Profile of Ares
Son of Zeus and Hera, in Greek mythology, the shiny-armored, spear-carrying, 4-horse war chariot-riding Ares was god of slaughter, warfare, and warriors. Because Ares killed men, he was hated by the Greeks. As a result there are few Greek cults of Ares, with temples mainly on Crete and the Peloponnese. However, Ares was also known as a god of courage, the savior of cities and father of victory. Athena was also a goddess of war, but she was not associated with the wanton violence that followed in Ares' wake, and therefore was respected.
The Bad Company Ares Kept
The love goddess Aphrodite was Ares' lover. Their children, Deimos 'Terror' and Phobos 'Fear', accompanied Ares, and help explain why Ares' variety of warfare earned so much hatred. In addition, there is the notorious goddess of Discord (Eris), who used a golden apple to start the conflict among the gods that led to the Trojan War. She was another companion of Ares.
Ares and Aphrodite
Homer refers to an amusing story about how Hephaestus caught his wife Aphrodite and her lover Ares in a net. Instead of the other gods being outraged, there is the distinct sense that they were a bit jealous of Ares.
Attributes of Ares
Poisonous serpents, owls, vultures, and woodpeckers were sacred to Ares. Ares is said to be from Thrace. He is the mythological ancestor of the Thebans as a result of Cadmus' slaying of Ares' dragon offspring and marriage to Ares' daughter Harmonia. His iconography is not particularly distinctive. Early images have him bearded and later ones show him as a beardless youth.
The Romans called their highly respected war god and counterpart to Ares Mars. Mars was named as the father of Romulus and Remus.
Sources on Ares
Classical Sources on Ares include:
- The Iliad
- The Odyssey
- Shield of Heracles
- The Homeric Hymns
- The Anacreontea
- Quintus Smyrnaeus
- Antoninus Liberalis
- Valerius Flaccus
Fritz Graf "Ares" The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. Oxford University Press, 1998. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.