Sibling Rivalry: Ares Versus Athena

Ares was the god of war and his half-sister Athena was the goddess of war. How could two deities enjoy dominion over the same realm? The answer lies in the different aspects of war that appealed to each. Ares loved the bloodshed and destruction that war brought. Although Athena was a skilled fighter, she preferred peace; she stood for justice and the ideals for which battles were fought. Athena enjoyed the intellectual side of war, the strategy and planning, whereas Ares preferred the chaos and physical exertion of an actual battle. Because of their different approaches to war, these two deities often found themselves in conflict.

One example of their animosity appears in accounts of the Trojan War. Ares joined the Trojan forces, while Athena fought with the Greeks. During a battle, Ares was fighting beside Hector (the best Trojan warrior) when he came face to face with Diomedes (not his son but the king of Aetolia). This Diomedes was held in high regard by the Greeks as a magnificent warrior.

Ares and Diomedes met in combat. Their fight caught Athena's attention. Athena used Hades' helmet of invisibility to intervene and set Ares' spear off-course. This allowed Diomedes to strike, and his blow wounded Ares severely. The injury forced Ares to leave the battlefield and return to Mount Olympus, where Zeus healed him.

At another point in the war, Ares attacked Athena with his spear. But the spear hit Athena's protective, magical aegis. The spear didn't hurt Athena, but it did make her angry. She picked up a boulder and hurled it at Ares. Stunned by the blow, Ares collapsed. Aphrodite saw him fall and tried to help him escape. But Athena, still angry, attacked Aphrodite and struck her the old-fashioned way — using her bare fist.

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