Pallas Athena and the God of War

Tuesday April 19th 2011

Imagine you are trotting down the Appian Way in Rome sometime around 202 BC. It’s a hot spring day and you’re working up quite a sweat. Your toga is flapping behind you and your slave, a rather dashing Gaul (with rippling muscles and bedroom eyes – hang on a minute…back to the story), is having trouble keeping up with you.

You are in urgent need of some advice from an astrologer. You’ve managed to become embroiled yet again in a row. It’s because of your hot temper and your unquenchable libido. You have the Sun and Moon in Aries.

Your Roman astrologer, a man probably, takes one look at your chart which he keeps on file (in a handy scroll) and tells you to nip over and make an offering at the temple of Minerva.

According to the Latin poem, Astronomica, which your astrologer would have used to memorise important aspects of astrology, not only does each sign have a ruling planet, it has a tutelary deity or a wise counsellor from among the the 12 gods of Olympus. This does one very important thing as far as I’m concerned: restore the gender balance.

Traditional “Planets”
Moon, Venus (female)
Sun, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (male)
Minerva (Pallas), Diana, Venus, Vesta, Juno, Ceres 
Jupiter, Apollo (Sun), Neptune, Mercury, Vulcan, Mars


Athena tells of Ares (Mars) by David.
Athena supported the Greeks in the Trojan War;
Ares the Trojans. Guess who won.

According to Astronomica, this month’s sign Aries (just ending), with the ruling planet Mars has Minerva, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom as  counsellor. Why?

Mars is the planet of war and as such is impulsive, aggressive, instinctive, violent, rough and ready, driven, passionate, reckless, brave. He is brilliantly drawn (as the Greek god Ares) in the children’s books featuring Percy Jackson. In those, his first appearance is as a leather-clad biker wielding various bits of hardware.

So if Aries is ruled by excitable Mars, this sign must need a calming influence, right. Someone sensible, logical, level-headed. So who better than Pallas Athena, goddess of strategic warfare, grand plans, weaving, pattern-recognition (see this post), and all-round intellectual giant, to guide the god of war.

Where Mars is hot – Pallas is cool.

Aries – Pallas (Minerva)
Taurus – Venus
Gemini – Apollo (Phoebus), the Sun
Cancer – Mercury
Leo – Jupiter
Virgo – Ceres
Libra – Vulcan
Scorpio – Mars
Sagittarius – Diana
Capricorn – Vesta
Aquarius – Juno
Pisces – Neptune

Some of the other tutelary deities are also clearly there to balance the tendencies of particular signs. Here are some examples.

Vesta, the domestic goddess, counsels Capricorn, the sign that rules career and status. Capricorn is the most public sign and Vesta rules the private sphere.

Juno, goddess of marriage, counsels Aquarius the sign of the singleton.

Vulcan, the cuckolded husband of Venus, advises the sign Libra, which rules marriage.

Emotional Cancer is counselled by cool Mercury.

OK – so I made up that story, and I don’t know that the advice would really have been to make a burnt offering, but here’s a thought.  For people with a lot of Aries in the natal chart, it might be as well before you next do anything impulsive, to stop if you can for a millisecond (I know it’s hard), and ask yourself what Pallas Athena would advise you to do.


Here are some posts I’ve written on other tutelary deities: Diana, Juno, Vesta. And in general about the idea.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What fun. Thanks.

  2. Gee, I never have trouble with impulsivity. 😀

    I had not understood the relationship between the planets and tutelary deities before. This is intriguing & helpful. Thanks!

  3. Mary says:

    I live in hot, dry Las Cruces, New Mexico where there is an Army base and an Air Force base, and where the big cash crop is green chile peppers…and my husband works for the university here, which has programs to help all those Mars-ruled industries.