7. mythological tour of the solar system 4: mars/ares

mars copy

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/

img_6482We skip over planet earth (for now) and head to our fourth stop in our tour of the solar system: Mars. The Red Planet,, named for the Roman god of war, has intrigued humans for millennia. Today we learn about the Greek god of war, Ares, from his appearances in the Homeric Hymn to Ares, Odyssey 8.266-366 and Iliad 5.418-425, 880-969.

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Homeric Hymn to Ares

Ares, exceedingly mighty, rider of chariots, golden-helmeted,
strong-spirited, shield-carrier, guardian of cities, armed in bronze,
strong-handed, untiring spear-bearer, defender of Olympus,
father of Victory, successful in war, ally of Themis,
a ruler for enemies, leader of truly just men,
staff-bearer of men’s prowess, you who win your fire-bright sphere
among the planets with their seven paths in the sky, where your fiery
colts ever keep you above the third orbit.
Hear me, defender of mortals, giver of flourishing youth,
shining down a gentle light form above on my life
and my strength in war, so that I may be able
to ward off bitter cowardice from the my head,
and to bend the deceptive impulse of my soul with my wits
and to restrain the sharp forty of my heart which provokes me
to enter the icy-cold din of battle. But you, blessed one,
grant me courage to stay within the carefree bounds of peace
while escaping the conflict of enemies and violent death.

(Trans. Susan Shelmerdine)


Ancient Sources

Homeric Hymn to Ares

Homer Odyssey 8.266-366

Homer Iliad 5. 418-425, 880-969

Ovid Metamorphoses 4.228

Selected Sources

Homer. Iliad. Trans. Anthony Verity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Homer. Odyssey. Translated Richmond Lattimore. New York: Perennial Classics, 1967.

Homeric Hymns. Trans. Susan Shelmerdine. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 1995. Print.

McDonald, Bob. “Mars: from God of War to habitable planet.” Quirks and Quarks. Blog. 27 May 2016 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mars-god-war-earth-1.3602986)

Nasa.gov “Mars: The Red Planet” (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/mars )

Nasa.gov “Mars Today: Robotic Exploration” (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/main/index.html)

Nasa.gov “Your Weight in Space” (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/kids/index.cfm?Filename=puzzles)


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This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.