Ares

The Unforgiven Soldier

War, Chaos, Destruction, Fear

Warhound, Boar, Spear

"Insatiable in battle, blazing life the light of burning fire"

Hesiod, poet and mythologian

History

Ares is the patron of the bloody slaughter and looting of war. He delights in battle for the chaos and confusion it brings. This has not endeared him to mortal Greeks or to other gods.

The Lonely God

Ares is despised for his self-aggrandisement and love of chaos and killing. During the Trojan War he joined Aphrodite in siding with Troy, setting him against Athena, the goddess of strategy, who supported the Greeks. During the war Athena proved her superiority by knocking Ares flat with a thrown boulder.

Ares’ actions are shaped by his loneliness and isolation amongst the gods. When he is not distracted by a war he strikes out at the other gods, jealous of the love they receive. His relationship with Athena is especially bad as they rule contradictory aspects of warfare. She is not innocent in this conflict and has sponsored champions to oppose his plans, including Herakles who wounded Ares himself and killed the god's son Kyknos.

Love with Aphrodite

Ares' only friend is Aphrodite who loves him for his beauty and manful courage and has borne most of his children. Amongst these children are Phobos and Deimos, known as Fear and Terror, who are most often seen in horse form drawing Ares’ chariot into war. Ares jealously guards his relationship with the goddess. Aphrodite once took a demigod lover named Adonis and in a fit of jealousy Ares took the form of a boar and killed Adonis during a hunt.

His relationship with Aphrodite has created more enemies. Hephaestus caught Ares and Aphrodite together and entangled them in a net before dragging them in front of the Olympian court demanding justice. None of the other gods paid attention and it fell to Poseidon to persuade Hephaestus to let them go. In shame, Ares fled to Thrace for a time and the affair ended Aphrodite's marriage to Hephaestus.

Loyal Father and Loyal God

Ares had numerous children with Aphrodite and with other goddesses, nymphs and mortals. He installed many of them as kings and queens and they enjoyed his support for their entire lives. A few of these royal lines are still extant in Thrace and the Amazonian tribes. He is fiercely loyal to his children and almost died attempting to defend his son Kyknos. Another time, Ares caught Poseidon's son attacking his daughter Alkippe and killed the demigod for it. A trial was held and Ares was acquitted but this incensed Poseidon and gained Ares one more enemy.

Ares is loyal to his supporters, giving them armour and chariots to make war. To his daughter, Queen Hippolyte of the Amazons, he gave his own armour to aid her in attacking her neighbours. Athena's champion Herakles later stole the belt from the armour. In another gift the Amazons were provided with a flock of arrow-shooting birds to defend their own lands. A gift to another daughter, Amazonian Queen Penthesileia, was one of every weapon in the world.

The Thracian king Diomedes's gift was a herd of man-eating mares to guard his family. These were later stolen from him by Herakles under Athena's orders. Another Thracian king, Tereus, was given the chance to avenge his son after his wife and sister-in-law killed and cooked the boy. The women fled and transformed into a swallow and a nightingale by sympathetic gods. Ares responded by turning Tereus into a hawk so he could hunt them.

In the Olympian Age Ares had few champions besides his children. One exception is Cadmus, a wandering Phoenician prince. An oracle told him to find a cow with a half-moon on its flank and to found the new city of Thebes wherever the cow lay. Cadmus intended to sacrifice the cow to Athena and sent friends with it to a temple. A water dragon killed his companions and seized the temple until Cadmus slew the monster. However, the dragon was sacred to Ares who demanded eight years of service from Cadmus as payment. During this time Cadmus fell in love with Ares' daughter Harmonia and at the end of his service the two married. Thebes' new demigod queen Harmonia brought a measure of peace to Theban lands, though she inherited part of her father's taste and would ride into battle alongside Cadmus.

Goals and Champions

Ares was born after the Titanomachy and there is no quarrel between him and Cronus. The war god doesn't fear the Titans escaping and relishes the conflict their freedom will unleash. Champions are not therefore sent on missions to track down individual agents of the Titans. Ares prefers they wait until the Titan agents have subverted an entire city and triggered a full-scale battle which the god can enjoy.

Ares loves strength and those that use it. He wants Greece to gain strength through victory. Winning external wars builds that strength and wars between Greek poleis expunge the weak. This philosophy applies to his champions who should seek battle and become even stronger. Ares is sore that Athens and Thebes beat his beloved Spartans and will never miss the chance to use a champion to undermine those two poleis.

Champions of Ares can expect material support, but to a lesser extent than in the Olympic Age. He gifts weapons and armour to his followers but the flesh-eating horses are rare now. Mortals are chosen for their devotion to warfare for its own sake, and are often Spartans, barbarians or mercenaries.

Personality and Appearance

Ares appears as a tall, muscular adult man with a thick, close-shaven beard. His skin is tanned and rough from exposure to the harsh sunlight of Greek battlefields. He is always dressed for war in an ornate panoply along with his sword and shield. In battle he rides his flaming chariot drawn by his children Phobos and Deimos in their horse forms, flanked by his packs of massive warhounds.

Cults and Worship

Unlike Athena who is loved by mortals, Ares' worshippers come from the more warlike people. Ares is feared and mortals everywhere pray that he will stay away from their homes.

Ares' most fervent followers are the Amazons whose line of queens are descended from him. The warrior women derive their fighting spirit from Ares and erect temples in his honour. They invoke his name when fighting, especially when against Athenians.

Ares is worshipped in Sparta as the ideal to which every Spartan man should strive. Young Spartans will sacrifice a puppy, his sacred animal, to him before engaging in ritual combat in the arena. A great statue of Ares, depicting him in chains, stands outside the city of Sparta. This symbolises the spirit of war being bound to the polis and never leaving the city or its people.

He is actively worshipped by the barbaric people of Thrace and Scythia, who believe that he lives there and not on Olympus. Ares is the first god to have extended their worship into the north like this.

Discussion

Mark Foster, 2013/08/12 19:15

perhaps of interest to strengthen him so he's not the whipping boy.

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open/settings/6d6hellenic/ares.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/08 17:11 by tregenza
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