War God

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Pomena loves the orchard. And Liber loves the vine. And Pales loves the straw built shed warm with the breath of kine; And Venus loves the whispers of plighted youth and maid, in April's ivory moonlight. Beneath the chessnut shade.

But thy father loves the clashing of broadsword and of shield: He loves to drink the steam that reeks from the fresh battlefield: He smiles a smile more dreadful Than his own dreadful frown, When he sees the thick black cloud of smoke Go up from the conquered town.
—Sir Thomas Macaulay Lays of Ancient Rome

If you were looking for the book series or the video game, see The War Gods and God of War respectively.

This character is regarded as a deity or manifestation of war (or battle, murder, conflict, etc.). They're most likely a member of the setting's ruling pantheon, but could be any character (including a mortal) who is regarded by other characters as a god(dess) of war. The War God in question often exemplifies either the physical or strategic aspects of war, although they can embody both.

They're often the only god that Blood Knights would bother to worship, if they don't want to fight it themselves.

There's also a tendency in various works of fiction to pair a War God and Love Goddess together in something of an Opposites Attract manner, either as unlikely friends or romantic partners. Considering Ares and Aphrodite were lovers, this makes this aspect Older Than Feudalism. Also, some of these figures (usually goddesses) were gods of both fertility/love and war.

Examples of War God include:


