Battle of the War Gods: Ares versus Athena! Understanding Ancient Greek War Deities | Ancient Origins Members Site


Battle of the War Gods: Ares versus Athena! Understanding Ancient Greek War Deities

Battle of the War Gods: Ares versus Athena! Understanding Ancient Greek War Deities

The ancient Greeks had two different gods of war — the wise goddess Athena and the bloodthirsty god Ares. The mere fact that, out of twelve Olympian gods, two deities were devoted to armed conflict indicates the important role warfare played in the social order and the fabric of daily life in ancient Greece. Between 800 BCE and 500 CE, the ancient Greek civilization developed a body of philosophical concepts and ideas which greatly influenced military leaders throughout history. Many of the current philosophies and theories of modern warfare known to us today owe their foundations to ancient Greek thought.

Family Feud Leads to War

However, despite Ares’ and Athena’s dominion over the same subject, the gods were far from a brother-sister team. In fact, in all of Greek mythology, no siblings seem to hold a worse grudge against one another than the two war deities. Ancient Greek society, in turn, did not hesitate to pit them against one another in their beliefs, their stories and their worship. What is considered by many to be a simple mythological sibling rivalry is actually a more complicated web of differences which culminated into the religious and military rivalry between the Greek cities of Sparta and Athens which resulted in the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE.

Leonidas I of Sparta.

Leonidas I of Sparta. (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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