In Greek mythology, Ares was one of the twelve Olympus gods. He was the god of war and violence. Ares was born and lived on Mount Olympus. He was known for his destructive behavior. His sister, Athena, was the goddess of war. She was characterized as intelligent, knowledgeable, and strategic which she used to win wars. Ares was known for savagery, hostility, and rage. Most of the other Olympians, including his parents Hera and Zeus, didn’t like Ares very much (Nelson). Ares was called Mars by the Romans, although the Roman god of Mars was much more important to the Romans than Ares was to the Greeks (Gill). Mars had agricultural as well as warlike functions, and at least in the Augustan cult of Mars Ultor, he was capable of embodying the idea of righteous vengeance, while his Greek counterpart was no more than a divine swashbuckler (Hard and Rose 127).
Ares was the son of Greek gods Zeus and Hera. When Ares was very young, he was captured by Ephialtes and Otos, sons of the Giant Aloeus, and put into a bronze jar. He would have remained there forever; however, the giants’ mother found out and told the god Hermes who rescued Ares (Nelson). After being imprisoned by the giants, Hera decided that Ares should be raised some place else. Ares was sent away from Mount Olympus to live on Earth. Ares was then raised by a god named Priapus. Priapus refused to teach Ares anything about warfare until he had first been taught how to dance. It was only when Ares had mastered dancing that he was able to learn more about warfare and fighting (Geller). Ares is believed to be Zeus’ only son when he was married to Hera. Zeus did not like Ares. In fact, Ares may have been Zeus’ least favorite god, and there was a time when Zeus alluded that he would banish Ares to Tartarus if he wasn’t his own son (Geller).
Geller shares a glimpse of Ares’ reckless and irresponsible behaviors by stating “It was also known that Ares wasn’t one to respect the boundaries of another’s happiness – even when it came to marriage”. One of the most famous stories involving Ares is that he had an affair with Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the wife of Ares’s brother, Hephaestus. Hephaestus was the god of fire and metalworking. Hephaestus caught Ares and Aphrodite engaged in passionate lovemaking. He trapped them in an unbreakable metal web. Hephaestus then called all the gods and goddesses over to see Ares and Aphrodite trapped in their shameful situation. Although the lovers were caught in a compromising position, the gods watching envied Ares (Gill).
Ares and Aphrodite never married; however, Ares fathered children by Aphrodite. The number varies depending on the source, but it has been confirmed that Deimos, Phobos, and Harmonia were all born to Ares (Geller). Phobos, the god of fear and phobias, and Deimos, the god of terror, accompanied their grim father in battles (Mandal). They had a daughter, Harmonia, the goddess of harmony. Later sources also include Adrestia, the goddess of revolt, and the four Erotes – Eros, Anteros, Pothos, and Himeros as being children of Aphrodite and Ares (Geller).
Ares is described as a mature, bearded man that was strong, harnessed in bronze, and wore a golden helmet. He rode in a war chariot pulled by four fire-breathing horses. The serpent, owls, vultures, and woodpecker are sacred to him (Gill). Ares’ special powers were those of strength and physicality. As the god of war, he was a superior fighter in battle and caused great bloodshed and destruction wherever he went (Nelson). Ares was often characterized as a coward. He over reacted at the slightest injury. Ares complained to his father, Zeus, often.
Although it was generally agreed that Ares was one of the most hated and least respected god in Greek Mythology, it is notable to mention Ares has some of the best relationships with women out of all of the gods (Geller). Ares was known for generally showing respect toward his parents. It was his only “soft” side or compassionate attribute (Geller).
Most of Ares’ children had the same attributes as their father. They worked to show their admiration in and respect for Ares in strange and often grotesque ways. An example of these acts is when Ares’ mortal son Cycnus, spelled Kyknos in some sources, wanted to build a temple of Ares out of human bones. Cycnus was an evil man who was extremely cruel. He had a habit of killing both humans and animals in brutal fashion and then stealing their bones. His plans were to use the bones to build a temple in his father’s honor. Eventually, the other gods and goddesses grew tired of the killing. They decided to intervene and had Hercules kill Cycnus to bring an end to his reign of terror (Geller).
As the god of war and violence, Ares was the personification of the bloodlust and cruelty that took place during battles (Nelson). According to the Hesiodic Shield, Ares fought the Greek hero Heracles twice and lost both times. First Heracles brought Ares to the ground with a thigh wound during the fighting at Pylos, and later in a single combat when he was attacked by Ares after killing his son Kyknos (Hard and Rose 131).
Trojan War Ares took the side of Troy, unlike most of the Olympians. He was against his sister Athena. Ares hurled a spear at Athena’s chest, but because she wore the Helm of Death she was able to deflect the spear and return a powerful blow herself by hurling a boulder at Ares. The boulder hit Ares with tremendous force and caused him to cry out so loudly that he was heard over all the chaos on the battlefield (Geller). At one point, Ares was wounded and went to Zeus to complain, but Zeus just ignored him (Nelson). Athena and the Greeks defeated Ares the Trojans.
Ares brutally killed Halirrhothius, a son of Poseidon, after he attacked Ares’ daughter. When Poseidon learned of what had happened to Halirrhothius, he was furious. Poseidon called for a trial for the killing of his son – which may be the earliest recorded murder trial in history. The trial wall held on a hill in Mount Olympus that is now called Aeropagus (Ares’ Hill). Ares was eventually found ‘not guilty’ of all charges (Geller).
Geller, Prof. “Greek Gods Ares” Mythology.net. 2018. mythology.net/greek/greek-gods/ares/
Gill, N.S. “Ares: The Greek God of War and Violence.” ThoughtCo, Mar. 29, 2018,
Hard, Robin, and H. J. Rose. The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology?: Based on H.J.
Rose’s Handbook of Greek Mythology. Routledge, 2004. nwosu.on.worldcat.org/oclc/55204507
Mandel, Dattatreya “20 Major Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses You Should Know About”
Realm of History, May 15, 2018, www.realmofhistory.com/2018/05/15/facts-ancient-greek-gods-goddesses/
Nelson, Ken. “Greek Mythology: Ares” Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Nov.