I have actually never played any of the gamings in the video game series God the War. I don’t really have any type of interest in video clip games and, also if i did have actually an interest in them, I would never have time to play them. Nonetheless, as a Hellenist, I favor to pay fist to exactly how Greek mythology is depicted in contemporary popular society and I discover it interesting that Kratos, the main character in the God of war series, is actually an extremely loosely based on a real figure in Greek mythology.

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In Greek mythology, Kratos is the divine personification the strength, the son of the Titan Pallas and also the Okeanid nymphe Styx. Ironically, in old Greek sources, Kratos is portrayed as a dumb, too many violent thug who is unquestioningly loyal to Zeus and also whose task is to enforce Zeus’s authority over all the various other deities; whereas I’ve review that, in the video game series God the War, Kratos is apparently illustrated as a renegade demigod that kills all the significant deities in the Greek pantheon, including Zeus.

Kratos: the personification that might

The superordinary Kratos is the magnificent personification that power and authority. Nonetheless, this superficially basic description belies the somewhat more confusing reality of the exact function that Kratos occupies in Greek mythology. We typically think of divine beings as gift worshipped, yet we have actually no evidence that Kratos was ever before worshipped in old Greece as a deity. Likewise, he is virtually never ever mentioned exterior of a mythological or allegorical context.

Therefore, return Kratos is explained as a deity, the does not seem to have been envisioned together a divine being in the same means Zeus or Athena to be envisioned together deities; instead, the was watched as more of a personified concept elevated come the level of being a magnificent being. He is, in various other words, the literal personification of the principle of power itself.

This is reflected in Kratos’s name. The name Kratos chin is literally simply the ancient Greek indigenous κράτος (krátos), which means “strength,” “power,” “authority,” or “dominion.” The same word is likewise one that the root of our English indigenous democracy, which comes from the old Greek native δημοκρατία (dēmokratía), i m sorry is formed from the Greek indigenous δῆμος (dêmos), meaning “populace,” and κράτος, definition “power” or “authority.” the word democracy thus literally means “the power of the populace” or “rule by the populace.”

The Greek word κράτος is additionally a source word behind our word aristocracy, which originates from the ancient Greek word ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratía), which is created from words ἄριστος (áristos), an interpretation “the best,” and also κράτος, an interpretation “power.” Thus, the word aristocracy literally way “the power of the best” or “rule through the best.” (In ancient Greece, the was extensively believed—at least among members of the aristocracy—that those who were of rich birth were naturally and also inherently better than those who were no born wealthy in every possible way: morally, aesthetically, intellectually, etc.)

To give you some idea of just what sort of power Kratos represents, during the time that the roman inn Empire, words κράτος was used as the Greek translate in of the Latin native imperium, which way “the absolute power to command and also be obeyed there is no question.” people in the Roman civilization who wielded imperium were followed around by bodyguards known as lictors, who carried the fasces, a bundle of rods through an ax blade emerging from it, symbolizing absolute authority. During the oriental Period, the word κράτος almost completely displaced the Latin native imperium.

The word κράτος is also a component of words Παντοκράτωρ (Pantokrátōr), an epithet offered to explain Jesus Christ in east Orthodoxy that way “All-Powerful” or “Almighty.” In Greek mythology, the divine being Kratos might be accurately believed of together personifying the all-powerful, unquestionable government of Zeus.


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ABOVE: photo from Wikimedia Commons of a yellow Koson from roman Dacia portraying a consul v two lictors delivering fasces. The lictors transporting fasces stand for the level of imperium the consul possessed. The Greek word κράτος was supplied as a translation because that the Latin word imperium.

Hesiodos the Askre’s Theogonia

The faster known cite of Kratos everywhere in old Greek literature originates from the city Theogonia, a long narrative poem around the history of the deities that was written in about the so late eighth or at an early stage seventh century by the Greek poet Hesiodos the Askre. The city mentions Kratos and his siblings in present 383–388, which check out as follows in the initial Greek:

“Στὺξ δ᾽ ἔτεκ᾽ Ὠκεανοῦ θυγάτηρ Πάλλαντι μιγεῖσαΖῆλον καὶ Νίκην καλλίσφυρον ἐν μεγάροισιν:καὶ Κράτος ἠδὲ Βίην ἀριδείκετα γείνατο τέκνα,τῶν οὐκ ἔστ᾽ ἀπάνευθε Διὸς δόμος, οὐδέ τις ἕδρη,οὐδ᾽ ὁδός, ὅππη μὴ κείνοις θεὸς ἡγεμονεύῃ,ἀλλ᾽ αἰεὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ βαρυκτύπῳ ἑδριόωνται.”

