Ares – Greek God of War

Ares is a prominent figure in Greek mythology, known as the god of war, violence, and bloodshed. He was one of the twelve Olympian gods and was the son of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the gods.

Who Was Ares?

Ares was known as the god of war and was often depicted as a fierce and violent warrior, covered in blood and carrying weapons. Ares was not only the god of war but also the god of courage, strength, and heroism. He was often associated with acts of bravery and valor in battle.

Ares is often depicted as a handsome and strong warrior, equipped with a spear and a shield, and sometimes wearing a helmet. His chariot, driven by his sons Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror), was a symbol of the terror he brought to the battlefield. His sacred animals included the vulture and the dog, both of which are scavengers of war, symbolizing the aftermath of his violent presence.

Ares – Greek God of War in Greek Mythology

Despite his immense physical power, Ares wasn’t a particularly respected figure among the Olympians. Even his own parents found him distasteful. Zeus viewed him as reckless and disruptive, while Hera loathed him for being a constant reminder of her pain. Even Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, who was occasionally portrayed as his lover or wife, seemed to find him more of a fleeting amusement than a true companion.

Story About Ares

Ares was not a beloved god in Greek mythology. He was often seen as a disruptive and violent presence, causing chaos and destruction wherever he went. Ares was said to have a lust for battle and bloodshed, often interfering in human conflicts to incite war and violence.

His love of violence and bloodshed often led to conflict and destruction, and his reputation as a god of war was both feared and respected in ancient Greece.

One of the most well-known myths involving Ares is his adulterous affair with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Despite being married to Hephaestus, Aphrodite was captivated by Ares’ fierce and passionate nature. Their illicit relationship was exposed when Hephaestus trapped them in a fine net and exposed them to the ridicule of the other gods. This tale highlights the duality of Ares’ character—his ability to inspire both passion and shame.

In the “Iliad,” Homer paints a vivid picture of Ares’ role in the Trojan War. Unlike other gods who chose sides, Ares’ allegiance was more fluid, often influenced by his volatile temper. He initially supported the Trojans but was wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes with the help of Athena, showcasing his vulnerability despite his divine status. This event further emphasized the Greek perception of Ares as a destabilizing force rather than a noble warrior.

Ares – Greek God of War in Greek Mythology 2

Ares’ worship was not as widespread as other gods like Zeus or Athena. His primary centers of worship were in Thrace, a region known for its fierce warriors, and in Sparta, where the ethos of war and combat was highly valued. The Spartans, in particular, revered Ares and offered sacrifices before battle, hoping to gain his favor and ferocity.

Family of Ares

Ares had several siblings in Greek mythology, including Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare, and Apollo, the god of sun, music, poetry, and healing. He was also the brother of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the moon, and Hermes, the god of commerce and thieves. His other siblings were Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalworking, and Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility.

Ares also had several children in Greek mythology. He was the father of Phobos and Deimos, the personifications of fear and terror, as well as the goddess Enyo, the deity of war and destruction. He was also the father of Eros, the god of love, who was born to Ares and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

