Ares, god of war and destruction

aresAres was a Olympian god of war, violence and destruction. He was not welcomed by both gods and mortals in Greek mythology, nor ancient Greeks themselves, well with the few exceptions such as Spartans and the Amazons. He is often compared with his half sister Athena who is also, like Ares, associated with war activities. However, while Athena is respected and appreciated for her warfare, strategy, courage and wisdom, Ares is seen as the force of destruction, savage warfare and bloodlust. No one really liked his activities because, wherever he went, he left traces of misfortune and aberration behind. Despite his unpopularity, he was worshiped and honored in Crete and Peloponnese, where military bases of Spartans could be found, as well as in Pontus, the northern part of modern Turkey, where Amazones lived.

Appearance in the works of art

Most of the time, he was depicted as a young beardless warrior without clothes, only wearing a helm and perhaps holding a shield or a spear in his hands. In other cases, he is depicted as a fully grown warrior, wearing armor and holding a shield in one and a sword or spear in the other.

Abducted by Aloadae giants

Ares was a son of Zeus and Hera. Unloved by his father and preoccupied mother, he was forced to live under his own guidance at Mount Olympus. He one day went missing in his quest to protect his home and the kingdom of the gods. No one really cared about it and it later turned out that he was abducted by twin Aloadae giants who wanted to destroy the gods. Young Ares was imprisoned in a bronze jar for thirteen months, until the mother of the giants found out about their hostile behaviour and informed Hermes who came to rescue and freed him from the clasps of the malevolent giants.

Affair with Aphrodite

During his time at Mount Olympus, he was involved in the adultery with Aphrodite, a wife of Hephaestus, who was also a resident there. Helios once spied on the couple and told Hephaestus about this affair. The angry husband made a special net and trapped them when they were in a very intimate position. Then he invited other gods to see them. As a result of this act and continuous tension between the gods, Ares was banished from Olympus. He found refuge in Thrace, his birthplace.

Rescuing Thanatos

Thanatos, the personification of death was imprisoned by king Sisyphus, after the king had tricked 'the death' into handcuffing himself.mars influenced sisyphus fate Sisyphus held Thanatos as captive for over a month before Ares, bored with life and wars of the Greeks, decided to rescue him. He went before the king and threatened that he would decapitate him, if he refused to release Thanatos and turn himself into Hades' prisoner. Sisyphus then, in fear of the wrath of Ares, freed Thanatos and turned himself in but later Hades, on the advice of Persephone, released him from the underworld after Merope, a wife of Sisyphus, on his orders threw his naked body into the middle of a public square. He convinced Persephone that he wants to scold his wife for not burying his body and giving it a proper funeral. When released, he scolded his wife but had no plan of returning back to the underworld. As a punishment for his trickery, Zeus sent Sisyphus to Tartarus and made him roll a huge boulder up a steep hill for eternity. Before he could reach the top, the massive stone would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again, repeatedly.

Trojan war

Ares was also heavily involved in Trojan war. When the war had started, he promised his mother Hera and half sister Athena that he would fight for the Greeks. However, he was persuaded by his lover Aphrodite whose heart was with the Trojans, mostly because of Paris. Therefore, Ares broke his promise and took allegiance with the Trojans. He was also noted in Homer's Iliad to be leading the Trojans on a battlefield, accompanied with his frightening sons Phobos and Deimos and his sister Eris. He was, like many gods, wounded in the battlefield by Diomedes and Athena. They were on a chariot which was on the way to collision with Ares. But Ares only saw Diomedes because Athena was wearing the helm of darkness. Ares threw a spear towards Diomedes which was intercepted by Athena. And it was Diomedes' turn to throw his spear. Guided by Athena, it hit Ares in the stomach, causing him so much pain that he had to withdraw from the battle. Ares also lost a son in the war, called Ascalaphus. At that time all the gods were ordered by Zeus to be withdrawn from the battle. Despite orders from his king, Ares in his rage wanted to avenge his son, but was restrained by Athena.