Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily
3.7 Ares - Mars

Son of Zeus and Hera, he was considered a god of war and identified with the Roman Mars. He is often represented wearing breastplate, helmet and armed with shield, spear and sword. Of enormous stature, Ares stands out for his violent and bloodthirsty character; he is often seen on a chariot, accompanied by some demons who serve him as squires: Deimo (fear) and Fobo (terror), who are his children, and Eris (discord).

Ares is often found in contrast with Athena, also goddess of war but who, unlike the god's bloodthirsty brutality, instead embodies heroism and tactical intelligence; it is no coincidence that it is Athena who, on more than one occasion, manages to beat Ares.

The cult of Ares probably originated in Thrace from where it spread to the rest of Greece; however, it did not become very popular, probably opposed by the female cult of Athena.


The testimonies of the cult of Ares in Sicily confirm that it was not very widespread. It is an exception Messina where the cult was imported by Mamertine mercenaries, who boasted their ancestry from Mars who in their language, Osco-Umbrian, called Mamerte.


Ignazio Caloggero


Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily by Ignazio Caloggero

Ares - Mars

Ares - Mars 

Sandro Botticelli Venus and Mars (c. 1482-1483) National Gallery, London

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