Warrior?

Inspired by Pete Helm’s post in Aspis of Ares here about what is a warrior? The post was very thoughtful, and many of the comments quite intriguing when contimplating what defines a warrior. Like Pete I am a literalist when it comes to the word warrior. I understand that there are those who use warrior in a metaphorical sense refering to personal combat and being engaged in struggles, or even in the context of putting oneself in dangerous situations (for whim one commenter brought up firefighters and EMTs). However, I don’t think that being in a dangerous situation alone qualifies as a warrior. After all many professions can be involve potentially life threatening dangerous situations. Big game hunting itself is quite risky to one’s wellbeing, but that doesn’t make a hunter a warrior by any stretch of the imagination (though it is not unheard of for warriors to enjoy hunting, and in ancient Sparta youths did participate in hunting before they achieved adulthood).

To be accurate we must attribute what people actually do, and we do no service to attribute inaccurate classifications. An artist creates art, a musician creates music, a hunter hunts game, a warrior serves in fighting in war..though like Pete I would be willing to extend this definition to police as well as it wasn’t too long ago that there was little distinction. To this extent we see that what people are doing, and context, plays a big part in determining what a warrior is…and this is keeping in mind that there many gods, aside from Ares, who are associated with warfare, but are not typically seen classified as a warrior god.

Apollon is not a warrior god….though he participates in it in the work of Homer (as does his twin), and the twins likewise are honored in other successful battles they are not addressed as warriors. Yet, Apollon has a prominent place in warfare and was honored in Sparta as a god of similar appearance to Ares with his spear and helmet at Amyclae as Pausanias describes the statue. So Apollon for all instensive purpose certainly seems to resemble a warrior. But when we look to his function in warfare it is very precise. He is the Marshaller of the host. Specifically he is the god of the paian, to whom it was sung, bolstering the courage of the forces even as it drove fear into the enemy. Singing the paian for Apollon was to turn evil away from themselves in the course of the battle. Thus Apollon in the context of war served as a protective deity of the troops engaging in bloodshed rather than a soldiering god. So when I saw someone ask of EMTs this is automatically what came to mind. Yes they are in dangerous situations, and yes they are often performing a protective service. But their service is not really that of a warrior, but participating in a fashion akin to Apollon’s own role in warfare (though certainly that doesn’t estrange them from Ares either as they are working within his general domain). Apollon may not be a warrior, but he is a protector and guardian. A different function with a different definition, but certainly not less than being a warrior. There is no reason for people to cling to a romance of being a warrior if that is not who they are. There are many other terms which can be attributed to other manifestations of strength, and community service.

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2 thoughts on “Warrior?

  1. Excellent writings, from both you and him! One comment in the other post was a very good observation: that people tend to use “warrior” to describe one who is heroic or who performs acts of heroism, and that the two are not synonymous…Certainly this discussion is helping me to contemplate and understand this aspect of my own Lord better, so I’m grateful for it! 🙂

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