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Clement of Alexandria: Gods of war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Clement of Alexandria: Let us gird ourselves with the armour of peace

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Clement of Alexandria
From Exhortations to the Greeks
Translated by G.W. Butterworth

There is for example Ares, who is honoured, so far as that is possible, in the poets –

Ares, thou plague of men, bloodguilty one, stormer of cities;

this fickle and implacable god…

Come then, let us add this, that your gods are inhuman and man-hating daemons, who not only exult over the insanity of men, but go so far as to enjoy human slaughter. They provide for themselves sources of pleasure, at one time in the armed contests in the of the stadium, at another in the innumerable rivalries of war, in order to secure every possible opportunity of glutting themselves to the full with human blood. Before now, too, they have fallen like plagues on whole cities and nations, and have demanded drink-offerings of a savage character…

[W]arlike Ares is so called from arsis and anairesis, abolition and destruction; which is the chief reason, I think, why many tribes simply fix their sword in the ground and then offer sacrifice to it as if to Ares.

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