Monday, December 7, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Ares

Today, I received a beautiful new statue of Ares for my family's shrine that I very much love and treasure as I love and treasure Ares, and I think that He is one of the most misunderstood Gods of the Greek pantheon. He appears nowhere on the calendar of Attica, at least none that I have seen. Even Greeks themselves seem to have been wary of Him, probably because of the bloodletting and destruction that war brought, especially in those days when you had to use common weapons and kill someone face to face. War was a dread and a horrific sight. He still, though, occupies a throne on Olympos, which shows that the Greek Gods were not merely put into their places by the Greek mind. Ares was an Olympian by fact, regardless of how much the Greeks liked Him. However, I do think He's largely looked at in the wrong way, which is why I want to discuss Him in this next part of my series on learning from the Greek Gods.

Ares is the God of War and that's about it. He encompasses the physical fighting and strife between armies and mortals and all that is associated with it. But when we think about all that war itself encompasses, and how it has a place in our lives as human beings from time to time, in many forms, we can understand the great importance of Ares and how He plays an influential and decisive role in the universe and the lives of those within. Things are not always completely cut and dry. Sometimes, something is not inherently good or bad. There are times when war can be a good thing. Our own nation, where we are free to worship the Gods free of persecution, and live our lives as Hellenists, was created by war. We had to fight off the British before we could build the United States, and over the years, other enemies have tried to take our freedom as well. We have often waged war to bring about a greater good, which is a free and safe people. War, therefore, can bring good things when war is necessary. We even fight among ourselves as individuals, when we have to wage a battle against someone else to protect ourselves, family or properties. We may desire peace, but that doesn't mean that others will. War is not something we invented. It is part of the human structure of life because it is sometimes necessary for self-preservation.

There are also what I call "metaphorical wars" that we, as humans, wage all the time. These are not fought physically, but are carried out through verbal and other non-physically combative means. For example, sometimes we debate serious issues with other people that we are passionate about, and we feel the need to win that argument for a good, and like Ares, we can sometimes become furious and wrathful in these arguments. We are verbally warring against someone when we do that. And that could encompass Athene as well, but Ares does not have to be excluded. Fighting for what we believe can take on many forms of war, not just physical assaults. If there ever comes a time when mankind no longer wages physical war, Ares will remain important and influential for these reasons.

And lastly, when we are waging our necessary and good wars, we must also remember the part of war that Ares encompasses. He destroys the enemy. He does not show mercy and He does not play around. He comes to annihilate the enemy and claim the victory completely. When we need to save our nation, or protect ourselves and families in one form or another, we should be prepared to go the length necessary that the law will allow to ensure our freedom, safety and preservation. Sometimes, the enemy does not deserve mercy, and it is necessary to make sure they can't make good on future aggression. From Ares, we learn the value of fighting with all of our might for what is dear and valuable, and accepting nothing but the surrender of the enemy of those good things.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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