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MINERVA MINERVA the goddess of wisdom was the daughter of Jupiter She was said to have leaped forth from his brain mature and in complete armour She presided over the useful and ornamental arts both those of men - such as agriculture and navigation - and those of women - spinning weaving and needlework She was also a warlike divinity but it was defensive war only that she patronized and she had no sympathy with Marss savage love of violence and bloodshed Athens was her chosen seat her own city awarded to her as the prize of a contest with Neptune who also aspired to it The tale ran that in the reign of the first king of Athens the two deities contended for the possession of the city The gods decreed that it should be awarded to that one who produced the gift most useful to mortals Neptune gave the horse Minerva produced the olive The gods gave judgment that the olive was the more useful of the two and awarded the city to the goddess and it was named after her Athens her name in Greek being Athena There was another contest in which a mortal dared to come in competition with Minerva That mortal was Arachne a maiden who had attained such skill in the arts of weaving and embroidery that the nymphs themselves would leave their groves and fountains to come and gaze upon her work It was not only beautiful when it was done but beautiful also in the doing To watch her as she took the wool in its rude state and formed it into rolls or separated it with her fingers and carded it till it looked as light and soft as a cloud or twirled the spindle with skilful touch or wove the web or after it was woven adorned it with her needle one would have said that Minerva herself had taught her But this
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