Athena's Owl

Also known as Glaucus

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  • #3862
  • Greek Greek (culture)
  • Flying Flying (attribute)
  • Celestial Celestial (attribute)
  • Friendly Friendly (behaviour)

Athena’s Owl is a celestial owl that was frequently seen on the shoulder of the ancient Greek goddess Athena. The owl was sometimes named Glaucus but at other times it was referred to ‘her [Athena’s] owl’.

It was known to be a manifestation of Athena unlike the eagle of Zeus which was a pet. Therefore images of owls in ancient Greek art represented Athena. In some tales were Athena transforms into an owl. There is no current answer to why an owl depicts Athena. Some historians hypothosize that the glow of the owl’s eyes are the inner light of wisdom. Others state that the Athene noctua- a specific species of owl was prevalent at the time and created its nests in the Acropolis. This hill top of the Acropolis was dedicated to Athena so there is a chance that the people there associated the owl with her.

The Athenian Owl was used on currency that was circulated for more than 300 years throughout ancient Greece.

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