3 brutal gods of war from cultures around the world

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Hachiman, Kamakura period, 1326, Tokyo National Museum (Lent by Akana Hachimangū), Important Cultural Property.

The fundamental beliefs of ancient cultures from around the world contain tales of dauntlessness and gallantry. These tales have been passed down to generations to keep the stories of the gods and goddesses alive. While it is true that most gods were known for certain roles, they often performed a variety of interconnected duties. In addition to being gods of war, they might have been associated with strategy, power, wisdom and protection.

Stories narrate that various gods were involved in battles of supremacy, and though immortal, they were still susceptible to injury and defeat. Mythical accounts reveal how the defeated gods and goddesses would be imprisoned or kicked out from the gods’ province. Despite their power and immortality, defeated gods were seen as powerless and often banished from the divine realm.


Ares is a god of war in Greek mythology and was often referred to as the spirit of war. He was not as popular as the Roman god of war, Mars, and his worship was not extensive. Ares represented distasteful characteristics such as slaughter and brutality. During combat, he was always accompanied by his sister Eris and two sons. Other gods, including his parents, did not like him even though he was an Olympian deity. The only gods who associated themselves with him were Enyalius and Enyo, who had less power than Ares.

The worship of Ares had many interesting local features that were devoid of moral, theological, and social associations. In early times, prisoners of war were sacrificed to him and other unusual sacrificial beings like dogs. During his worship at Geronthrae, women were forbidden from entering the sacred grove, while in Tegea, extraordinary women’s sacrifices were allowed.

Roman copy of a Greek statue of Ares from 320 BCE. (Wikipedia)


Montu, otherwise known as Mentu or Monthu, was an ancient Egyptian god worshipped by the 4th Upper Egyptian province. His sacrificial animals included bulls and falcons and were presented as a man in a falcon’s head. It is believed that Montu also symbolized the Kingship for Upper Egypt and his counterpart Atum the Lower Egypt. He was initially viewed as an extension or part of the sun god, and at times, he was associated with Hor.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, he represented the scorching effect of the sun. From this characteristic, he was named the god of war and a mighty warrior. Egyptians believed that he fought against enemies of the cosmic order and inspired other warriors amongst his people.

A peculiar representation of the god Khonsu as Montu – in the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. (Wikipedia)


One of the most famous gods among the Japanese was Hachiman, the patron god of the Minamoto clan and all warriors. Hachiman was frequently referred to as the god of war and the adoration of the 15th Japanese emperor. He is rarely worshiped alone as most of the shrines dedicated to him are also used to worship two other gods; Jingo, his mother, and the goddess Hime-gami. The most ancient shrine used in his worship was built in 725 A.D and is among the few single shrines. Hachiman is vastly popular all over Japan, explaining why half of the Shinto shrines are dedicated to him. Additionally, Hachiman was the first Japanese god to be entitled Daibosatsu, meaning a great Buddha to be. He signifies the blending and working together of foreign and indigenous elements.

Hachiman is also worshipped as the divine protector of the Japanese, Japan and the Imperial house. As a result, he is still actively worshipped today in most parts of Japan. He is considered among the most ancient, most trusted and most loved Emperors of Japan (Ojin).