The Greek virgin goddess Athena, later called Minerva by the Romans, was the goddess of wisdom, war, purity, practical reason, crafts and was the protector of cities. Other names Minerva was known by were; Pallas Athene, Kore and Parthenos, all of these titles allude to her maidenhood. Minerva is known as the protectress of the city of Athens. She was awarded protectress after she won a competition against Poseidon, the god of the earth and the sea. He offered the citizens of Athens the horse and Minerva gave to them the olive tree, which they thought was the better gift.
Minerva/ Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis. An Oracle foretold to Zeus that the child Metis would bare after Minerva would become lord of the heavens. Zeus did not want anyone to be stronger than him, so he swallowed Metis while she was still pregnant. This caused Zeus to have a terrible headache so he asked his son, Hephaestus, who was a blacksmith to open his head. When Hephaestus struck Zeus' head with an axe, Minerva stepped out an adult and in full armor. Minerva was Zeus' favorite child. He gave her the keys to his thunderbolts, and she alone was able to wear his aegis, a goatskin breastplate.
In art Minerva is often sculpted or put on vase paintings. A lot of the time she is shown in full armor, carrying a spear, and wearing an aegis that is fringed with snakes that produce thunderbolts when it is shaken. She is also identified as Athena Nike and then she is depicted with wings and is the goddess of victorious battle.