goddess has had throughout the ages. She did have her faults however; as gods and goddesses go, naturaly being immortal, they were also arrogant and proud. Athena was not as often subject to the temptation of deceitfulness that her family was, however, she did her share of wrongs.
One example, is the story of Medusa. In the most notable version, Medusa was one of Athena’s priestesses. Poseidon, in order to anger Athena, out of his disgrace for having been previously defeated by her, raped Medusa in Athena’s temple. When Athena discovered the desecration of her temple, she turned Medusa into a Gorgon, and banished her. But that still wasn’t quite enough, –later, Athena would help the hero Perseus destroy Medusa, and cut off her head, by giving him weapons against her, and instructing him specifically on how to kill her. In other versions, Medusa had two other sisters, that were Gorgons as well.
Another example of Athena’s penchant for deceit, or “not quite benevolent” cunning character, was the way in which she approached Odysseus before she gave him aid upon his return home. According to literature, Athena was merely “feeling him out”, however, upon their first introduction, the goddess appeared to Odysseus as an old woman, who then told him that his kingdom was forfeit, after his wife had re-married, –i.e., lied to him. However, Odysseus lied back, and Athena, who was impressed with his cleverness, then offered her aid in chasing away his wife’s suitors, and claiming his home as his own once more.