Ares

Olympian God of War

Ares was the Olympian god of war.

Role

Ares was the god of war and, unlike his sister Athena, represented the more violent aspect of war.

Physical Features, Symbols and Character

Ares is depicted as a young man wearing a helmet, and carrying a shield and spear.

He drives a chariot with four horses and is accompanied by his two sons, Deimos (Terrror) and Phobos (Fear). Although he has a palace in Olympus, he lives in Thrace, whence he is believed to have stemmed.

His sacred animal is the dog and he is also associated with the vulture, both of which are scavengers of war.

Ares is often portrayed as a bloodthirsty god, ruthless and in fury, seeking war for its own sake. Other times he displays a wiser nature, where he sees war as a means to defend a city or bring justice.

Mythology

Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera. Although he was the god of war, he was not immune to injuries and was wounded in numerous instances.

During the Trojan war he was wounded twice, both caused by Athena.


ARES at a Glance
Roman nameMars
GenderMale
TypeDeity
Rules over - In charge ofWar
SymbolsHelmet, Shield, Spear or Sword, Dog, Vulture, Chariot, Boar, Flaming torch
Sacred AnimalsDog
ParentsZeus and Hera
Most Important ChildrenErotes (Eros and Anteros), Phobos, Deimos, Phlegyas, Harmonia, and Adrestia

The first instance was after Ares joined the side of the Trojans even though he had assured Athena he would not do so. Athena guided Diomedes to attack him and struck his in the abdomen; when Ares suffered the blow, he gave out an intense cry and left for Olympus to heal his wound. There, Zeus berated him for his love of violence and stated he was his least favourite of all gods.

The second instance was when Ares attacked Athena by throwing his spear at her. The spear hit her aegis, thereupon Athena picked up a big rock and threw it at him, hitting him in the neck and knocking him out. Ares, screeching in pain, had to leave the battlefield led by Aphrodite, while Athena burst in laughter and boasted of her superiority in battle.

Ares was also wounded by Heracles, after Heracles fought with and killed Ares’s bloodthirsty son Cycnus. Ares attacked Heracles, but Athena blocked his hit and Heracles injured him, forcing his sons Deimos and Phobos to come to his rescue, leading him to Olympus to heal his wound.

Otus and Ephialtes, twin giants, imprisoned Ares for a lunar year by binding him with chains of brass; he was eventually rescued by Hermes.

Ares also became trapped by the Aloadae, twin giants Otus and Ephialtes, who imprisoned him for 13 months in a brazen pot bound in chains, until finally their stepmother told Hermes of his whereabouts and Hermes rescued his brother.

Ares and Aphrodite

Ares’s most famous love affair was with Aphrodite. Their offspring were said to be Eros, Anteros, Deimos, Phobos, Adrestia and Harmonia (Harmony). According to Ovid, Helios(the Sun) found out about their affair and told Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s husband. Hephaestus created a bronze net which he threw over the lovers, who were captured and displayed for all the gods to see and ridicule.

The Areopagus

After Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius raped Are’s daughter Alcippe, Ares found him and killed him, for which Poseidon demanded he be put on trial. His trial is said to have taken place in Athens, on a hill to the west of the Acropolis. The gods acquitted Ares and the hill was named Areopagus (Ares’s Rock), becoming the place where trials for murder would take place. It was there that Orestes was later judged for the murder of his mother.

Etymology

The name Ares is connected with the Greek word ἀρή (arē), meaning bane, ruin, or curse.

Classical Sources

Homer’s Iliad, the Homeric Hymn to Ares, Apollodorus’s Library, Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Pausanias’s Description of Greece.