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Am I only one who find it suspicious that Athena tells Kratos how he rite himself from his nightmares, by forgiving him... at the end of God of War III! This is my vision why she did this...
When Kratos became the champion of the gods, she planned to rite him from his nightmares after he removed the threat that Ares poses. She really wanted to tell him that to be free, he had to forgive himself for what he had become. But from the moment, Pandora's Box was opened and she was infected by greed, she came up with a plan. At the beginning of God of War, Kratos was already at the brink of insanity, so he would become even more ruthless as his nightmare continues. She tricked him in believing that the Gods couldn't help him but without telling him what must be done. Instead she made him the new God of War knowing that Zeus feared to be overthrown.
During his time as God of War, Kratos traveled to Atlantis to find his mother and later Death's domain to find Deimos. Athena tried to stop him but not really. The only thing she did, was advising him to let it rest. But of all people (and Gods) she knew he wouldn't listen, after all he served her most in his 10 years of servitude. And her plan succeeded, he killed someone, even Zeus was afraid of, Thanatos. At the beginning of God of War II, she "tries" to convince him to stop his crusade against the cities of Greece but as revealed by Zeus, she refused to undo her mistake. So in other words, she simply trying to win his trust for later. As she discovered that Gaia was helping Kratos, she tells him the Titans can't be trust. The reason for this was quite simple: she didn't wanted the Titans to rule again as she wanted to be the monotheistic ruler of Earth. Later she stopped Kratos from killing Zeus and even throw her for his blade to prevent him from dying. But in her dying words she tells Kratos that all of Olympus would protect Zeus from his wrath. This means that she saved Zeus to make sure Kratos also liquidates the other prominent gods who could take Zeus' place or allowing Kratos to become their new leader. This scene proves that she wanted to be the ruler long before her death in God of War II and that she knew she would return as an astral from since her sacrifice.
During these events she had two faces. It's even possible that she hide her true intentions from even herself. That those thoughs and plans were nothing, that was doing what was right to help her brother.
So that's my theory, tell me what you think...