Many cultures have Goddesses of War, despite the fact that women were either banned from fighting or it was culturally unusual for them to do so. In Greek culture, we have fighting Goddesses or at least ones who use weapons, including Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. We have the myth of the Amazons, the tribe of female warriors who have been so celebrated in culture. We also have Nike, Goddess of victory. A lesser-known Goddess, however, is Enyo (Bellona in Roman culture). Enyo has been written about as a companion of Ares, God of War, though she is also called his sister, his wife, and sometimes his mother. Well, the Olympian Gods did tend to marry their siblings. Anyway, since November is Warrior Woman Month, we’re going to give you a rundown on Enyo, Goddess of War.
Homer, the poet who gave us the Iliad and the Odyssey, writes about Enyo, merging her with the Goddess Eris, who was all about Strife and Discord. We also hear about her as having a child with Ares named Enyalius, a war god. (It also might be a title for Ares, making Enyo his mom. So complex, these twists and turns of Greek mythological family trees.) It’s often stated that Enyo’s parents are Zeus and Hera, the major pairing of the Olympians. That would make most of the Olympians her siblings, including Ares.
Despite being one of the lesser-known Goddesses of Greek mythology, she was written about quite a bit. In the Iliad, Homer writes of her, “[The] goddesses, who range in order the ranks of men in fighting, [are] Athene (Athena) and Enyo, sacker of cities.” He also says, “And with him followed the Trojan battalions in their strength, and Ares led them with the goddess Enyo, she carrying with her the turmoil of shameless hatred.” Quintus Smyrnaeus writes in his Fall of Troy epic from the 4th century CE, "Who is so aweless -- daring, who is clad in splendor-flashing arms: nay, surely she shall be Athene, or the mighty-souled Enyo -- haply Eris (Strife).” He also says, "[Among the images decorating the shield of Akhilleus (Achilles):] And there were man-devouring wars, and all horrors of fight ... Phobos (Panic) was there, and Deimos (Dread), and ghastly Enyo with limbs all gore-bespattered hideously, and deadly Eris (Strife).”
During the fall of Troy, Enyo had a blast, according to poets and historians of the time, alongside Eris, as we’ve said, Phobos (Fear), and Deimos (Dread). Those last ones are also sons of Ares. She also took part in the Seven Against Thebes and a war with Dionysus, the God of Wine. This warrior woman has also been associated with the Anatolian Goddess Ma. There was also a statue of Enyo at the temple of Ares in Athens made by Praxiteles. Enyo was celebrated during the festival of Homolôïa in Thebes and Orchomenos alongside her pop Zeus and her sisters Athena and Demeter.
The Goddess Enyo appears in DC Comics in New Earth. She’s also a popular subject for cosplayers.
So, who is your favorite real or mythical warrior woman in history? Let us know on Twitter @SYFYFangrrls! Make sure to stay tuned for our entire series on warrior women of the past during Warrior Women Month. May your blade be ever sharp!