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ARES ESTATE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Roman Name
Αρης Arês Ares Mars
OTHER ARES PAGES

Ares Intro, Index & Gallery
Ares God of
Ares Myths Part 1, Part 2
Ares Wrath
Ares Favour
Ares Family
Ares Loves
Ares Attendants
Ares Cult & Titles
Ares Summary

ARES was the great Olympian god of war, battlelust and manliness. This page describes the divine attributes and estate of the god, as well as his sacred animals.

The usual attributes of Ares in art were his (rather undistinctive) war armour and spear. However he was sometimes depicted holding a serpent or with a serpent-device on his shield.

The god had few sacred animals, the poisonous serpent being the most important.


(1) ESTATE & ATTRIBUTES
CHARIOT OF ARES Ares drove a golden-reined chariot drawn by four fire-breathing horses.
SPEAR OF ARES Ares brandished a bronze-tipped spear in battle.
ARMOUR OF ARES Ares wore golden armour (helm, cuirass, war-belt, shield and greaves) which shone with a burning light.
PALACE OF ARES The palace of Ares stood either upon Mount Olympos (along with the other mansions of the gods) or upon Mount Haimos in Thrake. His Thrakian palace was an iron fortress adorned with war-booty and guarded by various divine sentries.
SHRINE-GUARDIANS OF ARES Several of the mythical shrines of Ares were endowed with monstrous guardians: - the Sacred Groves of Ares at Thebes and Kholkis each had a guardian Drakon; and the Sacred Amazon Island of Ares had arrow-shooting birds.
SPARTOI, EARTH-BORN WARRIORS OF ARES The Spartoi were armed warriors which sprang fully-grown from the earth, when the teeth of Ares' Guardian Drakones were sown in a field sacred to the god.
(2) SACRED PLANTS & ANIMALS
EAGLE-OWL & BARN OWL: SACRED BIRDS Two species of owl, were regarded as sacred to the god Ares. They were birds of ill-omen, presaging war and sedition.
SNAKE POISONOUS: SACRED ANIMAL The poisonous serpent was sacred to the god Ares. Several of his groves are described in myth guarded by these beasts, and in sculpture and art he often bears a serpent or serpent device.
VULTURE: SACRED BIRD The vulture was a bird of ill omen. Because it haunted the battlefield feeding upon the bodies of the dead, it was closely associated with the war-god Ares.
WOODPECKER: SACRED BIRD The woodpecker was a bird of good fortune believed to be sacred to the god Ares.

CHARIOT & HORSES OF ARES

Homer, Iliad 5. 352 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Aphrodite was wounded by Diomedes in the Trojan War:] Dropping on one knee before her beloved brother [Ares] in deep supplication she asked for his gold-bridled horses: ‘Beloved brother, rescue me and give me your horses so I may come to Olympos where is the place of the immortals . . .’
So she spoke, and Ares gave her the gold-bridled horses, and, still grieved in the inward heart, she mounted the chariot and beside her entering Iris gathered the reins up and whipped them into a run, and they winged their way unreluctant. Now as they came to sheer Olympos, the place of the immortals, there swift Iris the wind-footed reined in her horses and slipped them from the yoke and threw fodder immortal before them."

Homer, Iliad 15. 110 ff :
"[Ares] ordered Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) to harness his horses, and himself god into his shining armour."

Homer, Odyssey 8. 267 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Ares, god of the golden reins."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 56 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Ares insatiable in battle, blazing like the light of burning fire in his armour and standing in his chariot, and his running horses trampled and dented the ground with their hooves, and the dust swirled up around them, beaten up between the compacted chariot and the feet of the horses, and the well-put-together chariots and their rails clattered to the gallop of the straining horses."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 463 ff :
"Phobos (Panic) and Deimos (Terror) drove their smooth-running chariot and horses close up to him [Ares when he was wounded by Herakles], and lifted him from the wide-wayed earth and set him in the elaborate chariot and presently lashed on the horses, and they made their way to tall Olympos."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 191 ff :
"And [depicted] on the shield [of Herakles] stood the fleet-footed horses of grim Ares . . . he was red with blood as if he were slaying living men, and he stood in his chariot. Beside him stood Deimos (Fear) and Phobos (Flight), eager to plunge amidst the fighting men."

