Athene was called Athena by both Greeks and Romans, but we prefer Homer's spelling. She cast her net very wide, reigning as the goddess of wisdom and the arts, and the goddess of war. She sprang not only fully grown, but fully armed from the head of Zeus, who gave his precocious daughter--as a sign of special favor--his famous breastplate adorned with the head of the Gorgon Medusa, as well as his shield and his thunderbolt, forerunner of today's cruise missile. Athene was often sculpted and portrayed in a splendid helmet and armor, carrying a spear (i.e., thunderbolt).
In her less Amazonian moods, Athene supported domestic, homely pursuits such as agriculture and women's crafts (spinning and weaving). Although a virgin, she was widely worshiped as the goddess of fertility--Mount Olympus had its privileges. Athene bequeathed many inventions and skills to the Greek city-states, including the plow, the flute, shipbuilding, shoe making, the taming of animals. Recently evidence has come to light of a hitherto unknown invention bequeathed to the Greeks but then suddenly withdrawn.
To her namesake city-state, Athens, the goddess awarded the olive tree (foundation for its economic security in the Mediterranean over many centuries). In gratitude, the Athenians built the Parthenon ('parthenos' means maiden or virgin) on the Acropolis, and Phidias sculpted a huge statue of her known as the Palladium--after Pallas, a female playmate whom Athene accidentally killed while engaged in combat training. In remorse, the goddess adopted her ill-fated friend's name. Hence, she is sometimes known as Pallas Athene.