Mythology of Aries can be broken down into two distinct parts. The first part represents the mythology behind the Golden Fleece and the zodiac constellation. The second part explains the myth of Aries, the Greek god of war.
Part One: The Golden Fleece
The constellation of Aries was named in honor of the ram of Aries in the epic story, The Golden Fleece.
King Athamas Takes a New Wife
King Athamas of Boeotia took a new wife, Ino, after his first wife, Nephele, died. Ino hated her new step-children, Nephele's twins, Helle and Phrixus.
The Murder Plot
Ino came up with a devious plot to spread a disease that caused the crops to fail. Facing sure famine, the people turned to a revered oracle for advice. Ino bribed the oracle to tell the people that the only way to stave off the famine was to sacrifice the twins to the gods.
From the spirit world, Nephele begged the gods to save her children. The gods sent a magical creature that could fly, the golden ram of Aries. Helle and Phrixus (Phryxus) climbed onto the ram's back. The ram flew the two children out of harm's way. Unfortunately, Helle fell off of the ram's back into the sea and perished. Her death spot was renamed Hellespont (Sea of Helle).
The Golden Fleece Sacrificed
In gratitude to the gods, Phrixus sacrificed the ram and presented the golden fleece to his host, King Aeetes of Colchi. The king suspended the fleece from a tree in the Grove of Aries and charged a dragon serpent to guard it.
Jason and Argonauts: Golden Fleece Quest
The golden fleece is best known from the Greek story of Jason and the Argonauts, who set out to retrieve the golden fleece as a demonstration of his worthiness to claim the throne from King Pelias. The king was understandably reluctant to give up the throne and sent Jason on a suicidal mission, certain that Jason would either perish on the journey or fall victim to the powerful dragon guarding the fleece. After surviving many obstacles and challenges, Jason stole the golden fleece out from under the dragon.
Constellation of Aries
The constellation of Aries is said to be that of the sacred golden ram. Over 2,000 years ago, Aries was the host to the vernal equinox. This placed Aries as the first constellation in the zodiac. Over the centuries, the equinoxes have moved past that position; however, in tropical astrology, Aries (March 21 - April 15) still retains the number one position of the zodiac wheel.
Part Two: Aries, God of War
Aries was a lover, devoted loyal father and a warrior. Aries was impulsive and had an unhealthy thirst for bloodletting. He was the only son of Zeus and Hera. His love of war didn't endear him to anyone, especially his parents. Due to his thirst for battle, he chose to live among the human warring tribe of Thrace, known for their constant battling with other tribes. The myth depicts Aries as having loyal followers, but for the majority of the men he lead, he was detested because of his bloodlust.
It isn't surprising that Aries was often at odds with his sister, Athena, the goddess of warfare, strategy and wisdom. Athena was a strategist who saw the value in bargaining for peace to end a war. Her brother, on the other hand, would charge on with the war never wanting an end to the bloodshed, much less encourage peace negotiations.
Aries and Aphrodite
Aries fell madly in love with Aphrodite who was married to his half-brother, Hephaistos. One version of the story claims that the lovers were caught in the act by Helios, the sun god, who told the male gods on Mount Olympus and led them back to watch the couple. Aphrodite was mortified, but Aries was incensed and made certain he spent more time with Aphrodite.
Another version places Hephaistos as the one who caught the lovers. He ensnared them in a net that he used to drag them before the gods for judgment, but the gods set the couple free. In both versions, the lovers continued to be together for many years.
Aphrodite had numerous lovers and, of course, so did Aries. This didn't mean that Aries approved of Aphrodite having other lovers. It was different for the god, who must always be number one. In a jealous rage, he killed one of her lovers, Adonis.
The original sign for Aries was a dog and a vulture. Aries marched to war with the two sons he had with Aphrodite, Phobos, the god of fear and Deimos, the god of terror.
Aries and the Spartans
Aries was the father of the water dragon that Cadmus killed. The dragon's teeth were removed and planted in a field. Full-grown men sprouted from the teeth, and these warriors were named Spartans. It's no wonder that the Spartans were such fierce warriors since they were direct descendents of Aries. Not long after he killed Aries's dragon son, Cadmus married Aries's daughter, Harmonia (also Aphrodite's daughter).
Aries sided with the Trojans against the Greeks since it was Aphrodite's face that launched a thousand ships. When one of his sons was killed in the war, Aries joined the war against Zeus's direct order that forbade the gods from joining. Frustrated and angry with her brother for participating in the war, the goddess Athena hurled a stone at Aries and hit him in the head. While he was incapacitated, she had a solider plunge his sword into Aries side, effectively taking Aries out of the war.
The Mythology of Aries
The myth of Aries and the story of the golden fleece were told long before Homer wrote them down; it's no wonder there are numerous versions of the mythology of Aries and the other gods.