The female goat and the male goat have opposing symbolism. The female goat is usually viewed as nurturing and protective while the male goat is interpreted negatively. In Greek mythology, the she-goat Almathea nursed the infant Zeus. Her skin became the aegis, the projector and preserver, and her horn became the cornucopia that symbolize abundance and plenty (Cooper).
Jobes describes the aegis as "the skin of the goat which acted as Zeus’s foster mother and, by Hephaestus, made into an invulnerable breastplate or shield for Zeus. Zeus lent it to other deities and finally gave it to Athena" (pg 38). Jobes goes on to describe the aegis as "a goat skin covered with dragon scales, bordered by serpents, and had the head of the Medusa attached to it, all symbols of fertility and growth.
The origin or use of goat skin as an item of clothing is discussed by Beidermann, "The divine robes of Pallas Athena include the original Greek ‘aegis’, the skin of the female goat, which according to Herodotus [IV, 189] was a garment worn by Libyan women and (along with the Olive tree, which was sacred to Athena and imported from Libya) suggest the North African origins of the goddess" (pg 152). Cooper states that the aegis represented "protection; preservation; fecundity. The aegis was worn, while the shield was carried" (pg 10). The aegis was worn by Minerva, Italian goddess who is "represented in art as grave and majestic, wearing a long robe, bearing the aegis on her breast, armed with helmet and spear" (Jobes pg 1106).
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