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Ares

by Micha F. Lindemans
Ares

The Greek god of war and battle and the instigator of violence, a son of Zeus and Hera. Because of his cruel and war-like nature he was despised by all the gods, even his own father disliked him. Ares could be bloody, merciless, fearful and cowardly and possessed no moral attributes. He was, however, unable to withstand the loveliness of Aphrodite, who subsequently became his consort.

Ares was of giant stature and had a loud voice, and surpassed the other gods in speed. He usually fought on foot, but could sometimes be found riding a chariot. On the battlefield Ares was accompanied by Phobos ("Fear") and Deimos ("Terror"), two lesser divinities who are sometimes given as his sons. He was furthermore attended by the goddesses Eris ("Strife") and Enyo ("Horror"). Ares is also the father of Harmonia, the goddess of harmony, and of the Amazonian queens Penthesileia and Hippolyte.

During the Trojan War, Ares favored the Trojans although he had little regard for the justice of the cause of the conflict he was backing. Ares often helped non-Greek peoples, such as the Trojans and the Amazons.

Ares' cult was never fully popular in Hellas and there were only a few temples dedicated to him. His cult was probably introduced from Thrace, the region where he was held in high regard and which was traditionally the land of the Amazons. Ares was the object of a special cult in Thebes where he had a spring and which was guarded by his son, the Aeionian Dracon. It was killed by Cadmus who then had to serve the war-god for eight years, after which the gods allowed him to marry Ares' daughter Harmonia.

Etymologically his name may mean "destroyer" or "avenger."

The Romans equated them with Mars and their war-god was of much more significance than Ares.

Iconography:
On early Greek vases he is depicted as a bearded and elder warrior wearing a helmet and carrying a spear, usually in the company of other deities, such as on an amphora from Attica (ca. 540 BCE; Vatican Museum) and on the François Vase (ca. 570 BCE at Florance). Later artists portrayed Ares as a much younger and less war-like god. An example is the Ares Ludovisi (fourth century BCE) by Lysippus or Leochares where Ares is shown sitting on a rock, hands folded around a raised knee. Another famous statue is the Ares Borghese in the Louvre.


Article details:

  • Pronunciation:
    air'-eez
  • Associated with:
    war
  • Attribute(s):
    armor, helmet, spear, shield
  • Symbol(s):
    spear, helmet
  • Creature(s):
    dog, vulture, serpent
  • Patron of:
    warriors
  • Gender:
    Male

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