Enyo—The Little-Known Greek Goddess of War

(Bellona/Enyo painted by Rembrandt  (1606–1669), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

 

The best-known Greek deities of war are Ares and Athena, but there are numerous other minor gods and goddesses who devoted themselves to bloodshed and battle. One of these more obscure supernatural beings was the goddess Enyo (Romanized as Bellona). Like many of the Greek gods, she could manipulate the emotions of mankind—as a war goddess, she usually inspired bloodlust and rage geared to create or prolong battle. Yet, she was also known to be a superb fighter in her own right, possibly only second to Athena.

Sadly, very little information is known about Enyo. Although she made appearances in several mythological tales about other gods, Enyo’s own background and history remains incredibly vague.

According to traditional Greek myth, Enyo was the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Even though Ares was her brother, Enyo took him as a lover and the two had a son named Enyalios, another minor war god. In myth, Enyo was usually inseparable from Ares; they were constant companions. Yet, she had other friends and associates, the most notable being Phobos (fear), Deimos (dread), and the goddess of strife, Eris, whom some observers found indistinguishable from Enyo.

Although Enyo was a minor war deity, she was involved in some major conflicts. Most famously, she was one of the many deities that joined the battlefield to fight during the Trojan War. She also was present during the war of the Seven Against Thebes, which supposedly occurred when seven champions campaigned against the city of Thebes shortly after the death of Oedipus. Enyo also is sometimes said to have mediated the fight between Zeus and the great giant, Typhon, and she apparently waged war against Dionysus in India.

Unfortunately, this is most of what we known about Enyo. With her reputation as a skilled fighter, and her participation in multiple famous conflicts, her place in myth is secured. Yet, unlike many of the other gods and goddesses, Enyo’s personality, character and overall motivation remains hidden behind layers of mystery.

Written by C. Keith Hansley.

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