What is a Warrior: Reprised

So yesterday I started up that pain-in-the-ass process of defining a contentious word: what is a warrior? In just one day, it has become one of the most popular posts as far as number of comments, so instead of responding to each comment in each comment thread, I figured I’d give a more detailed, aggregated response to each of the major points raised throughout.

1) What about Police, Firefighters, EMTs, and other Public safety officials? (This was the most common question)

I’d say it depends. Personally, I feel that while many of these professions do encounter violence or danger regularly, it is the application of sanctioned violence that makes a warrior. As I stated in previous comments, it might be easy to add police under the onus of warrior, because they are instructed and authorized to use deadly force when necessary.

The issue of EMTs and firefighters is much more in shades of gray. On one hand, both face a great deal of danger and do their best to protect those under their care. On the other, they are not expected to react to violence with violence, per se. This gets grayer when you consider the position of both military firefighters and combat medics. Firefighters in the military are expected, like and soldier, to be an infantryman first with the requisite skills. Combat medics may carry a weapon to defend themselves, but as technical non-combatants, they may never fire offensively, or they revoke their non-com status; the same goes for chaplains in the field.

I would have to say that over-all, police may be warriors in the more literal sense, but firefighters and EMTs are not. However, just because they aren’t warriors  does not mean they aren’t heroes worthy of public admiration and respect. It would also be my theological opinion that Ares is still a patron to these professions as a protector and giver of strength.

2) Who are the modern-day Amazons? (super question by Lady Imbrium)

I’m not sure I’m equipped to begin answering that question. Surely there are exceptional female warriors out there who might begin to fill those shoes, but as a whole cohesive group, I can’t really say. I do know both North Korea presently and Libya in the past have elite, female-only units meant as bodyguards and/or assassins. Certainly the Amazons weren’t the only women who benefited from Ares’ patronage, and a festival was celebrated in the Peloponnese which allowed only women to participate, because the women  gained victory in battle after the men had failed.

3) What about those people who have tried and failed to become warriors? (probably the hardest question, asked by Wynn Dark)

That’s a tough question for me to answer, and even tougher to answer objectively. I’d guess I’d have to ask how that person failed. Some folks are good to go until they get the results of their physical back and discover they have some sort of disqualifying medical condition. Others, for the life of them, have such a hard time with the entrance exams they don’t even qualify for infantry. Others, while they do get in, get hurt or cannot psychologically cope with the stresses of regimented life. Not everyone can do it, and even the folks that can make it can’t do it forever. This kind of failure happens. On the other hand, people who do drugs, assault others, etc. during the course of duty are the failures I personally can’t deal with.

As to how Ares might deal with them, I cannot fathom. As a polytheist, I am personally certain that a multitude of gods act upon their own agendas, and in doing so may affect our lives for better or worse. It is possible that a disqualification, medically or otherwise, is Ares or another god saying, “No, this life isn’t for you.” Fate is always a factor, and even the gods must obey fate. Not being a warrior is fine. We need warriors as a society in order to function, but we also need engineers, teachers, garbage men, fast food workers, janitors, and business owners. Just because you can’t fit into one role doesn’t mean you can’t find (or even make) a different one. Ares isn’t just a warrior. He’s also a fantastic dad, an oracle-giver, and even in some cults a farmer.


That’s all I have so far. Maybe as more comments come in I can update the discussion. Hail Ares!

3 comments on “What is a Warrior: Reprised

  1. ladyimbrium says:

    Well done and much appreciated. At the moment I’m unable to come up with further thoughts to tease out but rest assured, I’ll think of something 😉

  2. Well thought out responses. I can add something to the idea of those who fail to be a warrior. In our tradition, while every male is required to undergo training in the palestra, not all of them are warriors at heart. The ability to fight does not make one a warrior. Part of our spiritual path is to determine our destiny and just as the sun never tries to be the moon, but instead works in harmony to create the universe as we know it, so should each of us accept that not everyone is a warrior. However, each of us should honor Ares so that we can be fighters when we need to be. In the same vein, not everyone can be a philosopher, a lover, or a millionaire. Each of us must play with the toys the gods give us, so to speak.

  3. […] Also, be sure to read his follow-up. […]

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