The personality of Ares is of less value for the social and religious history of Greece than that of any of the divinities hitherto considered. It is probable indeed that he received worship or at least recognition from most of the states, but no part of the higher civilization was connected with his legend and cult. And it is only a few records concerning these that arouse interest, an interest that is mainly anthropological or ethnographic. Two leading questions arise in this study. Was Ares a genuine Hellenic divinity? And was he in origin as well as in the later stages of his career a war-god and nothing more? It is easier to deal with the evidence for the latter problem first.
The earliest epic poetry of Greece, both the Homeric and Hesiodic, present him solely as the war-god, and convey no hint of a wider function or a more complex character. The short ‘Homeric’ Hymn, in which he is invoked as a great cosmic and planetary power of righteousness and a spiritual prayer is proffered to him for moral strength and peace, stands alone in Greek literature, and has been regarded as an Orphic figment. And Greek ritual, where it is expressive of divine character at all, agrees nowhere with this, but rather with the most narrow conception of him, which only broadens slightly in the later literature and on the most natural lines.