Ares is the quintessential male, brooding, powerful, and virile. Aphrodite is the quintessential female, tempestuous, elegant, and sexually resplendent. Two peas in a very passionate pod, the relationship between Ares and Aphrodite speaks directly to the most primal part of the human psyche, piercing even the most stone-like hearts.
The story of Ares and his consort Aphrodite is a passionate one. The two divine entities see in each other their own completion. THough Aphrodite is married to Hephaestos, the two often steal away to make love, and it is said in some fragments of literature that the marriage was officially dissolved, leaving Ares and Aphrodite to produce a multitude of divine offspring, including Fear, Din, and Harmony among others.
The concepts of love and war may seem at first diametrically opposed, thus making the relationship between Ares and Aphrodite seem odd, but I assure you, they are two intimately intertwined forces.
I ask you, what was it that launched 1,000 ships and the greatest war in Greek myth? It was love. Yes, one can argue that the breach of hospitality on the part of the Trojan Paris towards his Spartan host was the cause of the conflict, but why did Paris breach that essential trust in the first place? Love can be very dangerous. Love, and its counterpart, lust, can have devastating effects on people, tearing apart families and friends, and in the case of the Iliad, starting wars.
Other, real-life examples of love and war have deeply impacted the human race in both the medieval and modern periods. Genghis Khan spread like a plague over the continents of Asia and Europe, destroying kings and commoners alike. Genghis left two lasting legacies in the areas he conquered: literal plague, and a bloodline. The Khan took so many brides (and raped so many women) that some anthropologists suggest one half of a percent (0.5%) of all people on earth can trace their heritage back to Genghis ( Zerjal et al.). Again, following World War II, which caused upwards of 200, 000, 000 casualties worldwide, many countries experienced a “baby boom”, as returning soldiers were encouraged to settle down and start families. This surge in population called for increased economic participation, putting an end to the Depression era and kick-starting a period of prosperity for many.
Speaking of a baby boom, Ares and Aphrodite also speak to another, deeper part of the psyche– pure animal attraction. Ares is the hunk, the bad boy every woman wants. He doesn’t play by the rules. He sweeps you of your feet, ravages you, and still leaves you wanting more. Now Aphrodite, she’s something else. Refined but raw, sensual and seductive yet elegant at the same time. She’s the kind of gal who will play coy even though she knows exactly what you want, and doesn’t hide that she wants it, too. This primal urge drives our whole species. It’s no surprise that today’s pornography industry, where actors are usually sculpted to physical perfection, much as Aphrodite and Ares are depicted, is estimated to value between $2 and $4 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”.
As a final thought, I want you to meditate on the meaning of Ares’ and Aphrodite’s relationship, and more specifically, a particular child born of that relationship. Love and War come together to create Harmony (Harmonia), and that is a true Mystery.