Homeric Hymn 2 to Ares (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic B.C.) :
"Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider . . . who whirl your fiery sphere [the star Mars] among the planets in their sevenfold courses through the aither wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 8. 239 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"Murderous Ares came [to the battlefields of Troy], unmarked of other Gods, down from the heavens, eager to help the warrior sons of Troy. Aithon (Red-fire) and Phlogios (Flame), Konabos (Tumult) and Phobos (Panic-fear), his car-steeds, bare him down into the fight, the coursers which to roaring Boreas grim-eyed Erinnys bare, coursers that breathed life-blasting flame: groaned all the shivering air, as battleward they sped. Swiftly he came to Troy: loud rang the earth beneath the feet of that wild team."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 820 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Gradivus [Ares] . . . leaning upon his spear he leapt into his bloodstained chariot and cracked his whip and lashed his team and, plunging through the sky, stood on the sylvan peak of Palatium [in Rome]."

Virgil, Aeneid 8. 414 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"The Cyclopes were hard at work in the underground iron-foundry [of Hephaistos] . . . a job was being hurried on for Mars [Ares] - a chariot with swift wheels, such as he rides in to rouse up men and nations."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 3. 89 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Iovis Terrorque Pavorque (Fear and Dread), the horses of Mars [Ares]."

Statius, Thebaid 7. 64 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Earth trembles, and horned [river] Hebrus bellows and stays his torrent’s flow; then all the war-steeds that troubled the valley sped foaming o'er the frightened meads, sure sign of his [Ares] approach . . . Glorious in Hyrcanian gore he himself [Ares] comes riding by . . . with bloody hand dark Bellona [Enyo] guides the team and plies them hard with her long spear."

Statius, Silvae 1. 1. 18 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"Loftily does the Bistonian [Thracian] steed bear Mars [Ares] when the fighting is done, exulting in the mighty weight, and swiftly flies by the river till he is all asteam and with his strong blowing stirs up the waves of Strymon [a Thracian River]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 29. 364 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"In hot haste he [Ares] leapt up, and awoke Phobos (Rout) and Deimos (Terror) to yoke his deadly quickrunning car. They obeyed their urgent father. Furious Demos set the crooktooth bit in the horses' mouths, and fastened their obedient necks under the yokestrap, and fitted the neckloop on each: Ares mounted the car, and Phobos took the reins and drove his father's chariot."

For MORE information on the horses of Ares see THE HIPPOI AREIOI


K9.1 ARES
CHARIOT & HORSES
K9.6 ARES
ARMOURED
S9.3 ARES
WITH SERPENT
 

SPEAR OF ARES

Homer, Iliad 5. 352 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"There to the left of the fighting she found Ares the violent, sitting, his spear leaned into the mist, and his swift horses."

Homer, Iliad 5. 592 ff :
"Ares led them [the Trojan army] with the goddess Enyo, she carrying with her the turmoil of shameless hatred while Ares made play in his hands with spear gigantic and ranged now in front of Hektor and now behind him."

Homer, Iliad 5. 699 ff :
"Ares lunged first over the yoke and the reins of his horses with the bronze spear, furious to take the life from him [the hero Diomedes]. But the goddess grey-eyed Athene in her hand catching the spear pushed it away from the car, so he missed and stabled vainly."

Homer, Iliad 15. 110 ff :
"His [Ares'] heavy hand [held] the bronze spear."

Homer, Iliad 21. 391 ff :
"Ares the shield-stabber rose up against Athene with the brazen spear in his hand . . . and stabbed against the ghastly aegis with fluttering straps, which gives way not even before the bolt of Zeus' lightning. There blood-dripping Ares made his stab with the long spear."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 191 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"And [depicted] on the shield [of Herakles] stood . . . grim Ares . . . He held a spear in his hands and was urging on the footmen: he was red with blood as if he were slaying living men."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 450 ff :
"Ares, screaming aloud, flourishing his spear like a flame, rapidly made his rush against the powerful Herakles, furious to kill him, and cast at him with the bronze spear in anger and resentment for his son who was fallen, and struck the great shield, but gray-eyed Athene, reached out of her chariot, turned aside the shock of the spearhead. The bitter sorrow closed on Ares, and drawing his sharp sword he swept in against Herakles the strong-hearted."

The Anacreontea, Fragment 28 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric B.C.) :
"Ares came in from the battlefield brandishing a strong spear."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 8. 260 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"Into the battle's heart tossing his massy spear, he [Ares] came."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 67 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"I [Ares] will take my Titan-destroying deathdealing spear."


