Zeus Basileus is & has been an integral part of my path for a few years now. He is everywhere reflected in my hometown of San Diego; From our ports to our bases, to multi-million dollar estates overlooking the sea, He can be found in abundance and I’m often reminded of this passage while driving around my city:
Begin with Zeus, on every man’s lips
The streets are full of Zeus, and all the marketplaces;
The sea is full of Him, and the harbors:
All of us need Zeus everywhere we go.
And San Diego truly comes alive at one crazy, perfect day in the middle of summer: The Fourth of July.
Every year since high school, I’ve braved the sheer mass of people down to Coronado to watch the Armed Forces parade in honor of Zeus Polieus (Protector of the Polis) and Ares Stratios (Warlike). It’s an extravaganza – an hours long event down the main street with floats, students, costumes, cars, politicians, charities, and more men & women+ in uniform than you could possibly count.
I’ll be honest, it’s bedlam. It’s a never ending sea of locals, tourists, and out of towners alike who start lining up for prime spots on the parade route before 6 am, when the street officially opens. Try finding a parking spot without bursting into tears. I learned my first year to plan ahead and stay on island overnight with a friend or it’s just not worth it. And yes, I know I’m complaining a lot, but that sort of brings me to my point:
This is what Zeus is about. This is Zeus Maimaktês & Zeus Epidôtês, He likes it loud & booming and so I flock to these places when I feel the call to honor Him and praise His sacred names.
Ares is no different. If anyone is at home in a raucous crowd, it’s Ares; especially any crowd extolling the virtues of War, Honor, & Patriotism. I do it all because They love it. I do it because They care.
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Every family has its problems, and ours is no different.
Zeus Himself is the one who refers to Ares, at least in Homer’s mythic canon, as the “most hated of the Gods”. Never ending bloodshed and battle crying does not sit well with the King of Law & Freedom. In our modern world, too, the need for war & violence does not always sit well with those who deeply believe in the virtues of Nonviolent Protesting, or who plead the disenfranchised not to “fight hate with hate”/”let hate win”.
Even a house built on strong pillars may fall if it is divided. And so I take this one day each year to honor the estranged bond between Father & Son: How They can come together in times of great human need. In crisis, when the shit must hit the fan, and one party or another must rise up and win the day lest the entire house collapse utterly, Father Law and Brother War will draw close again, to hold what They can together until reinforcement comes.
War is a last resort, a Hail Mary pass, a sinking ship’s attempt to bail itself out of complete destruction. But as any French Revolutionary or cause’s Rebel Soldier will tell you, War can be a necessary price to pay to keep the House standing. I honor this aspect of Zeus & Ares, uncomfortable though it may be, this and every 4th.