Deity of the Day
Greek God of War
Ares (Roman equivalent is Mars) was the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship. Since ancient times the people, in order to solve their differences resorted to the most painful act for humans, war.
The ancient Greek mythology is dominated by two major combat operations: the ten-year Trojan War and the Argonaut’s campaign. So the Greeks coined a god, Ares, who personified this terrible scourge. He was always thirsty for blood and his main feature was the irrational rage and the lack of any courtesy.
Ares belongs to the second generation of Olympians. He was lawful son of Zeus and Hera. His love to cause wars and quarrels made him obnoxious not only to other gods but also to his father Zeus, who never missed an opportunity to attack him and call him a “stubborn head”.
The biggest controversy was between Ares with Athena, who was also a war goddess. But Athena was, in parallel, the goddess of wisdom, so she was combining power with intelligence. That’s why most of the times she prevailed against bellicose Ares and was bringing him to shame. The most significant conflicts between them were made during the Trojan War.
As we are informed by Homer, the brawler God had promised to his mother Hera and Athena to help the Greeks. But, seduced by the beauty of Aphrodite, he passed at a critical moment in the opposing faction. For some time, he stood by at the main hero of the Trojans, Hector, who decimated the Achaean warriors, since Achilles was missing from the battlefield. Hera was indignant with her son who, since childhood, only caused problems, ran to Zeus and asked permission to evict Ares from the battle, injuring him. He accepted, since he was not at all fond of his son. Immediately Hera sent Athena to arrange the matter as she knew.
The wise goddess wore the Kynee, the cap of her uncle Hades, which made her invisible, and jumped at once from Olympus in the Trojan plain. Then she stood on the chariot of Diomedes that started battle with Ares, without knowing of course that he was against an Olympian god. Ares first threw his bronze spear against mortal warrior, but the unseen Athena repelled it with both her hands and it fell on the ground.
Then Diomedes threw his spear and Athena directed it in the side of Ares. He fell wounded on the ground and screamed with a terrible voice that panicked Greeks and Trojans, for he was like ten thousand warriors shouting together. Then he flew to Mount Olympus shrouded in thick clouds and immediately went to the palace of Zeus.
He showed him his wound and while weeping, he started complaining:
“Father Zeus, you see the injustices take place, but you are not mad. All gods always do your will and obey your orders. But you can not see Athena who always makes her own. You never argue with her since you gave birth to her by yourself. And now, she puts a mortal to hit me with his spear and ridicule me!”
The father of gods and men, furious with his son, responded with insulting words.
“Are you not ashamed to come before me whining? Know that I hate you, because you always like wars, fights and quarrels. You are a stubborn head exactly like your mother Hera. Know that if your father was any other, he would have thrown you in Tartarus, even more below than the Titans.”
Although Zeus used insulting words, Ares was his son was and he could not bear to see him hurt and crying. So Zeus instructed Paionian, doctor of the gods to heal his wound. But in the final battle of the Trojan War all the gods, with the permission of Zeus, ran fully armored in the battlefield. In the Greek camp joined Hera, Athena, Poseidon and the divine blacksmith Hephaestus. Beside the Trojans arrived dreadful Ares, master archer Artemis, long-haired Phoebus, Leto, the smiling Aphrodite and the river Xanthus.
Ares, who was embittered with Athena, because she always embarrassed him in front of the Olympians, charged with the first opportunity towards her and started talking with bad words:
“Shameless bitch, with your ego and insolence you have caused a lot of trouble to the gods!”
Then he threw his spear at aegis of Athena that even the thunder of Zeus could not pierce. The goddess shook and took two or three steps backwards. Without losing her courage, grabbed a huge rock that people had set up for border and hurled it the bellicose god. The rock struck Ares on the neck, forcing him to bend on his knees and fall down. His huge body spread seven square kilometers as he fell on the ground. His knees bled and his hair was filled with soils. All the gods started to laugh when they saw the god of war lying on the ground, who once again was ridiculed by Athena. Only Aphrodite ran to him, helped him get up and grabbing him by the hand raised him to Olympus.
Ares also had several differences with the famous hero Heracles (Hercules), who was enjoying the protection of Athena. Once, the Swan, son of warlike god and Pelopeias, wanted to build a temple from the skulls of men, in honor of his father. Therefore he was killing every passerby. So he tried to do the same thing with Heracles. Ares rushed alongside his son and forced the hero to withdraw. But then Heracles returned and killed the Swan.
For this event there are several variations. So, one myth tells that Swan agreed with Ares to kill Heracles. During the conflict the hero killed the Swan and the wounded immortal god in the thigh. Another poet tells that the Swan was the son of Ares and Pyrinis and challenged Heracles to a duel. The god wanted to help his son and tried to burn the opponent. But Zeus, who was the father of the hero, threw a thunder between them and separated them. Another son of Ares that had differences with Heracles was Diomedes of Thrace