ARMOUR OF ARES

Homer, Iliad 15. 110 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Ares] got into his shining armour . . . [but Athena] took the helmet off from his head, the shield from his shoulders, and snatched out of his heavy hand the bronze spear, and fixed it apart."

Homer, Iliad 21. 391 ff :
"Where the war belt girt him [Ares]."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 56 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Ares insatiable in battle, blazing like the light of burning fire in his armour and standing in his chariots."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 70 ff :
"All the grove and the altar of Apollon Pagasaios were lighted up by the dread god, Ares, himself and his armour, and the shining from his eyes was like fire."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 450 ff :
"Drawing his sharp sword he [Ares] swept in against Herakles the strong-hearted, but as he came in Amphitryon's son [Herakles], insatiate of the terrible battle-cry, stabbed with full force into the thigh left bare under the elaborate shield, and twisting with the spear tore a great hole in the flesh, and beat him to the ground between."

Homeric Hymn 8 to Ares (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic B.C.) :
"Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden-helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 9. 240 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"Ares chariot-borne to murderous war fares forth, and round his onrush quakes the ground, while on the God's breast clash celestial arms outflashing fire."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 12. 167 ff :
"Ares to the fray rose first, and on Athena rushed. Thereat fell each on other: clashed around their limbs the golden arms celestial as they charged."

Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 51 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"From on high he [Ares] made a din as of thunder and smote his shield with the point of his spear, and it rang with a warlike noise. And the hills of Ossa trembled and the plain of Krannon, and the windswept skirts of Pindos, and all Thessalia danced for fear: such echoing din rang from his shield . . . such in that hour was the rattle of the fair-rounded shield."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 12. 88 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"This helmet that you see with chestnut horse-hair crest, this convex shield, my [the invulnerable Kaineus] left arm's load, they’re not for my defence, they're for adornment. That’s why Mars [Ares] too wears his armour. Strip their guardian services away - I'll leave the field without a scratch."


PALACE OF ARES

Statius, Thebaid 7. 64 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Barren forest [of Thrake], the sacred haunts of Mars [Ares] . . . where on the far slopes of Haemus his savage mansion is ringed by a thousand furies. The walls are of iron structure, iron portals bear upon the threshold, the roof is carried by columns wrought of iron. The rays of Phoebus [Helios the Sun] are weakened when they meet it, the very light fears that dwelling, and its murky glare dismays the stars. Fit sentinels hold watch there: from the outer gate wild Impetus (Passion) leaps, and blind Nefas (Mischief) and Irae (Angers) flushing red and pallid Metus (Fear) [Phobos], and Insidia (Treachery) lurks with hidden sword, and Discordia (Discord) [Eris] holding a two-edged blade. Minis (Threats) innumerable make clamour in the court, sullen Virtus (Valour) stands in the midst, and Furor (Rage) exultant and armed Mors (Death) [Thanatos] with blood-stained visage are seated there; no blood but that of wars is on the altars, no fire but snatched from burning cities. All around were spoils of every land, and captured peoples adorned the temple’s high front, and fragments of iron-wrought gates and ships of war and empty chariots and faces ground by chariot-wheels, ay, almost even their groans! truly every form of violence and wounds. Himself [Mars-Ares] was everywhere to behold, but nowhere with softened looks; in such wise had Mulciber [Hephaistos] with divine skill portrayed him: not yet had the adulterer, made manifest by the sun’s bright beams, atoned his shameful union in the bed’s grasping chains [in which he was caught with Aphrodite] . . .
Lo! Earth trembles, and horned [river] Hebrus bellows and stays his torrent’s flow; then all the war-steeds that troubled the valley sped foaming o’er the frightened meads, sure sign of his approach, and the gates barred with everlasting adamant flew open. Glorious in Hyrcanian gore he himself [Mars-Ares] comes riding by; far and wide the dire bespattering changes the aspect of the fields, behind him are borne spoils and weeping throngs; forests and deep snows give him room; with bloody hand dark Bellona [Enyo] guides the team and plies them hard with her long spear." [N.B. The description of the palace of Ares on Mount Haimos in Thrake may derive from Thrakian (rather than Greek) mythology. Ares was one of only three main gods worshipped by the Thrakian tribes.]


