mythtake episode 7 mythological tour of the solar system 4: mars/ares

mars copy

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

img_6482We skip over planet earth (for now) and head to our fourth stop in our tour of the solar system: Mars. The Red Planet,, named for the Roman god of war, has intrigued humans for millennia. Today we learn about the Greek god of war, Ares, from his appearances in the Homeric Hymn to Ares, Odyssey 8.266-366 and Iliad 5.418-425, 880-969.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Homeric Hymn to Ares

Ares, exceedingly mighty, rider of chariots, golden-helmeted,
strong-spirited, shield-carrier, guardian of cities, armed in bronze,
strong-handed, untiring spear-bearer, defender of Olympus,
father of Victory, successful in war, ally of Themis,
a ruler for enemies, leader of truly just men,
staff-bearer of men’s prowess, you who win your fire-bright sphere
among the planets with their seven paths in the sky, where your fiery
colts ever keep you above the third orbit.
Hear me, defender of mortals, giver of flourishing youth,
shining down a gentle light form above on my life
and my strength in war, so that I may be able
to ward off bitter cowardice from the my head,
and to bend the deceptive impulse of my soul with my wits
and to restrain the sharp forty of my heart which provokes me
to enter the icy-cold din of battle. But you, blessed one,
grant me courage to stay within the carefree bounds of peace
while escaping the conflict of enemies and violent death.

(Trans. Susan Shelmerdine)


Ancient Sources

Homeric Hymn to Ares

Homer Odyssey 8.266-366

Homer Iliad 5. 418-425, 880-969

Ovid Metamorphoses 4.228

Selected Sources

Homer. Iliad. Trans. Anthony Verity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Homer. Odyssey. Translated Richmond Lattimore. New York: Perennial Classics, 1967.

Homeric Hymns. Trans. Susan Shelmerdine. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 1995. Print.

McDonald, Bob. “Mars: from God of War to habitable planet.” Quirks and Quarks. Blog. 27 May 2016 ( “Mars: The Red Planet” ( ) “Mars Today: Robotic Exploration” ( “Your Weight in Space” (


Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum

Subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss an episode!

Google Play

Find our RSS on Podbean

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.

promises of spring

My personal barometer tells me that spring is happening. The snowbanks outside might not look like it, but there is definitely some warmth creeping back into the sunshine and the temperature fluctuations indicate the annual battle between the shifting seasons. Even though my body hates the weather issues, spring is my favourite of the seasons and I am feeling somewhat desperate for this year. I did see a robin on February 13th chirping at me from atop a snowbank and on the 19th I found a pussywillow out in soft grey buds. Perhaps the robin and the willow were just confused, but I am clinging to them as signs that spring is coming.


Spring. Squelching through vernal pools and delightful mud puddles. Listening to the songs of mating frogs and finding tadpoles in spring pools. Daffodils and hyacinths, my favourite of the spring bulbs, pushing their green noses through the dark, moist earth to share their brilliant colours and fragrance. The red haze, already on the maple trees as sap begins to flow up from deep roots to the topmost branches, turns to red buds and spider-like flowers, then finally tiny umbrella leaves. Clouds of apple and pear blossoms, alive and humming with life, laden dark limbs. Dozy bees bumbling through lilacs. Shimmery beetles and chubby grubs return with clouds of butterflies. Worms trace their trails through soft mud in the misty mornings. Morning bird song changes as robins and blackbirds return. Creatures of all sizes, from insects to toads and snakes, basking in the warm sunshine. Purple violets peeking through the freshly green grass. Warm, sun-dried laundry scented with fresh-cut grass. Fresh thunderstorms rinsing away winter’s grim and leaving clean, rain-scented air filled with cheerful bird song.

Yup, I am ready for spring.

thoughts on a lycian tomb above simena

This is another post from the past, written while I was in Turkey visiting the Lycian tombs above SimenaFour and a half years later, this remains one of my very favourite photos, writings, and memories, from the trip. It was originally typed on a Turkish keyboard, so the ‘i’s have no dots. 

Lycian tomb, with ancient olive tree, above Simena, Turkey.
Lycian tomb, embraced by an ancient olive tree, above Simena, Turkey.

There would be no more perfect place to be dead than here hıgh on thıs clıff overlookıng the wıne dark sea where your lıfe was lıved. Your bones are cradled now ın death by the ancıent olıve whıch once nourıshed them ın lıfe. The buzzıng beetles sound your funeral dırge and the sure-footed goat forms the only processıon ın memorıal of your death. The tımelss sun warms the stone of your tomb and the earth embraces your dust untıl only the olıve remembers.

Autumn Comes in the Night

Fall came in the night. I knew it before I even opened my eyes this morning in the change of bird song. I love the autumn. I love the warm, bright days bathed in golden sunshine and the chilly nights studded with sharp stars. I love the blaze of golden rod and the purple swathes of wild asters. I love the hues of changing leaves against the brilliant blue sky. I love the music of the crickets, who sing all day now, the firecrackers of grasshoppers beneath my feet and the last flutterings of butterflies. I love the nourishment autumn brings to my soul.

My Piece of Heaven

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m just back from two lovely days on the Bruch Peninsula. I went camping with a friend at Cyprus Lake, where we explored caves and rock formations along the Georgian Bay coastline. Each new vista was more amazing than the last. The place that blew me away the most was Halfway Log Dump (named from its role in the logging era). The white cobble beach was spectacular: not a speck of sand or soil in sight, just drifts and drifts, meters deep, of rounded white rocks highlighted by the occasional black, blue or pink stone. In places, slabs of flat rocks were exposed, with cracks running through them as straight as a ruler and filled with small stones or water. Giant boulders rested on the beach in places; having been heaved up by the ice, they now rested on tiny rocks. It was far too beautiful to absorb it all.


Killarney Provincial Park

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spent five gorgeous days in July canoeing through Killarney Provincial Park in semi-northern Ontario. It was my first backcountry adventure and I loved every minute of it. I saw my first black bear and a merganser duck with a dozen or more little ones in tow. Loons and bullfrogs lulled us to sleep, and the loon calls echoing up and down the lake were spine-tingling. We canoed through Bell, Three-Mile, Balsam, David, Crystal, and Johnnie Lakes. There were only a couple of odd cottages, which predated the founding of the park, and one motor boat on Bell and Three-Mile. After the first portage it was just us and nature, with the occasional fellow canoeist passing by. I heard a float plane a few times, but the sky was beautifully free of jet contrails.