Ares, the Greek god of war was according to most accounts the only son born to Zeus and Hera. His ill-temper and brutish behavior caused him to be loathed by both his parents and with the exception of Aphrodite, despised by his fellow Olympians.
Though he was the god of war, Ares was known to be a bit of a coward and would often be seen making a hasty retreat as soon as the fighting became too intense.
He was usually joined on the battlefield by his sister Eris, the goddess of discord and her son Strife. His other companions were the war goddess Enyo as well as Terror, Fear, Trembling and Panic, all of whom were said to be braver than Ares himself.
Ares was prone to change sides often, and was never known to be loyal to one place or to a specific group of people. His worship was not wide spread across Greece, in fact there were no cities where he was celebrated as a patron god.
There were a few places outside of Greece known for Ares worship; Thrace, which the god hailed as his homeland and Scythia, where both men and animals were sacrificed in front of a great sword used to represent the god.
The first homicide case ever to be tried in ancient Greece had a direct connection back to Ares. It seems that the god accused Poseidon's son Halirrhothius of trying to rape his daughter Alcippe. An argument took place during which Halirrhothius lost his life. The only witness to the act was Alcippe, who readily confirmed her father's story.
Ares was acquitted of the crime, and because this was the first judgement ever to be pronounced in a murder trial, the Athenian hill that hosted the court proceedings was named the Areopagus or Hill of Ares. It still bears that name today.
While Ares never married he did go on to father many children with both goddesses and mortals alike. Below are some of his more famous offspring.
Ares' affair with Aphrodite produced four sons; Eros (love), Anteros (love returned), Deimos (fear) and Phobos (panic) and two daughters; Harmonia and Adrestia.
The twins Demios and Phobos sat upon their father's chariot as he rode into battle. Both were highly revered in Sparta, where blood sacrifices were customarily offered to the pair on both past and present battlefields.
Just as Demios and Phobos were the constant companions of their father Ares, the love gods Eros and Anteros were faithful attendants to their mother Aphrodite. It is said that because Eros was lonely and in need of a playmate Anteros was created in his image.
Eros was the god of passionate, lustful love while Anteros represented a more pure and selfless form of affection. He was also the avenger of unrequited love and was known to severely punish those who scorned the romantic sentiments of others.
Adrestia was also known to accompany her father into battle. She was the goddess of just retribution and revolution, and because she was deemed to be the center of balance between good and evil is often found in the company of the goddess Nemesis . Her sister Harmonia was the goddess of the unity and peace that embodies all aspects of everyday life.
The Amazons also professed to being the daughters of Ares, adding truth to the belief that Queen Hippolyta's famous belt was a gift from the god himself. It was also rumored that Atlanta, though being very adament about her distaste for men gave birth to one of Ares children.
For the next pair of famous siblings we must step away from Greece for just a moment. According to legend the god Mars (Ares' Roman counterpart) fathered the twin brothers Romulus and Remus with a Vestal Virgin named Rhea Silvia. The pair would eventually go on to found the great city of Rome.
We very seldom find Ares featured in the forefront of the mythological tales of the Greeks. He is usually more of a background character adding a bit of contention to the otherwise peaceful life of the story's principal players.
One of Ares' most famous adventures centers around his ongoing affair with the very beautiful and very married goddess Aphrodite. Wanting to keep their scandalous rendezvous hidden from the prying eyes of the sun god Helios, Ares placed a youth by the name of Alectryon outside of his bedchamber door.
Alectryon was instructed to keep a watchful eye on the heavens and alert the god the moment he saw the golden chariot come into view. Unfortunately, the careless young man fell asleep thus allowing Helios to witness Aphrodite cradled in her lover's arms.
Without wasting a moment, the loose-tongued sun god flew directly to her husband Hephaestus and reported what he saw. To punish Alectryon for his negligent behavior Ares transformed him into a rooster, who with loud voice would be forever destined to announce the first beams of sunlight visible in the morning sky.
It was not unusual for Ares to find himself surrounded by humiliating circumstances. One day the two twin giants Otus and Ephilates set out to prove that they were greater than all of the Olympian gods. In order to make a name for themselves, the pair decided to capture the god of war and imprison him inside of a large brazen jar.
After kidnapping Ares from his home in Thrace, the two brothers placed the god in chains and forced him to climb into the bronze vessel. They then traveled to the home of their stepmother Eriboea, where for the next thirteen months the urn containing the helpless god remained until he was finally set free by Hermes.
Cycnus was also known to rob those on their way to offer gifts and sacrifices in Apollo's temple at Delphi. One day as the hero Heracles and his nephew Iolaus were out riding in their chariot they happened to encounter Aries and Cycnus coming from the opposite direction.
As they neared the Temple of Apollo Cycnus confronted Heracles and challenged him to a sword fight. Always ready to do battle, Heracles swiftly took hold of his spear and plunged it into Cycnus' throat killing him instantly. When Ares tried to avenge his son's death, he was restrained by the goddess Athena.
Heracles then picked up his sword and sliced into the war god's thigh leaving him gravely wounded and crying out in pain. Ares' two sons Deimos and Phobos came to their father's rescue and hastened him back to Mount Olympus.
Cycnus was buried by King Ceyx of Thessaly, but as revenge for all the transgressions made against his worshipers, Apollo caused the river Anaurus to flood and wash the grave away.
Medea's Lair Of Greek Mythology © 1999-2016.