Enyo – Monstrous Goddess of War

Enyo was a shocking, warlike goddess and the counterpart and consort of the Greek god Ares. Depending on the sources, she was either the mother or sister of Ares. Enyo’s name is derived from the ancient Greek word “enyos,” which means “terror” in ancient Greek.

She was often described as the “corrupter of cities,” and usually, she was covered in blood and wore a saffron robe. The Roman equivalent of Enyo was the goddess Bellona.

Key Facts

Family tree

ParentsZeus and Hera
Partner(s)Ares in some versions
SiblingsAres, Hebe, Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths, Eris
OffspringEnyalius, Ares

Names & Others

Roman NameBellona
Other NamesEnȳō
Ancient GreekἘνυώ
The God ofViolent war
SymbolsMilitary helmet, spear, torch

Name and Etymology

The name Enyo comes from the Greek word  Ἐνυώ, which some linguists translate as warlike. However, that’s more of a guess than an actual etymology of the word. Her name, among the names of other gods, can be found on the Gigantomachy frieze on the Pergamon Altar. 

Enyo’s Epithets 

Almost all of Enyo’s epithets and nicknames describe her violent and warlike nature:

  • “Sister of war”
  • “Supreme in war”
  • “Lady of battle”
  • “Goddess of bloodshed”
  • “Companion of war”
  • “Saffron-robed”

Enyo was also one of the three Graeae. Graeae were three sisters that were born with grey hair, and according to the legend, they shared one tooth and one eye among themselves. 

Enyo’s Origins and Family

Image of Enyo the Goddess
18JohnM, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We don’t know much about Enyo’s origins except that she was the daughter of Zeus and Hera and that she was Ares’ sister and counterpart. In some versions of her story, Enyo was Ares’ mother instead.

She was also a sister or at least closely related to Eris, the goddess of strife and discord. However, Homer considered her and Eris to be the same goddess, and he assigned Eris’ characteristics to Enyo. 

She had a son, who was also a war deity, and his name was Enyalius. In this version of Enyo’s story, Ares is Enyalius’ father, which makes Enyo and Ares a couple instead of siblings. 

However, it is worth noting that, in other versions of the myth, Enyalius was Ares’ other name. In this version, Enyo is Ares’ mother and not his sister or partner. 

One of the Graeae

As already mentioned, there is a version of Enyo’s story in which she was one of three sisters called Graeae. They were the daughters of the sea deities Ceto and Phorcys. They were also sisters to Gorgons, The Enigmatic Sisters

Graeae were born as old women with gray hairs. Hesiod described them as “fair-cheeked,” and in Prometheus, The Titan Who Defied Zeus Bound, Graeae were swan-shaped. Together they had only one tooth and one eye, and they often took turns using them. 

Apart from Enyo, who was called “saffron-robed,” there were two other Graeae, Pemphredo (“alarm”) and Deino (“dread”). When Perseus, The Legendary Slayer of Medusa was looking for a way to kill Medusa, he stole their eye to force them to tell him about Medusa’s whereabouts. 

Depiction and Characteristics

Goddess of War, Destruction, Conquest, and Bloodlust
Michel wal, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since Enyo’s main characteristics are related to war and violence, her appearance and characteristics reflect that:

Enyo’s Appearance

Like most Greek goddesses, Enyo had the appearance of a young and beautiful woman. Since she was the goddess and personification of war, she wore military armor and helmet, spear or other weapon, and sometimes, a torch. 

Since she was driven by bloodlust, Enyo was often covered in blood and gore from her victims. She sometimes rode a horse or even a swan. When she is one of the three Graeae, Enyo has a swan-shaped body, and she is wearing saffron robes. 

Enyo’s Personality

Enyo was a bloodthirsty, cruel, and violent goddess. She didn’t participate in the wars because she wanted one side to win. To be precise, she didn’t care who will win and who will lose. She enjoyed war for the sake of it. 