Here is mine own reasonably literal translate in of this lines:

“And Styx, the daughter of Okeanos, was blended with Pallas, and also she gave birthto Zelos and Nike the beautiful-ankled in the great halls.And she gave birth likewise to Kratos and also Bia , beautiful children.These divine beings do not have actually a house much away indigenous Zeus, nor any kind of sitting-place,nor a path except that one through which the deity leads them,but constantly before loud-thundering Zeus carry out they dwell.”

According to this passage from Hesiodos, Kratos is the boy of the Titan Pallas and the Okeanid nymphe Styx, his 3 siblings are Zelos, Nike, and also Bia, and also he and also his brother dwell eternally through Zeus.

Hesiodos go on to recount how, ~ Zeus toppled his father Kronos in the Titanomachia, the decreed that all divine beings who had not organized positions under Kronos would certainly be given positions in his brand-new regime. Styx and her four children were the an initial ones to involved Zeus come ask because that positions. Therefore, Hesiodos claims that Zeus offered them the highest stations in his government and decreed that they would be allowed to dwell with him eternally.

The truth that Jealousy, Victory, Power, and Violence dwell eternally through Zeus is obviously expected to be highly symbolic. Hesiodos is plainly trying come send a message that Zeus is the supreme grasp of every things and that all powers over Jealousy, Victory, Power, and Violence are his come command.


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ABOVE: Minerva and also the Triumph of Jupiter, painted in c. 1706 by the French Neoclassical painter René-Antoine Houasse. In Greek mythology, Kratos is the personification the the absolute, unquestionable divine authority that Zeus.

Kratos in the opening scene that Prometheus Bound

Kratos’s most well known appearance anywhere in old Greek literature occurs in the opened scene that the tragedy Prometheus Bound, i m sorry was initially performed in Athens in ~ some point in the 5th century BC. Prometheus Bound is traditionally attributed to the Athenian playwright Aischylos (lived c. 525 – c. 455 BC), however many scholars have actually questioned even if it is Aischylos really composed it, because it differs significantly from his enduring plays that unquestioned authorship.

In the opened scene that Prometheus Bound, Kratos is depicted as a brutal thug that works for Zeus and enforces Zeus’s dominance over gods and also mortals alike. Kratos bullies the mild-mannered blacksmith god Hephaistos into chaining the Titan Prometheus come the next of a cliff together punishment because that stealing fire from the gods and giving it come humanity. When doing this, Kratos repeatedly proponents for the use of unnecessary cruelty against Prometheus. As soon as Hephaistos feels sympathy because that Prometheus, Kratos scolds him and also threatens him with the wrath of Zeus. Here is the conversation, as interpreted by James Romm:

Kratos: “That’s enough. Why delay, indulge in pity?You need to hate the god whom every the gods hate many ,the one that gave your prize far to mortals.”

Hephaistos: “But to damage my kin is dreadful, or my comrade.

Kratos: “This ns admit. However to shirk your father’s words—How can you do it? don’t you fear this more?”

Hephaistos: “Pitiless as ever, ns see—and over-bold.”

Kratos: “Your whimpering because that him won’t cure his ills.Don’t problem over what will execute no good.”

Hephaistos: “Hateful skill of my hands—I curse it now!”

Kratos: “Why so? ns tell you, and it’s no long tale,your craft is no the cause of his hard labors.”

Hephaistos: “Still i wish some other had actually my calling.”

Kratos: “No task is light, other than to preeminence the gods.No one other than for Zeus is important free.”

A bit later in the scene, Kratos assignment Hephaistos to drive a steel spike right through the middle of Prometheus’s chest as difficult as he deserve to to make Prometheus experience as lot as possible. Hephaistos groans in sympathy for Prometheus. Kratos warns him that, if he no obey, Zeus will certainly punish him just as severely together Prometheus. The conversation continues as follows, as soon as again, as rendered in James Romm’s translation:

Kratos: “Now journey the keen sheet of this steely spikeright through his chest. Put strength behind the blow.”

Hephaistos: “aiai Prometheus! currently I groan for her pains.”

Kratos: “What, shirking again, and also groaning because that Zeus’s foes?Watch out, you’ll quickly be pitying yourself.”

Hephaistos: “You view a sight that ache the eye to watch on.”