Mythology and Religion[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Aztec Mythology: Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca.
  • Norse Mythology: Thor, Odin, Tyr, Freya and you can make a case for several of the others.
  • Greek Mythology: Ares, Athena, Enyo, and again, you can make a case for several others.
    • Mars, Minerva, Bellona, and possibly the others' alternative names in their Roman versions.
      • Athena is the goddess of Strategy, because she is the goddess of science and crafts. Ares is the god of fury and bloodshed. So they sort of divide up aspects of war.
        • Not to mention that many versions of Ares have him handicapped in someway; often with a wounded leg. This symbolized the danger of an imbalanced warrior.
      • Mars is often seen as a a direct Roman counterpart to the Greek Ares, but in truth he was closer to what Athena was; Mars was a tactical warrior, a symbol of masculine power, as well as an agricultural god in the beginning. Ares, by contrast, was a bloodthirsty bully and much more brutal than Mars.
  • Hindu Mythology: Indra and Kartikkeya are almost always this. Shiva, Durga; Krishna on occasion.
    • Kali, who is in charge of death, naturally has an interest in war. The Gurkhas' Battle Cry means "Blood for Kali, the Gurkhas are coming." However the notch where the blade meets the hilt of a Kukri is a dedication to Shiva.
  • Then there's War of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse fame in biblical mythology, and in his many adaptions.
  • Here's a list of war god/dessess for ya: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/godsmyth/a/102110-War-Gods-And-Goddesses.htm.
  • In The Bible one of the titles of God is Lord of Hosts.
  • In Egyptian Mythology there was Neith, Sekhmet, Set, Horus, and a slew of lesser-known gods associated with war, due to different gods being worshiped from town to town.
  • Armenian mythology had Vahagn, a dragon-slaying god, and Aray, or "Ara the Handsome".
  • In Celtic Mythology there was Lugh, the Morrighan, and quite a slew of others.
  • The Babylonian Ishtar was a goddess of love and war. Cynics might argue that those aren't all that inappropriate together, though; and as would Shakespeare and a number of others say, "All's fair in love and war."
  • Japanese Mythology, has Hachiman and Bishamon. The first is somewhat like the Roman Mars being a patron of warriors, protector of Japan and a god of agriculture and fishermen. The second was a Buddhist deity culturally changed to being more of a war god.
  • Chinese Mythology has Guan Yu, hero of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and deified mortal. Aside from being a god of war and protector of China he is also the patron of bean curd.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A more benevolent example would be Guan Yu from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, who was often referred to as 'The God of War' due to his nigh-inhuman courage and combat-skills. It gets mentioned a lot in the Dynasty Warriors games as well. (Amusingly, he's still worshipped as a god in parts of China today... a God of Wealth and Commerce, that is, due to his equally-legendary frugality and wisdom).
  • Good Omens features the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including War, a Fiery Redhead who works as a television war correspondent (who starts wars so she can cover them).
  • In Discworld, War married a Valkyrie and has become a Henpecked Husband who doesn't want to ride out when Death comes for him.
  • Bananach from Wicked Lovely.
  • Tulkas from The Silmarillion.
  • Mars in the Incarnations of Immortality series since he has complete control over all matters related to war and various magical abilities related to war. He alone controls the Doomsday Clock.
  • Tomanak from The War Gods. Considered not only a god of war but also justice. Krashnark serves the martial ambitions for the Dark Gods and is also noted as the only one of the Dark Gods that Tomanak respects because while still brutal, Krashnark does follow a code of martial honour and is the only Dark God that can actually be trusted to keep his word.
  • Mars appears in Tom Holt's Ye Gods! Notable in that, since he is still expected to ride in the front of battle in bronze armour, regardless of technological advances, and since "the best definition of an immortal is someone who hasn't died yet", the device on his shield is now a CND logo.
  • Mars also features as a major character in Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords. He's a Jerkass, but also kind of a Jerkass Woobie at the very end. He's also one of only two of the gods we ever see even attempt to answer the petition of his followers. Yes, that petition was evil, but still.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons has quite a few:
    • Gruumsh, the patron deity of the Orcs in the default pantheon, also doubles as their god of war, unsurprisingly. His son, Bahgtru, is the god of strength and combat, while his lieutenant is the god of warfare and leadership.
      • Other pantheons in the default setting have their own war gods. Drow have Selvetarm, god of war and bloodshed. Elves have Corellon Larethian, who has warfare among his many fields of influence as the leader of elvish gods. Dwarves have Clangeddin Silverbeard, The Father of Battles. Gnomes have Gaerdal Ironhand, the god of defenders and warriors. Even the normally peaceful Halflings have Arvoreen, god of protection, vigilance and war.
    • The Forgotten Realms setting has Tempus, the God of War and Lord of Battles. Most of his worshipers are exactly as Ax Crazy as you would expect.
      • Tempus himself, however, while listed as Chaotic Neutral, generally respects the rules of war and firmly believes that war for its own sake is pointless; the only thing that gives it meaning is the peace that follows.
      • Tempus also has three subordinate deities that specialize in specific aspects of war. The Red Knight is the demigoddess of strategy and tactics, Valkur specializes in naval warfare, and Garagos is the demigod of bloodlust and destruction (only avoiding a Chaotic Evil alignment in 3E because he's a virtually nonsentient personification of rage).
      • Meanwhile, the Mulhorandi pantheon has Anhur, an interesting example in that he is Chaotic Good and fights only against evil. He's also a deity of storms.
    • The main war gods of the 3.5 default setting are half-brothers Heironeous (Lawful Good) and Hextor (Lawful Evil), as well as Kord (Chaotic Good) and Erythnul (Chaotic Evil).
    • D&D actually provides the page image for this one; that's Bane, the god of war in the Points of Light campaign. He's Lawful Evil, with several good and neutral followers due to the order his church imposes. His greatest enemy is the aformentioned Gruumsh, who's waged war against him for thousands of years all for the title of God of War.
  • In Traveller Sword Worlds, the Aeserist (neo-Norse paganism) religion interprets Tyr as the god of chivalry in an interesting variation.
  • Both Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 have Khorne, the Blood God. His opposite deity is Slaanesh, the Chaos god of excess (usually flanderized as a god of lust).
    • Warhammer Fantasy also has Ulric and Myrmidia, first being the Generic Barbarian war god, and the other an Expy of Athena.
    • Both settings have Khaine, the war god of the Elves and the Eldar.
    • To say nothing of Gork and Mork, Orcish/Orky gods of brutal cunning and cunning brutality (one hits you when you're not looking, the other hits you really hard when you are.. Arguing over which is which is yet another excuse to fight each other.
  • Pathfinder has several deities associated with war. The first is Gorum, the actual god of war and battle. He's Chaotic Neutral and cares nothing for the causes that people fight for; as long as there is war, Gorum will be there to aid the good and the evil alike. He is chiefly concerned with the physical aspects of battle, and is worshipped by frontline soldiers in particular. Torag is the Dwarven god of strategy; where Gorum is the footsoldiers' god, Torag is the generals' god. Iomedae, militaristic goddess of honour and justice is often worshipped as the patron of just wars, though she herself would prefer to lose that title. Moloch, archdevil of war, fires, and obedience is the general in charge of The Legions of Hell, and is concerned with the regimented nature of the army itself, while Demon Lord Nurgal governs senseless wars that should not have been fought in the first place. Finally, there is Szuriel, archdaemon, and Horseman of War. Essentially what happens when a divinity adopts the mentality of a Psycho for Hire, Szuriel represents war's most negative aspects—societal breakdown, war crimes, rape and looting, and genocide. Essentially the personification of War Is Hell, her few followers are inevitably Sociopathic Soldiers, General Rippers, or fellow Psychos For Hire.
  • In the Mutant Chronicles universe, Algeroth is the Dark Apostle of War and Technology.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Along with the examples from Greek Mythology, there's Kratos, the occasional God of War.
  • The other Kratos receives the title War God when he reaches Level 100.
  • War in the recent Darksiders video game.
  • In Fall From Heaven, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse also make an appearance, including Buboes, the Horseman of War and Stephanos, the Horseman of Conquest... and, on top of them, the Avatar of Wrath, a colossal manifestation of concentrated anger and bloodlust.
  • There's Uesugi Kenshin from the Warring States Period of feudal Japan. Both historically and in the Samurai Warriors series, he's often referred to as 'Bishamonten', an earthly incarnation of the God of War.
  • Uesugi Kenshin also appears in the Sengoku Basara video games and their anime adaptation. He's not directly referred to as Bishamonten in these, but he is known as "the War God of Echigo."
  • RuneScape has Bandos, the Big Bad of the last quest in the Cave Goblin storyline.
  • There's a whole pantheon of them in the form of The Second Circle from Lusternia. They range from noble combat aesthetes like Terentia the Even-Bladed, who glory in the poetry of warfare, to bloodthirsty hunters like Shikari the Predator, who is described as fond of "playing with his prey".
  • Age of Wonders lets you build a shrine of war and worship the Spirit of War, portrayed as an empty red helmet with red skeleton arms. He sends you on missions about killing and destroying.
  • In Princess Maker 2, Olive can fight the war god. If she beats him, she gets his sword, which is rather useless (No defense bonus in a game where defense optimization rules, and you've already killed everything hard at this point).
  • There's a web browser game on Facebook called Castle Age. A character from there, called Malekus, would qualify.
  • Nethack features Death, Famine, and Pestilence in its endgame, leading one to question where exactly War is. It's the player.
  • Balthazar in Guild Wars.
  • In Soul Calibur 3's Chronicles of the Sword mode, one chapter begins with the player character museing about how they heard someone call them War God(dess) once (Which is not an unreasonable claim).
  • Morrighan of the Mabinogi universe is the Goddess of War and Vengeance.


Webcomics[edit | hide]