A Conversation with the Gods: Ares

  • SumoMe

The Return of Ares
© Mellissa Briley

Apollo’s light breaks through the ground
let them speak, these stories
of old.

Marble sinks,
weeds grow.
Pottery breaks,
wisdom folds.

Athena is shaking
Home is fading
but I’m not leaving
until these war drums stop beating.

Poseidon’s scream
rises from the ground.
A tidal wave approaches,
Zeus approves from above.

Wake up Ares
it’s time to come home.
Wake up Ares
it’s time for war.

 

Ares, the God of War and Father of Victory. The fire of us, the warrior of us, the danger of us.

Ares has been haunting my poetry of late, maybe it’s because after years of psychological fatigue, modern Greece is in a sort of uprising. A fire has rekindled, snapping through the sky. When ancient warriors summoned the Ares percussion of war, he would arrive with a battle cry of ten thousand men. And for anybody who has been to Sytogma Square during demonstrations, you have felt the energy of Ares.

Yet, not enough is understood about this God. Perhaps his legacy is still buried on painted pot shards, under the soil of Greece waiting patiently for the hands of archaeologist to awaken sleeping memory.

 

 

The Troubled Beginnings of Ares

Though it is said Zeus and Hera were his parents, technically Ares was fatherless, as he was born immaculately when Hera took a magical herb.

Ares had a terrible childhood. He was often mocked and criticized for never following the rules. Nobody took him seriously; he was captured by giants who trapped him in a bronze jar. He was eventually rescued by Hermes.

Loyalty in Love

Ares never married, but his relationships were long. He never used trickery to woe his lovers, he was straight forward, loyal and fiercely protective.

Father of Amazons and Harmonia (from his controversial affair with Aphrodite) Ares promptly came to the defense of all he cared for, especially his children.  This often resulted in his being criticized for using emotion over reason; Ares would often find himself in trouble and in my opinion, very misunderstood – as often happens when the fire of emotion temporary  stuns the senses . 

After Ares sided with Aphrodite during the war of Troy and returned home from the battlefield, injured, Zeus had this to say:

 

Iliad, Book 5, lines 798–891, 895–898

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 Olympus.
Forever quarreling 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.”

Battle

Ares rode into battle accompanied by his two sons: Fear (Phobos) and Panic (Daiemos). Whether you evoke Ares or he evokes you – the Ancients where very conscious of the overwhelming power of this God.

Homeric Hymn 8 to Ares:

“Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden-helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer . . . leader of the righteous men, sceptred King of manliness . . . Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul.”

Consciously, Ancient Greeks understood that with the rage of Ares, came the horrors of war.  

But something that is often forgot, is that Ares also represented raw courage. The Spartans knew: they had a  statue of Ares wrapped in chains, symbolizing that strength and victory is continuous

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