Deimos and Phobos: The Twin Gods of Fear and Terror

In the intricate web of Greek mythology, where gods and goddesses personify various aspects of life and nature, there are two lesser-known but fascinating deities: Deimos and Phobos. These twin gods, sons of Ares and Aphrodite, embody the darker emotions of fear and terror, respectively. They serve as constant companions to their father, Ares, the god of war, amplifying the dread and horror that accompany battles.

Deimos and Phobos Key Facts

ParentsAres and Aphrodite
All SiblingsHarmonia, Eros, the Greek God of love, Anteros, and others
Other namesNone
Roman nameMetus (Deimos), Pavor (Phobos)
The Gods ofFear (Deimos), Terror (Phobos)
SymbolsSword, Shield

Name and Etymology

The names Deimos and Phobos are as evocative as the emotions they represent. Deimos, derived from the Greek word “δεῖμος,” translates to “dread” or “fear.” His Roman counterpart is known as Metus. Phobos, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “φόβος,” meaning “panic” or “fear,” and is known as Pavor in Roman mythology.

While Deimos and Phobos don’t have many epithets, their names alone are enough to evoke the sensations they embody. In the Roman context, Metus and Pavor are similarly straightforward, capturing the essence of these gods without the need for additional titles or descriptors.

The etymology of their names is not just a linguistic exercise but a direct window into their roles within the pantheon. They are the personification of emotions that are as ancient as humanity itself, serving as a constant reminder of the darker aspects of human experience.

Lukiwerner50, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Deimos and Phobos Origins

Born to Ares, the god of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Deimos and Phobos had a unique upbringing. Their immediate family was a blend of contrasting elements: love and war, beauty and brutality. This duality is perhaps what shaped them into the gods of fear and terror.

While there are no specific myths detailing the birth of Deimos and Phobos, their parentage alone makes them intriguing figures. Being born to such powerful and contrasting parents would undoubtedly have its own set of challenges and expectations, shaping their roles in the divine realm.

As Daemones, or spirits, Deimos and Phobos serve as extensions of their father’s will on the battlefield. They are not just symbols but active participants in the theater of war, amplifying the emotions they represent and thereby making their father, Ares, even more formidable.

Deimos and Phobos Relationships

Unlike many other gods who have a list of lovers and relationships, Deimos and Phobos are unique in that they don’t have any known romantic entanglements. Their primary relationship is with their father, Ares, and their role in aiding him during warfare. This lack of romantic relationships perhaps adds to their mystique, focusing their narrative solely on their divine duties.

Similarly, there are no myths or accounts that mention offspring for Deimos and Phobos. Their legacy, therefore, is not carried on through descendants but through their enduring roles as the harbingers of fear and terror in the realm of gods and men.

Depiction And Characteristics

Deimos and Phobos are often depicted as young men, fitting given their eternal roles as the embodiments of emotions that often strike in the vigor of youth. They are usually shown carrying swords and shields, the instruments of war, aligning them closely with their father, Ares.

In terms of personality, Deimos and Phobos are not as complex as some other gods, given their singular focus on instilling fear and terror. However, this doesn’t make them one-dimensional. They are the embodiment of emotions that are deeply rooted in the human Psyche, The Deification Of The Human Soul, making them relatable yet terrifying.

Deimos and Phobos Powers and Symbols

As gods of fear and terror, Deimos and Phobos possess the ability to instill these emotions in the hearts of mortals and gods alike. While they don’t have a wide range of powers like some other gods, the ones they do have are potent. Their mere presence on the battlefield could turn the tide of war, causing soldiers to flee in panic or freeze in dread.

The primary symbols associated with Deimos and Phobos are the sword and shield, representing their roles in warfare. These symbols are not just decorative but are emblematic of their functions. When these weapons appear on the battlefield, they serve as a physical manifestation of the emotions the twins are known to incite.

Deimos and Phobos Roles 

Deimos and Phobos have a singular but crucial role: to accompany their father, Ares, in war and amplify the feelings of dread and terror among the enemy ranks. While this may seem like a limited function, its impact is profound. Wars are not just won by swords and strategy but also by breaking the will of the opponent, a task at which Deimos and Phobos excel.

Their responsibilities extend beyond the mortal realm. Even among gods, the twins serve as a reminder of the darker emotions that even divine beings are not immune to. In this way, they contribute to maintaining the balance of emotional states in both the mortal and immortal worlds.

Their roles are not just limited to the context of war. As the personifications of fear and terror, they also serve as constant reminders of the darker aspects of human emotion, aspects that can both cripple and catalyze, depending on how they are channeled.

Myths about Deimos and Phobos

Deimos and Phobos are not the main characters in any myths, but they play smaller roles in several, especially those involving their father, Ares. One such myth involves their participation in the Trojan War. Here, they accompanied their father into battle, spreading fear and terror among the Trojan ranks. Their presence was so impactful that it turned the tide of specific skirmishes, making them invaluable assets to the Achaean forces.

Deimos and Phobos In Ancient Greek Religion

While Deimos and Phobos were not the primary focus of any major religious practices, they were often invoked in the context of war. Soldiers would pray to them for courage, paradoxically seeking protection from the very gods who embodied fear and terror.

There are no known temples dedicated solely to Deimos and Phobos, but they were often honored in temples of Ares. These temples would typically feature statues or reliefs of the twins, usually in a stance that suggests readiness for battle. Offerings to them, often in the form of weapons or tokens symbolizing courage, were common.

Representations Of In Art

Artistic representations of Deimos and Phobos are relatively rare compared to other gods, but when they do appear, it’s often in the context of war scenes. They are usually depicted as young men armed for battle, standing beside their father, Ares. These portrayals serve to emphasize their roles as extensions of their father’s warlike tendencies.

Mentions in Ancient Texts

Deimos and Phobos are mentioned in several ancient texts, albeit not as prominently as some other gods. Homer’s “Iliad” describes them accompanying their father, Ares, into battle, serving as his charioteers. 

Another mention can be found in the works of the Roman poet Ovid, who lived during the 1st century BC. In his “Metamorphoses,” Ovid describes the twins as constant companions to their father, amplifying the horrors of war.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are they the gods of?

Deimos is the god of fear, and Phobos is the god of terror. They often accompany their father, Ares, in battle.

Who are their parents? They are the sons of Ares and Aphrodite.

Do they have any lovers or offspring? No, there are no known lovers or offspring for either Deimos or Phobos.

How are they usually depicted?

They are often shown as young men, armed and ready for battle, usually beside their father, Ares.

Were they worshipped?

While they didn’t have temples of their own, they were often honored in temples dedicated to Ares, especially during times of war.

Are they mentioned in any famous myths?

Yes, they appear in myths like the Trojan War and the tale of their kidnapping by the Aloadae giants.

Featured Image Credit: Lukiwerner50, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Evangelia Hatzitsinidou is the creator and author of which has been merged with She has been writing about Greek Mythology for almost twenty years. A native to Greece, she teaches and lives just outside Athens.