Greek & Roman Mythology – Ares or Mars



A son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hera (Juno), according to the belief of the Greeks, was originally god of the storm and tempest, and more particularly of the hurricane; but this his natural meaning was lost sight of at an earlier period, and more completely than in the case of most of the other gods, the character in which he appears to us being exclusively that of “god of the turmoil and storms in human affairs,” in other words, “god of dreadful war,” or more correctly, “of the wild confusion and strife of battle.”  Of all the upper gods he was the most fierce and terrible, taking pleasure in slaughter and massacre.

In this respect he forms a striking contrast to Pallas Athene, the goddess of well-matched chivalrous fights, who we often find opposed to him in mythical narratives.  When fighting she was invulnerable, and always on the side of the victor; while Ares (Mars) being not only god of battle but also a personification of war, with its double issue of victory and defeat, was sometimes wounded, and even taken prisoner.

When assisting the Trojans in their war with the Greeks, in the course of which he took under his special protection their leader, Hector, he was wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes, aided by the goddess Athene.  He fell – so Homer describes the event in the Iliad (v. 853) – with a thundering crash to the ground, like the noise of ten thousand warriors engaged in battle.  Again (Iliad xxi.400) he was wounded by Athene and fell, his armor clanking, and his body covering with his fall seven acres of ground – an obvious reference to the roar and destruction attending a great storm.

He was once captured by Otus and Ephialtes, the giant sons of Aloeus the planter, and kept imprisoned in a great bronze vase (Iliad v. 385) for thirteen months – a space of time which, when we remember that the names of the two heroes are derived from husbandry, seems to indicate a full year of peaceful agriculture.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897


Further Reading and External Links

Greek Mythology on Wikipedia

Ares – God of War