10 Myths and Facts about Ares

  • Myth: Ares’ Disguise as a Boar: One of the lesser-known myths involves Ares transforming into a boar to take revenge on Adonis, the mortal lover of Aphrodite. Jealous of their relationship, Ares, in the form of a boar, attacked Adonis during a hunt, leading to his death. This myth highlights Ares’ vengeful nature and his capacity for jealousy.
  • Fact: Ares’ Children with Mortal Women: Ares fathered several notable children with mortal women, showcasing his widespread influence. Among his mortal offspring were Cycnus, who attempted to build a temple with human bones, and Diomedes of Thrace, who fed his horses human flesh. These tales underscore Ares’ brutal legacy and the savagery often associated with his progeny.
  • Myth: The Capture by the Aloadae Giants: In a lesser-known myth, Ares was captured by the Aloadae giants, Otus and Ephialtes. The giants imprisoned Ares in a bronze jar for thirteen months, during which time he was powerless and humiliated. This story illustrates Ares’ vulnerability and the challenges even gods can face.
  • Fact: Ares’ Association with the Amazons: Ares was closely associated with the Amazons, the warrior women who were believed to be his daughters through the Amazon queen, Otrera. The Amazons, known for their martial prowess and bravery, were said to have been guided and protected by Ares in battle, reflecting his influence over formidable warrior cultures.
  • Myth: Ares’ Role in the Trial of Orestes: Ares played a role in the myth of Orestes, who was tried for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra. According to some versions, Ares acted as a supporter of Orestes during his trial by the Areopagus, the high court of Athens. This myth connects Ares with themes of justice and retribution.
  • Fact: Ares’ Worship in Northern Greece: While Ares was not widely worshipped across Greece, he had a significant cult following in Northern Greece, particularly in Thrace. The Thracians, known for their warrior culture, held Ares in high regard, offering him sacrifices and seeking his favor in their martial endeavors. This regional devotion highlights the varied perceptions of Ares across Greek territories.
  • Myth: Ares and the Sacking of Troy: Ares’ involvement in the Trojan War extends beyond the battlefield. In one myth, Ares, angered by the fall of Troy, attempted to take revenge by attacking the Greek fleet. However, he was thwarted by Athena, who remained steadfast in her support of the Greeks. This myth underscores the enduring conflict between Ares and Athena.
  • Fact: The Temple of Ares in Athens: Despite his tumultuous reputation, Ares had a temple in Athens, located in the Agora. This temple was a symbol of the city’s acknowledgment of the god of war’s power and a place where citizens could offer sacrifices to avert his wrath. The existence of this temple signifies Ares’ recognized, if reluctant, place in Athenian society.
  • Myth: Ares’ Protection of the City of Thebes: In a myth involving the founding of Thebes, Ares plays a protective role. Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, killed a dragon that was sacred to Ares. As retribution, Ares demanded Cadmus serve him for eight years. However, Ares later reconciled with Cadmus and even gave him his daughter, Harmonia, in marriage, blending themes of vengeance and reconciliation.
  • Fact: Ares’ Symbolism in Greek Art: Ares is frequently depicted in Greek art as a mature, bearded warrior, often in the company of his sons, Phobos and Deimos. These artistic representations emphasize his martial attributes and his role as a father of fear and terror. The consistent portrayal of Ares in art reveals the cultural significance and enduring image of the god of war.

The Symbols of Ares

The Spear and Shield
One of the most common symbols associated with Ares is the spear and shield. These weapons were often depicted in artwork and literature related to Ares, emphasizing his role as the god of war and his association with weapons and combat.

The Boar
Another symbol associated with Ares is the boar. In some myths, Ares was said to have transformed into a boar during battle, becoming an unstoppable force of destruction. The boar was also a symbol of courage and ferocity in ancient Greek culture, further emphasizing Ares’ association with these qualities.

The Vulture
The vulture was another symbol associated with Ares. In some myths, Ares was said to have sent vultures to feast on the corpses of his fallen enemies, emphasizing his brutal and savage nature.

The Dog
The dog was also a symbol associated with Ares. In ancient Greek culture, dogs were often associated with hunting and warfare, making them a fitting symbol for the god of war.

The Colours Red and Gold
In artwork and literature related to Ares, the colors red and gold were often used to represent the god of war. These colors were associated with bloodshed and wealth, respectively, emphasizing Ares’ role as a powerful and fearsome deity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Ares Look Like?

