Diomedes rules! Yeah, I’m biased but the facts bear me out. The guy drove off not one, not two, but three gods from the battlefield, all in the same day. Show me another Greek hero who could accomplish so much? Achilles? He’s supposed to be the greatest warrior, but he’s sulking in his tent. Odysseus is a great thinker and did was the man against Polyphemus, but this is on a whole other level. Hercules? Sure, he did a lot, and is the paragon of what human beings should aspire to, but his trick with Atlas doesn’t measure up to driving three gods from the battlefield, injuring two of them. We also can’t let go that one of these gods is Ares, the god of War.
Mic pick up.
Yeah, I’m not done with Diomedes just yet. We have to deal with the question of why this matters. Yes, Athena is superior to Ares, but that’s something else. Athena’s involvement with Diomedes is minimal. She allows him to see the gods and leans in on the spear thrust against Ares, but that’s it. Diomedes does all the rest on his own.
Diomedes was able to face off against gods and came out victorious. This is huge. Achilles gets all the glory, but Diomedes is the one we need to recognize for great deeds. This changes the very nature of the godhood for the Greeks. Before this moment, the gods were on a level far removed from humanity. Even when we have contests such as Arachne vs. Athena, the gods always have the power to beat the humans. Arachne might be a better weaver, but she is powerless against Athena’s other gifts.
Diomedes, though, wins the day. Driving Aphrodite and Apollo from the field are lesser—though still great—accomplishments as their areas are not war. Ares, however, is at home on the battlefield, and should be able to best anyone in hand-to-hand combat. Yet Diomedes is the victor. And that’s an end to it. The contest has already been decided, and either Ares is powerless to go after him in another way, or not bright enough to think of it (50-50, I’d say).
What this means is that mortals can challenge the gods on their own level. It’s also important that it is Diomedes to accomplish this. Achilles, Aeneas, Perseus, Bellerophon, Theseus, or Hercules would rob these deeds of their true importance. They all have divine blood. That connection to the gods would be the excuse that allowed them to engage the gods in battle. Diomedes, though, is completely human.
Mortal parents and his own prowess are what gave him the victory. Not only has he earned the reputation for a terrifying war cry to opposing armies, but to the gods themselves, and Greek mythology is forever changed.