Ares is the god of war and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods and the son of Zeus and Hera. In literature Ares represents the violent and physical untamed aspect of war, which is in contrast to Athena who represents military strategy and generalship as the goddess of intelligence.
Although Ares embodied the physical aggression necessary for success in war, the Greeks were ambivalent toward him because he was a dangerous, overwhelming force that was insatiable in battle.
He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, who was married to Hephaestus, and though Ares plays a limited role in literature, when he does appear in myths it is typically facing humiliation. For example, one famous story of Ares and Aphrodite exposes them to ridicule by the gods when her husband Hephaestus trapped them both naked in a bed using a clever device he made.
Facts about Ares
- Ares was most notably referred to as the God of War; he represented the unpleasant aspects of battle.
- Both his parents hated him (according to Homer).
- Ares was most often characterized as a coward in spite of his connection to war; he responded to even the slightest injury with outrage.
- Ares was never very popular. As a result, his worship in Greece was not substantial or widespread.
- The Amazons were his daughters.
- Harmonia, Goddess of Harmony, was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite.
- Eros (more commonly known as Cupid) was also the child of Ares and Aphrodite.
- In art, Ares is generally depicted wearing a spear and a helmet.
Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra and Thor.
Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronus’s stomach. In most traditions, he is married to Hera, by whom he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus. At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was also infamous for his erotic escapades.
He was respected as an allfather who was chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. Zeus’ symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.
Hera is the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth in ancient Greek religion and myth, one of the Twelve Olympians and the sister-wife of Zeus. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera rules over Mount Olympus as queen of the gods. A matronly figure, Hera served as both the patroness and protectress of married women, presiding over weddings and blessing marital unions. One of Hera’s defining characteristics is her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus’ numerous lovers and illegitimate offspring, as well as the mortals who cross her.
Hera is commonly seen with the animals she considers sacred including the cow, lion and the peacock. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may hold a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy.
Athena or Athene is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare, who was later syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens, from which she most likely received her name. She is usually shown in art wearing a helmet and holding a spear. Her major symbols include owls, olive trees, snakes, and the Gorgoneion.
Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite’s major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans.
He is a Greek god of blacksmiths, metalworking, carpenters, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metallurgy, fire, and volcanoes. Hephaestus’ Roman equivalent is Vulcan. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was either the son of Zeus and Hera or he was Hera’s parthenogenous child. He was cast off Mount Olympus by his mother because of his deformity or, in another account, by Zeus for protecting Hera from his advances.
As a smithing god, Hephaestus made all the weapons of the gods in Olympus. He served as the blacksmith of the gods, and was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial centers of Greece, particularly Athens. The cult of Hephaestus was based in Lemnos. Hephaestus’ symbols are a smith’s hammer, anvil, and a pair of tongs.
The Amazons were a tribe of women warriors related to Scythians and Sarmatians. Apollonius Rhodius, at Argonautica, mentions that Amazons were the daughters of Ares and Harmonia (a nymph of the Akmonian Wood). They were brutal and aggressive, and their main concern in life was war. Lysias, Isocrates, Philostratus the Elder also say that their father was Ares.
Eros is the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid (“desire”). Normally, he is described as one of the children of Aphrodite and Ares, and with most of his siblings, was a part of a group, consisting of winged love gods. However, sometimes he is also described as one of the primordial gods, but then, he is most often identified with Phanes.