Minerva is the ancient Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicrafts.
Unlike the god of warfare, Mars, she had nothing to do with bloodlust and brute animal strength. When Minerva showed up on the battlefield, victory came through courage, sound strategy, and military skill. After the fighting was over, she led through victory to peace and prosperity. Not surprisingly, the WAC chose her--in her Greek form as Pallas Athene--to be their insignia, and I chose her to be in the title of my novel Women's Company - The Minerva Girls.
What's So Important About Insignia?
The armed forces take insignia quite seriously. The creation of insignia for the WAC initially stumped designers. Why? Because insignia usually depict the function of the corps concerned and, when The Women's Army (and at that time Auxiliary) Corps was created in 1942, no one knew exactly what work the women would do.
According to historian Mattie Treadwell, an early draft for the insignia tried to resemble a busy-bee-like insect. In the eyes of the WAAC director, however, it looked like a bug, and she "had no desire to be called the Queen Bee." When designers came up with Pallas Athene--a goddess associated with "a variety of womanly virtues and no vices either womanly or godlike"--she won hands down.
What Does the Insignia Look Like?
A profile of the head of the Greek goddess, Pallas Athene, was selected for the WAC's lapel insignia, together with the traditional U.S. cut out for officers, and on discs for enlisted women.
Lynne Schall is the author of three novels: Women's Company - The Minerva Girls (2016), Cloud County Persuasion (2018), and Cloud County Harvest (fall 2022). She and her family live in Kansas, USA.