Enyo enjoyed killing, fighting, and destruction. She inflicted terror and horror everywhere she went. Because of her desire for combat and bloodshed, Enyo was Ares’ counterpart. 

During the Titanomachy, when the Olympians rebelled against the older Titans, Enyo fought on both sides because she didn’t care who would win. She simply enjoyed fighting. 

Enyo’s Powers

Expectedly, Enyo’s powers were in connection with her role as a vicious war goddess. She was a skilled warrior capable of wiping out entire armies and destroying whole cities. She instilled fear in everyone who opposed her.

Enyo was also a skilled strategist and tactician. She helped Ares plan the destruction of cities. With her strategies, Enyo could easily change the outcome of battles and wars as she wished. However, she was usually impartial, and she rarely favored one fighting side over the other(s). 

Enyo’s Sacred Symbols

Sacred symbols of Enyo are all military-related, which is hardly surprising given her personality. A military helmet and armor, spear, and torch are Enyo’s sacred symbols. Apart from Enyo wearing them, they are symbols of war and destruction, perfectly fitting this goddess. 

Enyo’s Sacred Animals

Oftentimes, Enyo was depicted as riding a giant swan into the battle. Additionally, when described as one of the Graeae, she had a swan-shaped body. While swans were usually symbols of beauty and grace in Ancient Greece, these symbols also symbolized war and power. 

Apart from the swan, Enyo sometimes rode a war steed, so another animal that can be connected to her is a horse.

Enyo’s Roles and Responsibilities

Again, the only role and responsibility that Enyo had was to fight. She instigated violence, murder, and bloodshed, ensuring total destruction everywhere she went. As already mentioned, Enyo was a great strategist and tactician, often helping Ares in his war campaigns.

Myths About Enyo

Enyo thrived when there was war, and she wasn’t around in peaceful times. That’s why she only appears in war-related myths and stories: 

The Burning of Troy (1759/62), oil painting by Johann Georg Trautmann
Johann Georg Trautmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Titanomachy

Ancient Greeks believed that there were several generations of gods, often fighting against each other. In one such instance, the Titans, the older generation of gods led by Cronus, fought against the Olympians, the new generation of gods led by Zeus. 

As a daughter of Zeus, Enyo belonged to the Olympians. One would expect her to use her fighting skills to help Zeus and other Olympians. However, her motives were a bit more complex than that.

Instead of fighting on Zeus’ side, Enyo refused to pick a side when Zeus fought against the monster Typhon, a monstrous serpentine giant. She fought for bought sides equally, delighting in the carnage and destruction she caused. 

Eventually, Zeus overpowered Typhon and cast him into the Underworld. 

Trojan War

Unsurprisingly, Enyo also participated in the Trojan War. During the fall of Troy, Enyo, along with Eris (the goddess of strife), Phobos (the god of fear, and Deimos (the god of dread), inflicted terror on the battlefield and caused even more bloodshed. 

Together with these three deities, Enyo was depicted on the Shield of Achilles. Achilles used this shield in his fight against Hector, as described in Homer’s Iliad. 

Other Wars

According to ancient sources, Enyo has participated in several other wars. For example, she fought in the War of Seven against Thebes. In this war, seven champions fought against Thebes in order to put Oedipus, The Tragic Hero Who Solved the Riddle but Couldn’t Unravel His Fate‘ son, Polynices, instead of his brother, Eteocles, on the throne. 

Enya fought on the side of the Seven, along with Ares and Phobos. However, knowing her, she probably fought for both sides, instigating further bloodshed. In the end, the Seven weren’t able to fulfill their goal. 

Another war in which Enyo participated in the war between Dionysus and the Indians. According to the 13th book of the Dionysiaca, Zeus orders Dionysus to launch a war campaign against Indian natives.

Again, Enyo’s exact loyalties in this war remain questionable, as well as her contributions. However, it is safe to assume that she brought death and destruction. Eventually, Dionysus defeated the Indians and took them as war prisoners. 

