(‘Pantes theoi’, Polemos and Ares on the Battlefield. The Greek Concept of the War Deity
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The Hellenes created a concept of potential military engagement by all gods. In martial contexts, Greek authors often included the concepts of “all-the-gods” (pantes 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”.
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