Ares - Character, Origins, and Worship

Character, Origins, and Worship

Ares was one of the Twelve Olympians in the archaic tradition represented by the Iliad and Odyssey, but Zeus expresses a recurring Greek revulsion toward the god when Ares returns wounded and complaining from the battlefield at Troy:

Then looking at him darkly Zeus who gathers the clouds spoke to him:
'Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar.
To me you are the most hateful of all gods who hold Olympos.
Forever quarrelling is dear to your heart, wars and battles.

And yet I will not long endure to see you in pain, since
you are my child, and it was to me that your mother bore you.
But were you born of some other god and proved so ruinous
long since you would have been dropped beneath the gods of the bright sky."

This ambivalence is expressed also in the god's association with the Thracians, who were regarded by the Greeks as a barbarous and warlike people. Thrace was Ares' birthplace, true home, and refuge after the affair with Aphrodite was exposed to the general mockery of the other gods.

A late-6th-century BC funerary inscription from Attica emphasizes the consequences of coming under Ares' sway:

Stay and mourn at the tomb of dead Kroisos
Whom raging Ares destroyed one day, fighting in the foremost ranks.

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