MinervaMinerva (Pallas Athena in Greek) was one of the most important of the ancient Greek and Roman goddesses. She was originally a goddess of war, hence her armour and spear. She fought on behalf of just causes and is therefore seen as a civilising influence, in contrast to Mars. By being associated with wisdom she became the patron of a number of institutions of learning and the arts. She was also patroness of many household crafts, such as spinning. The city of Athens was under her special protection.
As an exemplar of wisdom her attributes are books and an owl. Other diverse attributes are also associated with her such as the head of the Medusa which was given to her by Perseus after she had helped him kill the monster. She was one of the three goddesses involved in the Judgement of Paris.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN