Athena

Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. She was the favorite child of Zeus. She had sprung fully grown out of her father’s head. Her mother was Metis, goddess of wisdom and Zeus’ first wife. In fear that Metis would bear a son mightier than himself. Zeus swallowed her and she began to make a robe and helmet for her daughter. The hammering of the helmet caused Zeus great pain in the form of headaches and he cried out in agony. Skilled Hephaestus ran to his father and split his skull open and from it emerged Athena, fully grown and wearing her mother’s robe and helmet.

She is the virgin mother of Erichthnonius. Athena and her uncle Poseidon were both very fond of a certain city in Greece. Both of them claimed the city and it was decided that the one that could give the finest gift should have it. Leading a procession of citizens, the two gods mounted the Acropolis. Poseidon struck the side of the cliff with his trident and a spring welled up. The people marveled, but the water was as salty as Poseidon’s sea and it was not very useful. Athena’s gift was an olive tree, which was better because it gave the people food, oil and wood. Athena named her city Athens. Athena’s companion was the goddess of victory, Nike, and her usual attribute is the owl. Athena possessed the Aegis.

Freyr

Freyr is the god of sun and rain, and the patron of bountiful harvests. He is both a god of peace and a brave warrior. He is also the ruler of the elves. Freyr is the most prominent and most beautiful of the male members of the Vanir, and is called ‘God of the World’. After the merging of the Aesir and the Vanir, Freyr was called ‘Lord of the Aesir’. Freyr was also called upon to grant a fertile marriage. He is married to the beautiful giantess Gerd, and is the son of Njord. His sister is Freya.

He rides a chariot pulled by the golden boar Gullinbursti which was made for him by the dwarves Brokk and Eitri. He owns the ship Skidbladnir (“wooden-bladed”), which always sails directly towards its target, and which can become so small that it can fit in Freyr’s pocket. He also possesses a sword that would by itself emerge from its sheath and spread a field with carnage whenever the owner desired it. Freyr’s shield bearer and servant is Skirnir, to whom he gave his sword, which Skirnir demanded as a reward for making Gerd his wife. On the day of Ragnarok he will battle without weapons (for he gave his sword away to Skirnir), and will be the first to be killed by the fire giant Surt.

The center of his cult was the city Uppsala in Sweden. In southern Sweden he was called Fricco.

Atlas

Atlas was a second-generation Titan god, from a patrilineal perspective. He was the child of the first-generation Titan Iapetus and Clymene, a daughter of Iapetus’s brother Oceanus (an Oceanid). With his Oceanid aunt Pleione he sired the Pleiades, the Hyades (whose mother is also named as Aethra, another Oceanid), and Calypso. With Hesperis, daughter of the Evening Star Hesper, he produced the Hesperides. Atlas’s brothers were Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius.

The mythographer Hyginus reports that as a consequence of his leadership role in the power struggle between the Olympian gods and the Titans, Zeus punished him by placing the heavens on his shoulders. Atlas was said to live by the garden of the Hesperides, on the westernmost shores of the river Oceanus, in Libya, or in the distant North (or East), where the Hyperboreans resided.

Hercules enlisted Atlas’s assistance when he went to fetch the apples of the Hesperides: Hercules asked Atlas to retrieve the apples in exchange for giving Atlas a break from holding up the heavens by shouldering the burden himself. But Atlas, apples in hand, attempted to protract the reprieve from his onerous task by offering then to deliver the apples to Eurystheus, at whose behest Hercules was performing the task. Hercules tricked him into taking the heavens back by asking him to hold up the burden momentarily while he looked for a pillow to cushion his shoulders. Needless to say, Hercules did not resume the burden. Atlas also played a role in the saga of the hero Perseus. As retribution for not having offered him hospitality, Perseus, holding up Medusa’s severed head, transformed Atlas into the mountains that still bear his name.

Sources: Classical Mythology A to Z