A is for Ares

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Ares, problematic God of war, Lover of Aphrodite, and Father of Harmonia, Demos and Phobos. (Harmony, Fear and Terror). Some sources say all the children are by Aphrodite, but others don’t.

A difficult God, especially in this day of drones and war without cease or even, cause, he isn’t the macho, swaggering, behemoth you’d expect. He was the deity of bloodlust, civil order and manly courage.

War was a vastly different beast back in the day. It was mostly, hand to hand combat, there was none of this drop a bunch of bombs and shrug your shoulders that you’re killing babies and children. It was intense, it took skill, martial prowess, bravery and strength. Far more bravery than pushing a button that drops a bomb and destroys an entire civilization.

There were also rules to war in Ancient Greece, and from what I can tell, these were respected by both sides.

“Here are the implicit rules of engagement, the “common customs,” for Greeks fighting Greeks, in that hoplite period, 700-450:

  • War declared before hostilities
  • Hostilities sometimes inappropriate (festivals etc)
  • Some places are protected, and some persons (shrines, heralds)
  • Trophies are respected
  • Return of dead
  • Ritual challenge and acceptance
  • Ransom don’t execute prisoners
  • Restrain punishment of surrendered opponents
  • Noncombatants not a proper target of attack
  • Fight in proper season
  • Limit pursuit of defeated and retreating foes”

From here: http://courses.temple.edu/pericles/ober.htm

I’m not in any way saying that War is fun, or good-then or now. I am saying that the war we rail against today is vastly different from the war of yesterday.

So before we discount him, let’s think of what we could gain from Ares should we choose to learn from him.

Honor, the ability to defend ourselves, our homes, our loved ones, how to exhibit attractive masculine qualities (I mean, he attracted Aphrodite…), how to deal with hostile entities and people with civility.

And yes, he probably killed Adonis in a jealous fit of rage. And, no he didn’t have endless priests and temples, even at the height of Greek Civilization. I’m not suggesting that you take his myths as a guideline for life, just that you try and see him in a different light, especially if you’re an Aphrodite devotee.

I’m not an Ares devotee, but I am an Aphrodite devotee, and I firmly believe that if she loves him, there is something worth loving there.

Plus, there’s this:

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 180 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
“Agraulos [daughter of Kekrops king of Athens] and Ares had a daughter Alkippe. As Halirrhothios, son of Poseidon and a nymphe named Eurtye, was trying to rape Alkippe, Ares caught him at it and slew him. Poseidon had Ares tried on the Areopagos with the twelve gods presiding. Ares was acquitted.”

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