Ares

An Introduction to Ares

Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. He is one of the Greek pantheon’s two primary war gods; the other is Athena, who is, perhaps, more a god of generals while Ares is god of the average soldier. Ares is the god of the battlefield, of the chaos of war, who can be the salvation of those who are caught up in that chaos.

He is also well known as the lover of Aphrodite, and the two share three children: Phobos, Deimos, and Harmonia.

Myths and Stories

If you are looking for information on the regard in which Ares was held in ancient Greece, the myths may not be your best resource

Despite being a war god, Ares’ stories of battle are often less than complimentary. When he and Athena are at odds (as in the Iliad), she always gets the better of him. Since many of the surviving myths are of Athenian origin, this is not surprising, and it is not unlikely that Ares had some different stories in different regions.

Ares’ best-known myth is probably one he shares with Aphrodite, wherein the two are entrapt in her bed by a net devised by her husband Hephaistos, and shamed before the assembled gods.

Names and Epithets

Like many of the gods, Ares was addressed under different names or epithets at different times and under different circumstances.

Ares Enyalios (Warlike Ares). A particularly on-the-nose epithet for Ares.

Ares Aphneios (Ares, Provider of Plenty). This name refers to an Arcadian tale in which Ares fathers a son by a woman who dies in childbirth, and saves the baby by causing the deceased woman to give milk (a bit gruesome for modern tastes, but certainly an indication of the great love Ares had for his children).

Festivals

Ares was not commonly worshipped, outside of a military context, in Athens (where he did have a temple) or in most of the other regions we know the most about. More northern regions were said to hold him in high esteem, but again there is not a lot of information on the specifics of their practice. He was, of course, well regarded in Sparta.

Symbols

Some of Ares’ attributes are the weapons of war, particularly the spear. The vulture was sacred to him.

Categories: Ares, Greek Gods, Greek Gods 101

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