Ares: God of War and Chaos in Greek Mythology

 

Ares, the god of war, was a son of Zeus and Hera, and lover of Aphrodite. In Homeric epics he was the spirit of carnage. In the Trojan War he helped the Trojans but did not refuse to aide the Greeks, since his sole interest was to fight. Accompanying Ares on the battlefield were the secondary spirits, Deimus and Phobus (Terror and Fear), who were his sons, and Enyo with the bloodstained face.

The general consensus was that Ares preferred Thrace as his country of residence for it was well known for horse breeding and being transversed by warring people. Some traditions credit Ares as fathering the Amazons, with Harmonia as their mother. A legend of him was found at Thebes too; it was claimed Ares possessed a stream on the Cadmea, the citadel of the town, and this stream was guarded by a dragon whom he had fathered. When Cadmus came to found the town, the dragon denied him access to the stream, but Cadmus killed it and, to expiate this murder, he had to serve as Ares’ slave for eight months. After this period expired the god married Cadmus to Harmonia, his daughter of Aphrodite.

Ares’ Roman counterpart was Mars. A.G.H.

 

Overview of Ares

  • Parentage: Ares is the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Hera, the queen of the gods.
  • Lover of Aphrodite: Ares had a notable romantic liaison with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, adding a complex dimension to his character as a war deity.
  • Embodiment of War: In Homeric epics, Ares represented the brutal and chaotic aspects of warfare, often depicted as the spirit of carnage and bloodshed.

 

Role in the Trojan War

  • Support for Both Sides: During the Trojan War, Ares did not align exclusively with either the Trojans or the Greeks. His primary motivation was the pursuit of battle and conflict, irrespective of the side.
  • Companions in Battle: Accompanying him were the secondary spirits Deimus and Phobus (Terror and Fear), who were his sons, and Enyo, the goddess of war, known for her bloodstained visage.

 

Ares’ Preferred Residence and Offspring

  • Favor for Thrace: Ares was believed to prefer Thrace as his residence, a region famed for its horse breeding and constant warfare.
  • Father of the Amazons: Some traditions hold Ares as the father of the Amazons, a tribe of warrior women, with Harmonia (a daughter of Aphrodite) as their mother.

 

The Legend of Ares in Thebes

  • Ares and the Dragon: A significant legend of Ares is found in Thebes. He was said to possess a stream guarded by a dragon, which he fathered.
  • Cadmus and the Dragon: When Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, arrived, he was denied access to the stream by the dragon. Cadmus killed the dragon, but to atone for this act, he became a slave to Ares for eight months.
  • Marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia: After serving Ares, Cadmus was given Harmonia, the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, in marriage.

 

Roman Counterpart

  • Mars: In Roman mythology, Ares was identified with Mars, who, unlike Ares, was also associated with agriculture and fatherhood, and held a more prominent and revered position in Roman culture.

 

 

Source:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, pp. 133-134