Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10593/4262
Title: Pantes theoi, Polemos and Ares on the Battlefield. The Greek Concept of the War Deity
Authors: Kostuch, Lucyna
Keywords: Greeks
Religion
Pantes theoi
War
Polemos
Ares
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: 0302-7384
Citation: Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2011, nr numery XXI/1, s. 41-48
Abstract: The Hellenes created a concept of potential military engagement by all the gods. In martial contexts, Greek authors often included the concepts of “all the gods” (pantes theoi), “the gods” (theoi), “god” (theos), divine being (daimonion) and holy power (hieros), which signify interference by unidentified divine forces. The relationship between war and gods may thus be defined ex definitione. The question arises as to the basis of this way of thinking. It seems that the answer should be sought in the basic definition of war – polemos. War is only occasionally personified. The answer to the question of why Polemos never became a clearly defined divine figure and mythological hero can be found in Homer. In the Iliad many deities, although not all, have military might (polemos) at their disposal and participate in directing martial activities. It is for this very reason that this force never became an independent one – war arises as a result of what can be termed a divine “chain reaction”. The existence of war is thus dependent on the gods who make it active as the result of a stimulus. It is significant that Ares, just like Polemos, is not fully autonomous. Other deities also carry out the “work of Ares”.
Description: The idea of dividing domains or honours (timai) in the world of the divine is of Greek provenance and dates back to Homer’s time. The Iliad contains the statement that matters of war are the concern of Ares and Athena. The concept of a divine division of spheres of influence must have been very popular in Plutarch’s and Lucian’s day, since they cite the view that each of the gods has his own field of action. At the same time the source materials, starting from Homer himself, argue that the concept of war as the domain of Ares and Athena remains merely an antique declarative form, and that all of the gods are engaged in military activities. If a list were created of divine beings participating at least once in a war or battle, or present in military ideology, it would be extremely long and would not lack even nymphs and muses. In martial contexts, Greek authors often included the concepts of “all the gods” (pantes theoi), “the gods” (theoi), “god” (theos), divine being (daimonion) and holy power (hieros), which signify interference by unidentified divine forces. The Hellenes believed also that local gods and heroes, connected with a particular territory, took part in battles. They created a concept of potential military engagement by all the gods. The relationship between war and gods may thus be defined ex definitione. The question arises as to the basis of this way of thinking. It seems that the answer should be sought in the basic definition of war – polemos. War is only occasionally personified. The answer to the question of why Polemos never became a clearly defined divine figure and mythological hero can be found in Homer. In the Iliad many deities, although not all, have military might (polemos) at their disposal and participate in directing martial activities. It is for this very reason that this force never became an independent one – war arises as a result of what can be termed a divine “chain reaction”. The existence of war is thus dependent on the gods who make it active as the result of a stimulus. It is significant that Ares, just like Polemos, is not fully autonomous. Other deities also carry out the “work of Ares”.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10593/4262
ISBN: 978-83-7654-160-0
Appears in Collections:Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2011, nr XXI/1

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