SHRINE GUARDIANS & ANIMALS OF ARES

I) GUARDIAN DRAKONES

The sacred groves of Ares at Thebes in Boiotia (Central Greece) and Kolkhis (on the Black Sea) were both protected by guardian Drakones. The first of these was slain by Kadmos, who had to serve Ares for eight years as penalty. The second protected the Golden Fleece, and was perhaps slain (or simply put to sleep) by Jason and the Argonauts.

For MORE information on the dragons of Ares see:--
(1) DRAKON OF THEBES
(2) DRAKON OF KOLKHIS

II) BRONZE BULLS

King Aeetes pastured bronze-footed, fire-breathing bulls on the sacred field of Ares. He instructed Jason to yoke these and sow a crop of armed warriors from dragon's teeth.

Ovid, Heroides 6. 9 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Rumour brought me tidings of you [Jason] . . . tidings that the sacred bulls of Mars [Ares] had received the curving yoke; that at the scattering of the seed there sprang forth the harvest of men, who for their doom had no need of your right arm."

Ovid, Heroides 6. 31 ff :
"I began to ask of your [Jason's] fortunes. He tells me of the brazen-footed oxen of Mars [Ares], how they ploughed, of the serpent’s teeth scattered upon the ground in way of seed, of men sprung suddenly forth and bearing arms--earth-born peoples slain in combat with their fellows, filling out the fates of their lives in the space of a day."

Ovid, Heroides 12.39 ff :
"The condition is imposed [by King Aeetes] that you [Jason] press the hard necks of the fierce bulls at the unaccustomed plow. To Mars [Ares] the bulls belonged, raging with more than mere horns, for their breathing was of terrible fire; of solid bronze were their feet, wrought round with bronze their nostrils, made black, too, by the blasts of their own breath."

For MORE information on the bulls see the TAUROI KHALKEOI

III) GUARDIAN ARROW-BIRDS

The sacred island sanctuary of Ares founded by the Amazones off the coast of their land in the Black Sea was guarded by a flock of arrow-shooting birds.

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 30 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"On the island of Mars [Ares] . . . Birds which shoot their feathers out as arrows."

For MORE information on these birds see THE ORNITHES AREIOI


SPARTOI, EARTH-BORN WARRIORS OF ARES

The Spartoi (Sown-ones) were earth-born warriors sacred to the god Ares. They were born fully-grown and armed from the soil, ready for battle, when the teeth of Ares' sacred Drakones were sown in the earth.
Kadmos of Thebes sowed a batch of these warriors, of which only five survived. Another batch was sown by Jason at Kolkhis in his quest for the Golden Fleece.
The Spartoi were regarded as sons of Ares, for the Drakones were children of the god, and the warriors seeded from them.

For MORE information on these earth-born warriors see THE SPARTOI


SACRED BIRDS & ANIMALS

I) BARN OWL (Greek "aigolios"); EAGLE-OWL (Greek "buas");
VULTURE (Greek "gups"); WOODPECKER (Greek "ipne")

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 21 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Zeus loathed them [the giants Agrios and Oreios] and sent Hermes to punish them . . . But Ares, since the family of Polyphonte [mother of the giants] descended from him, snatched her sons from this fate. With the help of Hermes he changed them into birds. Polyphonte became a small owl whose voice is heard at night. She does not eat or drink and keeps her head turned down and the tips of her feet turned up. She is a portent of war and sedition for mankind. Oreios became an eagle owl, a bird that presages little good to anyone when it appears. Argios was changed into a vulture, the bird most detested by gods and men. These gods gave him an utter craving for human flesh and blood. Their female servant was changed into a woodpecker. As she was changing her shape she prayed to the gods not to become a bird evil for mankind. Hermes and Ares heard her prayer because she had by necessity done what her masters had ordered. This a bird of good omen for someone going hunting or to feasts."

II) SERPENT (Greek "drakon")

The poisonous serpent was sacred to Ares. In ancient art he was often shown holding a serpent, or with a serpent-device on his shield.

For MYTHS of Ares and the serpent see:
(1) Ares Wrath: Kadmos (Drakon of Thebes)
(2) Ares Favour: Aeetes (Drakon of Kolkhis)


Sources:

  • Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • Hesiod, Shield of Heracles - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th BC
  • Greek Lyric III The Anacreontea, Fragments - Greek Lyric BC
  • Callimachus, Hymns - Greek C3rd BC
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th AD
  • Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st BC
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Silvae - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD