The doorbell rang, and since no one else moved to get it, I turned and pulled the door open. A man wearing a black leather jacket stood on the porch.
Not just any man. Tall. Dark. Handsome. And a god. Nice. I stood speechless, captivated by his fiery eyes. He seemed equally stunned and let out a low whistle.
“Got to say,” he murmured in a voice almost too low to hear. “I’m liking the newer models.”
“And just who the hell are you?”
He shot me a rakish grin. “Ares.”
God of war. Bloodshed, screams, battle cries. People dying by the thousands. A wooden horse. Fire. Blackened bodies. Sick and wounded soldiers with melting faces. The images came too fast. Too overwhelming. I tore my gaze away from him and stepped back, stumbling in my haste. He stepped forward and grabbed my arm, steadying me.
“That was stupid of me, I’m sorry.” He sounded like he meant it. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met a new deity. I should have let you guess.”
“Everything all right here?” Adonis’ voice came from somewhere over my left shoulder.
“And if it wasn’t? What would you do about it, half breed?” When Adonis didn’t reply, Ares smirked. “Yeah, I thought so.”
He moved past me and stalked into the room. Everyone fell silent. I stood, staring at the open door, too stunned to turn and investigate the silence behind me. All those dying people . . .
Adonis moved between me and the door, breaking my gaze. He studied my face. “Hey, what happened?”
Behind me, Ares and Athena started arguing. I couldn’t focus on the words. I just kept seeing the bodies, the blood, and the death.
I shook my head to clear it. What was I doing standing here in shock over the death of a few . . . million . . . humans? Humans died, it happened. War was great for gods. There’s no beating wartime worship. Fear and desperation gave it a potency that was hard to replicate in the day to day goings on of the typical human life.
But their faces . . .
“Aphrodite?” Adonis touched my shoulder. “Are you okay?”
I pulled away from him, temper flaring. “What do you care?”
Spinning on my heel, I stalked off. Stupid humans and their stupid wars and their stupid lies and fake concern. And stupid me, for giving a damn about any of them.
I’m moving on from the mythology I researched for the Persephone trilogy for just a bit because I’ve been doing a ton of research for the next trilogy and I’m just so excited about everything I’m learning that I can’t wait to share it.
So in my writing, Ares just made his first appearance in Aphrodite’s trilogy and I got stuck. I had a firm grip on him when I wrote his character in the third Persephone book, but Aphrodite’s books are full of cocky, arrogant, pretty boys with hearts of gold, and I needed something to keep Ares from blending in.
So I re-read the scenes with him in Iron Queen, and looked over all my research to see if I could find his character again. At some point, I really need to do a short story about the road trip Aphrodite, Ares, and Hephaestus went on at the end of book three.
Anyway, when it comes to mythology, there is surprisingly little on Ares. He’s mentioned in a ton of myths, but he doesn’t star in many. He’s just always there, on the periphery, throwing a temper tantrum.
Ares is one of the few children born to Zeus AND Hera. Well, actually Ovid said he was conceived when Hera touched a flower, but he’s largely ignored on that point. He’s the god of war, but he’s not the ONLY god of War. His sister, Athena is a goddess of war, but she’s more about wisdom and battle strategy. His other sister, Eris invokes war, calls it into being, and Zeus was actually a god of war to the extent that he directed it’s course. Ares wasn’t THE god of war, he was the god of the love of war. The brutality of battle, the primal rage that fuels the fire. He’s never cared who was fighting who, and rarely took sides. He’d go back and forth for fun.
He loves the fight.
But when it comes to actually fighting, he kind of sucks. There’s very few myths that actually feature him winning. During the Gigantomachy, Ares was imprisoned in an bronze jar for thirteen months by the giants Otis and Ephialtes. Hermes found out and told Artemis who pulled off the earliest version of the “hey boys, look at me,” trick, and distracted the giants by offering herself to one of the brothers. The other got jealous, and the two fought and killed each other while Artemis helped Ares escape.
He fought with Athena, a lot. And lost. A lot. She wounded him with a spear during the Trojan War, then threw a boulder at him, then struck him with a sword later just for kicks.
Zeus hated him, but in my book that’s a badge of honor. Zeus seriously insulted him in the Iliad, saying:
“Then looking at him darkly Zeus who gathers the clouds spoke to him:
‘Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar.
To me you are the most hateful of all gods who hold Olympos.
Forever quarrelling is dear to your heart, wars and battles.”
Ares slept around, a lot, but there’s no accounts (I can find) that he was violent about it. His Roman equivalent possibly raped Rhea Silvus as she slept, impregnating her with the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. But according to Livy she was raped by an unknown man, but “declared Mars to be the father of her illegitimate offspring, either because she really imagined it to be the case, or because it was less discreditable to have committed such an offense with a god.” The reason I’m inclined to agree with Livy, is because it is so out of character for Ares to rape. He killed rapists. When one of Poseidon’s sons attempted to rape one of Ares’ daughters, Ares killed him. Violently.
He loved Aphrodite, and by all accounts, actually loved her, not just…well, you know. He and Aphrodite get a bad rep for their affair, but here’s the thing. Ares and Aphrodite were already an item when Aphrodite was given to Hephaestus as a prize/blackmail reward. But more on that later. Once, while Ares and Aphrodite were having sex in one of Hephaestus’ temples, they were spotted by the sun god, Helios and ratted them out. Hephaestus trapped the two in a net, and the two naked gods were put on display for the rest of the gods to see. The two were super embarrassed, and Ares’ son who was supposed to be playing look-out got turned into a rooster. Cause you know, roosters always announce the sun’s arrival. Haha.
He’s been a very fun character to write.