In this passage from the Orphic Hymn to Athena, note the attributes of Athena - athletic, destroyer of the [Gorgon] Medusa, virgin, artist par excellence, warrior, progressive, and androgynous. Few of these attributes are traditionally feminine:
"Athletic Maiden with a heart sublime,(www.globaltown.com/shawn/athena.html)
Slayer of the Gorgon, fugitive of the bridal bed,
Mother of Art in all your abundance, catalyst of progress!
You bring folly to the corrupt and a sense of purpose to the pure!
Indeed, you are male and female in one,
Patron of war and wisdom,
You are fluid of form, a dragon,
Infused with inspiration of the Gods!"
Elsewhere, I have pointed out how the androgynous warlike Athena was a friend to Greek heroes, but she wasn't so helpful to women. Deborah Lyons, in Chapter 3 of Gender and Immortality, details Athena's bias against her own sex, but even without reading Lyons' interesting essay, in the passage above, you can see Athena destroying the feminine Medusa and eschewing her own sexuality. In what follows, we will look at some of the ways Athena hurt or destroyed mythological women.
Next Page: Arachne - The First Spider
Arachne was one of Three Women Athena Destroyed