(Part II of the interview with Roberta Sandford of Olympus Tonight)
RS: Let’s talk your lawsuit.
Ares: All right.
RS: You are suing an unnamed person for defamation of character and slander. From what I have been able to determine, you are suing a member of your own family. Is this correct?
Ares: Yes, it is.
RS: Would you mind revealing the name to me?
Ares: Yes, I would. I have no intention of releasing that information at this time. I appreciate your desire to get the scoop before the rest of your colleagues, but I intend to keep that private for now. If it becomes necessary, then I will release the name.
RS: Fair enough. What led you to file the lawsuit against this unnamed family member?
Ares: As I said in my press release, your great historians and storytellers were not kind to us, and perhaps my father might be to blame for a bit of that. There is a family story that says that Zeus was in a particularly prickly mood one night, and he got into an argument with a scribe, who took exception to being called “lower than a snake on Medusa’s head”. The next day, the offended scribe started a rumor, someone wrote it down, and things went downhill from there. Once things are written down, it’s hard to get them removed, as I am sure you are well aware.
RS: I think I can understand the scribe’s position, and in his position, I probably would have done the same thing. What is the one thing that they got wrong?
Ares: (deep breath) They called all of the male gods rapists. I know that is not a word that should be bandied around so blithely, but I will explain. Back in ancient times, it is believed that the word “rape” meant “kidnap”, while “ravish” meant “rape”. Do you follow me so far?
RS: Not completely, no.
Ares: Let me use a more modern example then. Between 1621 – 1622, a young Italian artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, created a sculpture called The Rape of Persephone. In Bernini’s time, “rape” meant “kidnapping”, so the scultpure he made represented Hades coming up from the Underworld to kidnap Persephone. I won’t go into any more details about that; that is her story to tell, not mine. But, to continue my point, over the centuries, the word “rape” took on a more sinister meaning, which is the one that is used in this day and age. As our stories came down through the ages, people grabbed onto the word “rape” and made us out to be these horrible men…well, you understand the stigma that goes with that word. Many of us have had to explain ourselves over the centuries until we realized no one was listening, so we gave up.
RS: Are you all innocent, though?
Ares: There are a few, maybe three or four, whose names we have not been able to completely clear, although not from lack of effort on our part.
RS: I understand your aunt, Demeter, has been helping you with the research.
Ares: Yes, that’s true. She’s a very good lawyer, and she has access to records that I do not. The research is ongoing, of course, but we have been able to clear the names of many people.
RS: Why is this so important to you?
Ares: At a family gathering a couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion going on, I can’t even remember what it was about exactly. My name was mentioned, and someone said, “Ares was a rapist.” That was certainly a conversation killer for me, and I chose to leave instead of getting into an argument with the person. But it infuriated me. I didn’t feel like I could defend myself without being told I was blaming the victim instead of taking responsibility for my own actions.
RS: Not to be indelicate, but let’s just get this out in the open right now: are you a rapist?
Ares: No! I have never forced myself on any woman. I am known as the God of War. I have a hair-trigger temper, and will fight anyone at the drop of a sword. A battle thrills me, even today, although not as much as it did back in the old days. When it comes to women and children, I am known as a protector and defender, especially of mistreated women. A prime example of this is my daughter, Alkippe, who was raped by a son of Poseidon, and I killed the offender. I paid the price for it, but it was worth it. I will neither confirm nor deny any of the rumors regarding other women asking me to take revenge for them for wrongs done to them by men. I raised my daughters, the Amazons (thank you, Warner Bros., for making my daughter, Diana, look so good on the screen, although we really should talk about some of the finer details), to be warriors. I am a lover of women; I admire their strength and beauty. Nowhere in your history books or in fictional stories of me has any proof been given that I raped women.
RS: What about your father? He was a well-known womanizer.
Ares: Remember the story of the bitter scribe? He is the reason that my father is now portrayed less kindly than he should be. My father’s only sin is that he loved too much. That’s not to say that his marriage to my mother wasn’t, and isn’t, strong. It is. But he never lied to her about his affairs. She didn’t approve, and she certainly wasn’t happy about all of the children he fathered with other women (I am thinking in particular of Herakles, the egotistical jerk), but she forgave him and stood by him. Their marriage is stronger now, and he is content with her. It’s rather embarrassing when they get all lovey-dovey in front of us. We have to send them to their room a lot. (laughs)
RS: Why are you so concerned about the way the public will perceive you now? No pun intended, but this is ancient history we’re talking about here, and most of it is fictional, if I am to believe your story about the humiliated scribe.
Ares: You’re kidding, right? Have you read some of the stories from your own newspaper? Have you looked at social media or watched any news programs lately? These kinds of things are being drudged up all the time! How can we, as gods, be expected to be accepted by society if there is someone standing on a tabletop, screaming that all the male gods in her family are rapists? How can we prove to you that we are not the same immortals that once roamed the earth thousands of years ago, if one of us is writing articles and telling anyone that will listen how horrible we were back then? All society has to hear is one negative thing, and they will turn their backs on you and freeze you out faster than water in an ice tray.
RS: Why do you think this person is doing this?
Ares: Because her battle armor is on too tight? Seriously, I believe she has a personal agenda and a score to settle. The way she has chosen to do it is to destroy the reputations of the men around her to make her look like the strongest one of us all. She does not understand the damage she is doing. All that concerns her is that her voice is the loudest one in the arena, and that what she has to say is perceived as the truth. What’s the saying: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”? We have learned that it doesn’t matter what any of us say, what evidence we can present, we are still wrong. We are seen as justifying the wrongs we have allegedly done. We have been tried and condemned in the public eye, and people are beginning to believe what they are seeing.
RS: So that’s when you decided to sue.
Ares: Yes. Someone needed to stand up for all of the male gods and say, “This is not right.” We have evidence that most of the things being told about my father, my brothers, my uncles, myself and others are not true. Having said that, I understand that she feels she is doing the right thing by taking up the mantle for the rights of women. I have absolutely no problem with standing by women who have been victimized by power-hungry men, by bullies who think it is right to terrorize a woman. But when a woman, hellbent on being right, turns on her family and falsely accuses them, she makes them victims in a way. My intention with this lawsuit is to get our story out there, present our evidence and proof that the accusations she has so blithely flung at her own family are simply to push her own personal agenda. She needs to realize that she cannot do such things without impunity.
RS: Besides getting the truth out there, what are you hoping to gain from this lawsuit? Is this for monetary gain?
Ares: (scoffs) I don’t need her money; I have plenty of my own. My hope is that the lawsuit will stop her campaign against us. If there is a peaceful solution, I am open to it. But if she refuses to see the truth and stop her lies, then I will push it as far as I have to, for however long I have to. I won’t stop. I don’t care who she is. You cannot attack your own family and not expect there to be repercussions. I want the male members of my family to be able to talk to people without being asked if the rumors about their previous behavior is true. We want a chance to show people that we are not the same immortals that we once were.
RS: Let’s hope this story helps you achieve your goal, Ares. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Ares: I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out. Thank you.
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