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War and the warrior : functions of Ares in literature and cult

This dissertation presents a new interpretative synthesis of the sources relating to the cults, identities, and functions of the god Ares, focusing on the Archaic and Classic periods. An apparent dichotomy is identified: in many respects, the evidence suggests that Ares must have been a very important god throughout much of the Greek world throughout the Archaic and Classic periods (and beyond), but in other respects the evidence suggests that he was not. I argue that this dichotomy does not derive from changes in the popularity, relevance, or nature of the god, as has been proposed. Instead, I argue that the elements of Ares’ cults and representations which suggest that Ares was unpopular or unimportant derive from those which made him important and continually relevant. I argue that because Ares was identified with war, attitudes towards the god directly reflect Greek attitudes towards war. War’s importance as an element of Greek life, and the god’s power as a causal force with it, led to deep respect for Ares, reflected by widespread cult, and a place among the great Olympians. But the wild, destructive, and unpredictable nature of war, which Ares represented, meant that he was not a regular recipient of large-scale celebratory cult. Instead, war itself was conceived of as a form of cult for Ares, which he took pleasure in, despite the fact that it was not initiated on his behalf. Ares was associated with all aspects of war, and represented as a warrior archetype. I argue that the cluster of ideas and associations that Ares represented was a powerful tool which many Greek poets and artists were attracted to use in order to articulate and explore a series of interconnected ideas relating to war, violence, the nature of the warrior, and the role of the warrior within society.
Date January 2014
CreatorsMillington, A. T.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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