Fierce and Untamed — The Orphic Hymn to Ares

Magnanimous, unconquer’d, boistrous Mars [Ares],
 in darts rejoicing, and in bloody wars

Fierce and untam’d, whose mighty pow’r can make
 the strongest walls from their foundations shake:

Mortal destroying king, defil’d with gore,
 pleas’d with war’s dreadful and tumultuous roar:

Thee, human blood, and swords, and spears delight,
 and the dire ruin of mad savage fight.

Stay, furious contests, and avenging strife,
 whose works with woe, embitter human life; 

To lovely Venus [Kypris], and to Bacchus [Lyaios] yield,
 to Ceres [Deo] give the weapons of the field;

Encourage peace, to gentle works inclin’d,
 and give abundance, with benignant mind. 

Unlike his sister Athena, Ares is described entirely in terms of war. He is described as being covered with blood and delighting in “the dire ruin of mad savage fight”. This makes the second half of this hymn all the more telling in that he is asked to STOP conflicts and encourage peace.

As Ares is indeed the god of battles, it is to him that we need to petition to end them in the view of the original authors of the hymn. It is interesting that he yields to Aphrodite, Dionysus and Demeter though. This indicates to me that during specific periods, war was not allowed in order to plant and harvest the things necessary for survival.

These are all things that we need to ponder in this world where there is never truly peace, especially when there is the threat of new fields of battle for Ares to roam.

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