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Wise Little Owl - History and Meaning


Goddess Athena's Wise Little Owl



Throughout history and across many cultures, owls have been associated with wisdom. This is the case of the Ancient Greek Owl as well.


The owl, and specifically a "little owl" had been Goddess Athena's symbol. One of Athena's epithets is "Glaukopis" meaning bright-eyed. Etymologically, this word derives from "glaukos", meaning "gleaming" and "ops", meaning eye. It's worthy to note that the word "glaux" (owl) is from the same root, apparently because of the bird's unique eyes.


So, the bird that sees in the dark is closely associated with Athena, the goddess of wisdom.


Athena has been depicted with her sacred bird in the Athenian tetradrachms, minted in various versions for about 400 years. The owl was protected and inhabited the Acropolis in great numbers and was believed to bring victory to battles. The little owl also kept an eye on Athenian trade from the reverse side of the tetradrachm.



ancient Greek tetradrachm

 Photo of Ancient Athenian tetradrachm, depicting Athena on the obverse side and the  Little Owl on the reverse side.



Owl till now is considered to be a symbol of wisdom, being an unofficial symbol of Mensa Club.




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