We everlasting gods . . . Ah what chilling blows
we suffer—thanks to our own conflicting wills—
whenever we show these mortal men some kindness.
Ares voices this lament after being wounded by Diomedes in Book
Divine intervention in
Ares’ whining does not make him unique among the gods. Homer’s immortals expect to govern according to their wills, which are in turn governed by self-interest. Correspondingly, they complain when they do not get their way. Ares’ melodramatic and self-pitying lament, which is greeted with scorn by Zeus a few lines later, probably implies some criticism of the gods by Homer. Ares’ appearance here as a kind of spoiled child provides just one example of Homer’s portrayal of the gods as temperamental, sulky, vengeful, and petty—a portrayal that may seek to describe and explain the inequities and absurdities in life on earth.
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