Apart from these two wars, we know that Enyo followed Ares on his numerous war campaigns. So, it is highly unlikely that she missed any battle in the history of Ancient Greece. 

Enyo in Ancient Greek Religion

Since the main god of war in Ancient Greece was Ares, Enyo was a bit overshadowed by him. That’s why she isn’t mentioned in the ancient scripts as often as other, more popular gods, such as Ares himself, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Zeus, Hera, Athena, and others. 

Of course, so many ancient writings and sources have been lost, and with them, probably some additional mentions of Enyo. Still, it is obvious that she had significance in Ancient Greece but that she wasn’t a major deity.  

Sites Sacred to Enyo

Thebes and Aeschylus were sites sacred to Enyo. There was a festival called Homoloia that was held in honor of Zeus, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, Demete, Goddess of Agriculture, and Enyo. The festival got its name from Homolois, Enyo’s priestess.

In Athens, in Ares’ temple, there was Enyo’s statue, made by the sons of Praxiteles. There were probably more such statues in the temples dedicated to Ares. 

Enyo’s Counterparts in Other Religions

Just like with many world religions, certain archetypes can be found in several religions and civilizations. For example, Enyo’s counterpart in the Anatolian religion was the goddess Ma. There are also other war goddesses in other cultures, such as Morrigan (Irish), Andarta (Brittonic), Andraste (Gaulish), Oya (Yoruba), Anat (Egyptian), and many others.

Enyo and Thrud

Alvíss and Þrúðr, illustration by Lorenz Frølich
Lorenz Frølich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting Enyo counterparts was the Norse goddess Thrud. A daughter of Thor and Sif, Thrud remains mysterious because there is not much preserved information about her. However, we know that she was a war deity and maybe even a Valkyrie. 

Representations of Enyo in Art

Enyo’s statues could be found in Ares’ temples since she was his counterpart. She was also depicted on the Shield of Achilles, The Mightiest Champion of The Trojan War, and her name was found on the Gigantomachy altar. Unfortunately, her other visual artistic depictions have been lost.

In the Old Texts

Enyo, even though a minor deity, was mentioned in several important works of Ancient Greek literature. For example, Homer mentioned her in the Iliad, describing her role in the Trojan War and the fall of Troy.

Callimachus, an Ancient Greek poet from the Hellenistic period, mentioned Enyo in several of his hymns. Quintus Smyrnaeus was another Ancient Greek poet, mostly notable for writing Posthomerica. There, he described events after the fall of Troy and depicted Enyo as daring, mighty-souled, and clad in splendor-flashing arms.

Other notable Ancient Greek authors mentioning her were Philostratus the Elder, Pausanias, and Tryphiodorus. Among the Roman authors that mentioned Enyo in their works, the most notable are Ovid and Valerius Flaccus.

FAQs about Enyo

What does Enyo mean?

While the exact etymology of Enyo (Greek: Ἐνυώ) is lost, it is usually translated as “warlike.”

Who is Enyo in mythology?

She is a Greek goddess of war, a counterpart to the god of war, Ares.

Is Enyo stronger than Ares?

The answer to this question is tricky and maybe even subjective because ancient sources don’t compare these two deities. On one side, Ares is the main war deity, which can imply that he is stronger. On the other side, Enyo is described as his counterpart that’s equally bloodthirsty, violent, and a skilled warrior.

Is Enyo male or female?

She is a female goddess of war.

Is Enyo a god?

Yes, Enyo is a god – a goddess, to be precise. She was a goddess of war in Greek mythology.

Sources

  • Homer: Iliad 5. 333 ff and Iliad 5. 590 ff
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 5
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 29
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 1-13
  • Callimachus, Hymn 2 to Apollo 85 ff and Hymn 4 to Delos 275 ff :
  • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 41 ff
  • Tryphiodorus, Sack of Ilium 560 ff

Featured Image Credit: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Evangelia

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