On Veteran’s Day

VIII. TO ARES

[1] Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden-helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Savior of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear, O defense of Olympus, father of warlike Victory, ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of righteous men, sceptred King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere among the planets in their seven-fold courses through the aether wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth! Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul. Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death.

The Homeric Hymn to Ares addresses him as a warrior and praises him as a defender and giver of courage. But it also calls on Ares to give the ability for the warrior to live in peace — something that would seem antithetical to his role as God of War. But the ultimate goal of any warrior is the ability to avoid unnecessary conflicts and it is this that we need to remember when we think of Ares as the patron of our military men and women.

May we honor Ares in times of war and in times of peace because of the courage he can inspire in our hearts.

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