Ares, the Greek god of war, is typically depicted as a powerful and imposing figure in Greek mythology and art. His appearance embodies the attributes associated with war and combat. Here are some key features often associated with Ares:

  • Physical Appearance: Ares is usually portrayed as a strong, muscular, and athletic man, embodying the ideal warrior physique. His build reflects his role as a god of war, exuding strength and power.
  • Facial Features: He is often depicted with a stern and determined expression, emphasizing his fierce and aggressive nature. In some representations, Ares has a full beard, adding to his mature and formidable presence.
  • Armor and Weapons: Ares is commonly shown wearing traditional Greek armor, including a helmet, breastplate, and greaves. He is frequently seen holding a spear or a sword, and carrying a shield, symbolizing his readiness for battle. His helmet is often depicted with a crest, signifying his high status among warriors.
  • Iconography: In artistic depictions, Ares is sometimes accompanied by symbols of war and conflict. These can include the vulture, a bird associated with death on the battlefield, and the dog, an animal often linked to aggression and loyalty in warfare.
  • Chariot: Ares is occasionally shown riding a chariot, pulled by his sons Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror). This imagery underscores his association with the chaos and terror of war.
  • Clothing: In some portrayals, Ares is dressed in a short tunic or a warrior’s cloak, emphasizing his martial role. His attire is practical for battle, highlighting his primary function as a god of war.

Why Did Ares Fight Hercules?

The confrontation between Ares and Hercules occurred during one of Hercules’ Twelve Labors, specifically the task of capturing the cattle of Geryon. During this labor, Hercules had to travel to the island of Erytheia to seize the cattle. In the process, he encountered numerous challenges and adversaries, one of whom was Ares’ son, Kyknos.

Kyknos, a fierce and violent warrior like his father, attempted to prevent Hercules from completing his task. In the ensuing battle, Hercules killed Kyknos, which incited the wrath of Ares. Enraged by the death of his son, Ares confronted Hercules to avenge Kyknos.

What Are Ares’ Powers?

As the Greek god of war, Ares possessed a formidable arsenal of powers:

  • Immense Strength and Stamina: Ares was a superhuman warrior, capable of incredible feats of physical prowess. He could overpower mortals and even some lesser gods with his raw strength. His endurance allowed him to fight tirelessly in prolonged battles.
  • Martial Prowess: Ares was a master of combat, skilled in wielding various weapons and tactics. He embodied the raw fury and ferocity of war, often leading charges and reveling in the chaos of battle.
  • Invulnerability (to an extent): Like most Olympians, Ares was incredibly tough and resistant to injury. However, unlike some gods, he wasn’t completely invulnerable. Myths depict him being wounded by mortals on multiple occasions, suggesting his resilience had limits.
  • Aura of Fear and Frenzy: Ares’ presence on the battlefield could inspire fear and bloodlust in both his allies and enemies. This ability to manipulate emotions could turn the tide of a battle.
  • Association with War Beasts: Ares was often accompanied by ferocious creatures like hounds and vultures, symbolizing the destructive nature of war and his dominion over these aspects.

What Is Ares Passionate About?

Ares’ passion wasn’t for a noble cause or a strategic victory. Unlike Athena, who championed warfare with a sense of justice and strategy, Ares reveled in the very essence of war:

  • The Thrill of Battle: Ares wasn’t interested in the intricacies of tactics or the justifications for war. He craved the raw excitement and chaos of the battlefield. The clash of steel, the roar of the crowd, and the thrill of victory (or perhaps even the challenge of defeat) fueled his passion.
  • The Carnage and Destruction: While disturbing to most, the brutality of war held a perverse appeal for Ares. The screams of the dying, the clash of weapons, and the physical destruction all served as testaments to his power and the devastating impact of war.
  • The Assertion of Dominance: Ares wasn’t just a participant in war; he saw himself as a dominant force on the battlefield. He craved the opportunity to display his immense strength and fighting prowess, proving his superiority over others.
Ares’s legacy extends far beyond Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart, Mars, became a more prominent figure, eventually evolving into a god associated not just with war but also with masculinity and civic virtue. The word “arena,” a place of combat, also finds its root in the name Ares. Today, Ares serves as a reminder of the destructive potential of war, a force that can be both necessary and horrifying.

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