Phobos, the Greek god of fear and panic
Who was Phobos?
Phobos was one of the lesser Olympian gods, the son of Ares and Aphrodite. He was the Greek personification of fear, flight and panic. Phobos personified panic, a sudden sensation of fear occurring in in individuals or large groups as mass panic, which is so strong that it prevents reason and logical thought, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of apprehension and frantic agitation. His association with Ares the god of war and Deimos the god of terror caused an outward show of fear and panic on the battlefield resulting in soldiers fleeing from the conflict due to abject terror. Phobos and Deimos were charged with the task of driving the chariot of Ares. According to ancient Greek mythology the chariot was drawn by four gold-bridled fire-breathing stallions who were called Aithon (Red-Fire), Phlogios (Flame), Konabos (Tumult) and Phobos (Fear).
Phobos and the Shield of Heracles (Hercules)
A description of Phobos is included by the Greek writer Hesiod, in the Shield of Heracles:
"In his hands he [Hercules] took his shield, all glittering: no one ever broke it with a blow or crushed it. And a wonder it was to see . . . In the centre was Phobos (Fear) worked in adamant, unspeakable, staring backwards with eyes that glowed with fire. His mouth was full of teeth in a white row, fearful and daunting..."
Phobos and the Gods of War
The description by Hesiod also included other Greek Gods of war and battle including:
- Frightful Eris (Battle-Strife) who arrays the throng of men: pitiless she, for she took away the mind and senses of poor wretches who made war against the son of Zeus
- Proioxis (Onrush)
- Palioxis (Backrush)
- Homados (Tumult)
- Deimos (Terror)
- Androktasia (Slaughter)
- Kydoimos (Confusion)
- The Keres (the Death Spirits)
Phobos (Roman Counterpart was Timor)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses, such as Phobos, were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Phobos was Timor.