Kratos: “I check out someone obtaining what the deserves.Now close the restraints about his sides.”

Hephaistos: “I do what I should do. Nothing heap top top orders.”

Kratos: “I will press you. I’ll scream it in your ears.Go reduced now—use pressure to tie his legs.”

Hephaistos: “The job is done. It didn’t need lot effort.”

Kratos: “Now strike through all your force to lock the shackles.The an excellent Inspector won’t be trifled with.”

Hephaistos: “Such ugly words—they enhance your ugly form.”

Hephaistos’s comment in this scene around Kratos’s ugliness contradicts Hesiodos’s declare in his Theogonia the Kratos and also Bia were “beautiful children.” We deserve to probably analyze Hesiodos’s comment together flattery, though, because Hesiodos is recognized for calling divine beings “beautiful” the were normally regarded as hideous.


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ABOVE: step from a power of Prometheus Bound in ~ the 1930 Delphic Festival. Kratos and also Bia are displayed holding Prometheus, while Hephaistos, presented here with red hair, was standing nearby.

After Hephaistos leaves, Kratos remains behind come taunt Prometheus. He particularly mocks Prometheus’s name, Προμηθεύς (Promētheús), which, in Greek, literally method “Forethought.” In James Romm’s translation, Kratos declares:

“Now go and do your worst—steal indigenous the godsand offer their compensation to mortals! Your human friends—how deserve to they assist you drain this sea of troubles?The god who dubbed you Foresight called you wrong.It’s foresight that you lack. You need it now—to tell you how you can gain out that this.”

Ever because the Romantic movement in the so late eighteenth and also early nineteenth centuries, Prometheus has actually been widely viewed as the archetypal rebel v a just cause, Zeus has been viewed as the archetypal tyrant, and also Kratos has been seen as an archetypal thug.

The classic scholar Robert Holmes Beck, however, suggests in his book Aeschylus: Playwright Educator the Kratos’s serious treatment the Prometheus is not intended to be seen as cruel or too much in any kind of way, however is instead meant to be viewed as the correct and proper enforcement the justice. That argues, based on quotes from Aischylos, the Aischylos believed that every punishments have to necessarily be severe in order to deter potential transgressors.

He additionally argues that Prometheus is meant to be seen as delusionally ill character who totally deserves his punishment and also that the trilogy that originally started with Prometheus bound was an alleged to be around Prometheus comes to accept Zeus’s absolute authority and also recognize that his own punishment was totally necessary.

Personally, I’m no really convinced by Beck’s argument. I might be thinking anachronistically here and imposing contemporary moral criter on a play native 2,400 year ago, yet Kratos as he is illustrated in this scene seems to me favor a totally unsympathetic caricature that inhumane brutality, if Hephaistos and Prometheus seem come me choose they are meant to it is in sympathetic—at least to part degree. It’s hard for me to imagine that the author of Prometheus Bound supposed for united state to completely sympathize through Kratos and also not at all v Prometheus.


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ABOVE: Illustration through the brother Neoclassical artist john Flaxman (lived 1755 – 1826), first published in 1795, showing Kratos and also Bia hold Prometheus under as Hephaistos chains him to the mountainside. For part reason, in this illustration, Bia is shown as male.

The mythological Kratos and also the video clip game character

There yes, really is a god in Greek mythology named Kratos. Ironically, though, the video game personality Kratos indigenous the God of War series was supposedly not intentionally called after the actual mythological deity at all. In fact, the creators the the game God that War actually had actually no idea the there also was a real deity in Greek mythology named Kratos.

Instead, the creators that the initial 2005 video clip game God of battle picked the surname “Kratos” for their character in ~ a an extremely late stage in the development process, ~ the personality had already been totally fleshed out. They choose the name due to the fact that it to be the Greek word for “Strength” and they thought about strength to be the primary attribute the the personality they had just created.

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It to be not till much later that few of the game developers found out that there really was a deity in Greek mythology dubbed Kratos. In the 2010 documentary film God of War: Unearthing the Legend, which was marketed alongside copies of the video game God of battle III, Stig Asmussen, the director of the game, explained the reality that the video game character occurred to have actually the very same name as an yes, really god from Greek mythology together “a happy accident.”


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ABOVE: Image native Wikimedia Commons of the video game personality Kratos as he is portrayed in the 2018 video game God the War. The creators of the character Kratos had no idea there was in reality a deity in Greek mythology with that name.