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From what I recall from Saint Seiya, Athena is basically a helpless girl kind of feeling the place of damsel in distress which drives the story forward, with the knights protecting or rescuing her.

However she’s also described as a god. I don’t recall any godlike powers or actions coming from her but I saw the anime on the 90s so my memory may be off.

What are her powers? Is she a real god or is she something else?

I seem to recall in some part of the anime (movie or something) they fight Poseidon and he is actually a real adversary, a real god with powers or something.

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Athena is a real god in the series, Poseidon is her uncle.

However in Saint Seiya, she is actualy reborn as a mortal every 200 years or so. Her incarnation in the 20th century was taken from the Santuary by Kido Mitsumasa and adopted under the name Kido Saori. The other gods in Saint Seiya aren't reborn, they just posess mortals instead and can use their powers imediately. She is not initially aware of her identity/powers as Athena, but as the series goes on she shows all sorts of abilities, like telporting, healing, bestowing long life, sealing away other gods and fighting using her god cloth, staff and shield.

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