Greek God of War
Ares is the god of war, one of the Twelve Olympian gods and the son of Zeus and Hera. In literature Ares represents the violent and physical untamed aspect of war, which is in contrast to Athena who represents military strategy and generalship as the goddess of intelligence.
Although Ares embodied the physical aggression necessary for success in war, the Greeks were ambivalent toward him because he was a dangerous, overwhelming force that was insatiable in battle.
He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, who was married to Hephaestus, and though Ares plays a limited role in literature, when he does appear in myths it is typically facing humiliation. For example, one famous story of Ares and Aphrodite exposes them to ridicule by the gods when her husband Hephaestus trapped them both naked in a bed using a clever device he made.
Facts about Ares
- Ares was most notably referred to as the God of War; he represented the unpleasant aspects of battle.
- He was the son of Zeus and Hera, both of whom hated him (according to Homer).
- Ares was most often characterized as a coward in spite of his connection to war; he responded to even the slightest injury with outrage.
- According to some sources, Ares was described as Aphrodite’s lover and was held in contempt by her husband, Hephaestus. The affair between them was not a secret among the Olympians.
- Ares was never very popular—either with men or the other immortals. As a result, his worship in Greece was not substantial or widespread.
- He came from Thrace, home of a fierce people in the northeast of Greece.
- His bird was the vulture.
- The Amazons, warrior women, were his daughters. Their mother was a peace-loving nymph named Harmony.
- 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 always took the side of Aphrodite in the Trojan War. He fought for Hector (a Trojan) until a Greek warrior pierced him with a spear that was guided by Athena. He then departed the battlefield in order to complain to Zeus about Athena’s violence.
- Harmonia, Goddess of Harmony, was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite.
- Eros (more commonly known as Cupid) was also the child of Ares and Aphrodite.
- Tereus, a son of Ares, was known to have inherited his father’s abhorrent qualities.
- Ares was the biological father of at least three of Hercules’ enemies: Cycnus, Lycaon, and Diomedes.
- Ares had a sister named Eris, who was the Goddess of Discord.
- Hebe, another sister of his, was the Goddess of Youth.
- Ares rarely figures into mythology stories, but when he does, he usually suffers some form of humiliation.
- Ares was associated with two other war deities: Enyalius and Enyo.
- Ares had many offspring, which is characteristic of nearly all of the notable Greek gods. He conceived more mortal children than divine children.
- In art, Ares is generally depicted wearing a spear and a helmet.
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