Edit – 31/08/2011: I will like to add that I am not happy with this post after reflecting upon what I wrote. Some things I wrote are quite harsh and I did overemphasise Ares’ masculinity and warlike characteristics. I should have also emphasised the importance of one’s strength of character rather than seem to focus on the physical. I also shouldn’t have associated weakness, both physical and mental, with the effeminate, this was totally harsh on my behalf and I now realise I was wrong to do so. I also feel like this post was structured badly; blame my bad English and tiredness for this utter mess of a post.
Kullervo touched on some things about why Ares is unpopular here, go read that first if you haven’t read it already. He brought up very good points that I whole heartedly agree with but I felt like making a post as a reply and to share my thoughts on why Ares is unpopular.
War is brutal; I don’t think anyone will say otherwise. War is what has advanced mankind, civilisation itself is built up on the blood and bones of soldiers; a fact which many may conveniently ignore. I am not going to sugarcoat Ares by saying that he is just the god of mental struggles, like some people seem to do. No, he is also the god of physical struggles, which inevitably leads to the shedding of blood and possibly death.
Ares was with us when we were uncivilised, when we fought against other tribes and wild animals for survival. Ares is still with us today, even though many may deride him for his nature. Ares is not only a god of war, he is also a god of masculinity, he is a ‘man’s man’ god. Masculinity too, as Kullervo said in his entry, is also something that is unpopular in modern western civilisation.
Masculinity in the modern western world is something that isn’t popular, even derided. No, men are meant to be wimpy metrosexuals if they want to be considered cultured. To be a man is to have guts and to be ready to fight if anything you hold dear is in danger. An effeminate metrosexual is normally a doormat, the antithesis of what a real man is meant to be.
Now, I’m all for women being treated fairly and not like property, but I think it’s obvious that feminism killed chivalry. If a man offers to pay for dinner at a date, he is patronising; if he holds a door open for a woman, he is a chauvinistic pig. Feminism, while having a good cause at heart, has turned everything on its head. Ares can teach men how to be real men, but still teach them how to respect women. However, being a real man isn’t easy, it is hard. But since there is no pressure in being a real man anymore, men don’t have to strive to be a real man unless they have been raised correctly.
Ares is also a god who bestows courage. As someone who suffers from a debilitating anxiety disorder, Ares’ influence is like an anchor when it comes to dealing with it. Since focusing on him and his influence in the world, things have been easier to deal with. But the courage he bestows is also observable in war, even if you aren’t on the frontlines. Civilian life in Britain during World War II is a very good example of this. George VI had to battle with his anxieties about speaking in public, combat his stutter and his shyness to address his people in those dark times.
When the Blitz started, George VI and the Royal Family stayed in Britain, suffering the hardships of their people and working with them. George VI was a reluctant king, but a he was a true man and a good king; he was willing to live up to his duty to serve as monarch after his brother abdicated and in all honestly, I’m glad George VI was King during those times of trouble. Ares was not only with George VI; he was with the firefigthers, the Home Guard, the RAF and the ordinary people who endured bombing after bombing after bombing.
Athene was with Britain too, as were other gods, but I’ll just mention Athene for now. I have noticed people favour Athene over Ares, even to the point of not giving his Ares his due because ‘Athene can do it better’ in matters of warfare. Both gods are important in war and both gods tell you that you sometimes need to fight. However Athene seems to be looked upon more often as a goddess of wisdom and crafts, while Ares is just the bloody god of war.
So the question is, why have many people grown to strongly condemn war? Some may not even acknowledge that war is something that will always happen and may even be necessary. I personally think it’s because people are burnt out from the two World Wars. Because of this Fascism and Imperialism ended up becoming despised by many people, because they are seen as the root causes of these two terrible wars. Both Fascism and Imperialism are militaristic and masculine, so now militarism and masculinity has become undesirable.
I think a balance needs to be struck. Peace is desirable, but we also need to be realistic and realise that war may be necessary. War has shaped us to be what we are today and continues to define us; to deny this is to ignore a large part of what makes us human. There also needs to be a balance between masculinity and femininity.
Ares is certainly a god who is vastly misunderstood. Some people may believe that being a worshipper Ares means that you worship war. Worshipping Ares doesn’t mean you are worshipping war; you are acknowledging that war and conflict is a part of the human condition. Acknowledging Ares for what he is as a whole is a sign of maturity. Trying to sugarcoat Ares so he is just a god of mental conflict and spiritual warriors is to misunderstand the god for what he is.
We must never forget that he is the Lord of War, real physical war. He enjoys fighting, he is passionate, he makes humanity and civilisations strong. He can also be prayed to for peace, courage and the restraint of our passions and anger. I for one believe we need him more than ever before we decay further into a state of weakness.
Sure, you can ignore him all you like now; but I’m sure you would pray your heart out to him and Athene if you had an invader at your doorstep.