Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of April 30th - May 6th,  2004

Chapter XIII

Red is the Thread

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Rams

Rams in Spring

  With Spring still fresh in the air, we once again turn to examine this alive, fresh and exuberant spirit of life. Aries, our first sign of the zodiac, is a cardinal fire sign whose energy is fast and hot. It is ruled by Mars, the God of War, known to the Greeks as Ares. The symbol for this sign is the Ram, whose competitive spirit head butts others out of his way. The planet's red color is indicative of its fiery nature. On the high side, this theme concerns itself with bravery, courage, valor and honor. These are the best men, ready to take the lead and pioneer new directions. Personal pride is incredibly important to them. They confront their adversaries man to man, are incredibly competitive, and strive for victory. Indeed, the Homeric Hymn to Ares claims him as the 'Father of Victory.' On the flip side, they can be seized by fear and are cowards, trembling in the face of danger, and running away from the action. In the body, Aries rules the head and the face. It is thought of as the male gender, and the symbol for this planet is also the modern symbol for man.

  In the Iliad, the mythological first born of Greek literature, Homer framed his work so as to encompass the seasonal order of the zodiac. The first sign (Aries) corresponds to the first chapter, and following our first dozen chapters, Homer goes through the entire series again, for a total of twenty four chapters. In Chapter 13, the image of Ares as God of War comes up over and over again, with precisely these themes being interwoven throughout this book of individual combat. In the first image which we will evoke, the Ram even leads the way!

Ares, God of War

Ares, God of War

"Troops moved up
behind him now, as a flock out of a pasture
follows a ram to drink- and the shepherd's heart
rejoices: so did Aineias' heart rejoice
to see the men-at-arms follow his lead.
Both masses came together, hand to hand,
around Alkathoos, long polished spearshafts
crossing, and the bronze on the men's ribs
rang like anvils from the blows they aimed
at one another
. Most of all, those peers
of Ares
, Aineias and Idomeneus,
strove with heartless bronze to rend each other.
Aineias made the first throw..."

  The Iliad is an astrological primer for those studying the ways of the skies. It is for the beginner, just learning heaven's will. Fire, for instance, appears throughout this chapter, and it's image is used to show how action and courage infuse men to fight.

  "Now like a storm or prairie fire, swarming
steadily
after Hektor son of Priam,
the Trojans roared as one man- on the verge,
they thought, of capturing the Akhaian ships
and dealing death to the best men around them..."

fire

Fire

  "Here this madman,
Hektor, like a conflagration leads them,
bragging he is a child of almighty Zeus."

  In these lines, we find fire, the troops moving as one man, the best men, and a conflagration; all excellent Aries images. Here is one more example, a single line, from among many in this chapter:

  "And the rest fought on like fire's body leaping..."

  This fire infuses men to action, as part of the 'Divine Fire' referenced by the Stoics centuries later. It fills us even today, whenever we are moved to some great enthusiasm. Homer has described how this may be seen objectively, by observing Hektor as from those around him, but he also describes what it is like to feel it from the inside, as the spirit begins to rise in Aias and Aias, the two Greek champions, who are readying themselves to respond to this onslaught.

  "I knew him for a god.
The gods are easily spotted! As for me,
I feel more passion to do battle now;
I tingle from the very soles of my feet
to my finger tips!"

  'And Telamonian Aias answered:'

Modern Ares

Steve Reeves
had his Mars in Aries

  "So it is with me:
my hands itch to let the spearshaft fly!
Power is rising in me; I can feel
a springing freshness in my legs, I long
to meet this implacable Hektor face to face!"

  'So they assured each other, in that joy
of battle which the god inspired
...'

  This is also the sign which rules the head. In the outrageous acts of war which can emerge born of rage, Aries energy stands out, once again.

  'Then from his tender neck Aias Oilades,
in anger for Amphimakhos, lopped his head
and bowled it through the melee till it tumbled
in dust at Hektor's feet.'

  This chapter abounds with examples, as the action is fast and furious. Although Ares never once appears on the battlefield, his image is everywhere evoked as worked through the mortals who respond to his call.

  'Meriones, peer of Ares, in a flash
picked from the hut a bladed spear and ran
after Idomeneus, athrist for battle.
Imagine Ares, bane of men, when he
goes into combat with Rout close behind,
his cold and powerful son,
who turns the toughest warrior in his tracks...
Just so, Meriones and Idomeneus,
helmed in fiery bronze, captains of men,
made their way to battle.'

Red Ram

Red Ram

  The gods influence the outcome of all things according to the pagans, and they worked through people, often taking their form in order to mold events. This is astrology, heaven on earth, authoring affairs through the inhabitants of the earth.

  "I say I am not- not, I say- a man
to pass up any attack
. I take my place
in the front rank for action and for honor
whenever battle's
joined."

  So says Aries, our first sign of the zodiac.

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