Ares and Athene

So-called “Ludovisi Ares”. Pentelic marble, Roman copy after a Greek original from ca. 320 BC. Some restorations in Cararra marble by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1622.

Ares, Roman copy of Greek original fixed up by Bernini

Athene Polias, defender of cities,
the patron of civilization,
sits appalled in the UN,
hand pressed to her cheek.

“War,” she says, “is the extension of policy,
by other means,
what policy do you think you’re extending,
can’t you see where this is heading?”

“We are Good Guys(TM)
and can do anything we want
to anyone, anytime we like.
Won’t that make everyone love us?”

Out in the desert
red-handed Ares, Ares Enyalios,
is unleashed at last,
ninety feet tall, bearing machine guns.

Marching grinning to the battlefield,
astride a war plane,
on top of a tank,
scattering death.

At home his votive hawks are saying
“Look, we’re winning,
that’ll show those no-good peaceniks.
First Amendment? Wasted on them.”

People are dying, people on both sides,
and the world has grown small enough
that they are all our brothers,
or folk we met out walking the dog.

By Kresspahl (talk) 18:42, 24 May 2010 (UTC) Cannon casted by Albert Benninck in 17th ct. (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Athena, on a cannon, 1679

(They’re dying, horribly, now, as you read this.)
Zeus, lord of justice, turns away appalled,
as good folk comfort themselves saying
“It is not as bad as Austria in 1938.”

“Probably nothing too bad is happening,
how could we check anyway?”
As freedoms are lost, piecemeal,
and civilization rocks, tilts, tips in the balance.

Ares howls delight to the desert night.
Athene tells us to care, to act now,
and we, who are small, and separate, and human,
do each the best we can.

26th March 2003