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Ares
Ares Ludovisi Altemps
"Ludovisi Ares"
General information
Part ofGreek mythology
GenderMale
AbodeMount Olympus
Major cult centresThrace, Sparta
WeaponsSpear
SymbolsBoar, spear, armor, dog, chariot, vulture, serpent, barn owl, woodpecker, eagle, torch
DayTuesday
Family
ParentsZeus and Hera
SiblingsEris, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hebe, Hermes, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, Perseus, Minos, the Muses, the Graces, Enyo, and Eileithyia
ConsortAphrodite
ChildrenPhobos, Deimos, Harmonia, Diomedes, Phlegyas, Erotes, Penthesilea, Hippolyta, Meleager,
Linguistic information
Name in other languagesAncient Greek: Ἄρης
TransliterationÁres
IPA pronunciation/ˈɛəriːz/
Meaning of name"battle"
Equivalents in other languagesMars (Roman mythology), Tyr (Norse mythology)
Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden- helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear, O defence of Olympus, father of warlike Victory, ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of righteous men, sceptred King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere among the planets in their sevenfold courses through the aether wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth!
Homeric Hymn to Ares[1]

In Greek mythology, Ares was one of the Twelve Olympians and the god of war, bloodlust, carnage, civil order, and manly courage. In Greek literature, Ares personifies the violent and untamed aspect of war, fought with bold force and strength, in stark contrast to Athena, who personifies thoughtfulness, wisdom and strategy in war. [2] Ares is portrayed as the son of Zeus and Hera, though Ovid related a later tradition stating Ares was parthenogenetically conceived by Hera by touching a flower.

Ares plays a fairly limited role in Greek mythology. He is well-known as the lover of Aphrodite, and the most famous story concerning both of them shows them being exposed to ridicule through a clever device employed by Aphrodite's husband, Hephaestus. His offspring and love affairs are frequently alluded to. His sons, Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror) as well as his sisters Enyo and Eris accompanied him on his war chariot.

An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, destructive or militarised quality. In the Iliad, Zeus calls Ares alloposallos, "most hated". Ares' value as a war god is questionable—in the Trojan War, he was on the losing side, while Athena, depicted as holding Nike (victory) in her hand, was on the side of the victorious Greeks. Homer's Ares is also personified as a coward, depicted as retreating screaming to Olympus whenever he was wounded.

Ares is equated with the Roman Mars, who held a far more dignified post in the Roman pantheon as the father of the founders of Rome. In later times, the mythology of the two figures became almost indistinguishable. His sacred animals were the boar and the serpent, while his sacred birds were the vulture, woodpecker and barn owl (not to confused with Athena's owl, the Little Owl).

NameEdit

The etymology of Ares is connected to the Greek ἀρή (arē), the Ionic form of the Doric ἀρά (ará), meaning "bane, ruin". The word is perhaps cognate to the Sanskrit irasyā, "malevolence", indicating a Proto-Indo-European origin. The word itself is used in the Iliad as a common noun meaning "battle".

The earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek 𐀀𐀩, a-re, written in the Linear B syllabic script.

Cult and worshipEdit

Ares' worship was not very widespread in Greece, except in times of war. His cult seemed to have been centered in the northern regions of Greece, especially in the areas of Thessaly, Thesprotia, and Thrace.

Shrines and sanctuariesEdit

Northern GreeceEdit

  • Thrace: Thrace was traditionally the birthplace of Ares, and Herodotus remarked "[the Thracians] worship no gods but Ares, Dionysos, and Artemis."

Southern GreeceEdit

  • Athens: From archaic times, the Areopagus, the "hill of Ares" at some distance north-west from the Acropolis, was a site of trials. In classical times, it functioned as the high Court of Appeal for criminal and civil cases. Paul of Tarsus later preached Christianity at the Areopagus. Also at Athens was a sanctuary of Ares, containing a statue of the god made by Athenian sculptor Alcamenes.
  • Argos: On the path from Argos to Mantinea, was a sanctuary of both Ares and Aphrodite.
  • Sparta: East of Sparta stood an archaic statue of the god in chains, to show that the spirit of war and victory was to be kept in the city. Also in Sparta was a sanctuary of Ares Theritas, named after his nurse Thero.

HymnsEdit

  • Homeric Hymns: Number 8, to Ares:
Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden- helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear, O defence of Olympus, father of warlike Victory, ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of righteous men, sceptered King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere among the planets in their sevenfold courses through the aether wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth! Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul. Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death.
Homeric Hymn to Ares[1]
  • Orphic Hymns: Number 64, to Mars/Ares:
Magnanimous, unconquered, boisterous Ares, in darts rejoicing, and in bloody wars; fierce and untamed, whose mighty power can make the strongest walls from their foundations shake: mortal-destroying king, defiled with gore, pleased with war’s dreadful and tumultuous roar. Thee human blood, and swords, and spears delight, and the dire ruin of mad savage fight. Stay furious contests, and avenging strife, whose works with woe embitter human life; to lovely Kypris and to Lyaios yield, for arms exchange the labors of the field; encourage peace, to gentle works inclined, and give abundance, with benignant mind.
Orphic Hymn to Ares[3]

In mythologyEdit

ImageryEdit

Physical descriptionEdit

In Greek art, Ares was depicted as either a mature, bearded warrior in armor, or as a nude youth with a beard and spear. Descriptions of his physical attributes are few; he is said to be muscular and awe-inspiring, clothed in gold armor, and tall and huge in size. Hesiod describes him as "blazing like the light of burning fire in his armor" and "red with blood". Quintus Smyrnaeus describes him as "swift as thunder" and states "his face is clothed with glory of beauty terror-blent".

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 H. G. Evelyn-White, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1914.
  2. William Smith, et al, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
  3. The Hymns of Orpheus. Translated by Taylor, Thomas (1792). University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

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