Recently a co-worker at Hour 25 argued that Diomedes wasn’t “equal to Ares” because in his defeat of Ares the goddess Athena, assisted the mortal. Diomedes was a Greek hero at Troy. According to Homer, Diomedes drew blood on the goddess Aphrodite and war god Ares. Here is my response.
What Diomedes isn’t equal to a god (daemon)? I cranked up my personal computer rather than normally used iPad to defend our mortal friend. I want to say that giving Athena the credit for Diomedes victory over Ares is “confusing the issue with facts”. But clearly that's right. Still, I so desperately want to believe that a mere mortal like be got the best of an Olympian. My mind raced immediately to Heracles with his shooting of Hera and Hades, roughing up Apollo in his own temple – but Heracles was no mere mortal.
Then it occurred to me that I peered into the wrong end of the argument. I recall Diomedes being listed as a mortal who attained godhood. I remember the story like this; Athena obtained for Diomedes father Tydeus one of the Seven Against Thebes, the gift of immortality. As Athena rushed from Olympus with the fateful cup of nectar Tydeus received a fatal blow. Someone convinced Tydeus that with his dying breathe he should eat the brains of his enemy. How often we heard that line. Athena arrives on the scene, stumbles in shock, drops the cup and storms off the battle field in disgust. But the promise had been made by the gods, so Diomedes received the cup when his time came. I started looking for a source.
Wikipedia offers this unreferenced report; “According to the post Homeric stories, Diomedes was given immortality by Athena, which she had not given to his father. Pindar says that Diomedes became a minor god in southern Italy or the Adriatic. He was worshipped as a divine being under various names in Italy where Statues of him existed at Argyripa, Metapontum, Thurii, and other places. There are traces in Greece also of the worship of Diomedes. Greek sources say that he was placed among the gods together with the Dioscuri.”
Thebaid 8: “Tydeus raises himself and turns his gaze upon him, then mad with joy and anger, when he saw them drag the gasping visage, and saw his handiwork therein, he bids them cut off and hand to him his foe’s fierce head, and seizing it in his left hand he gazes at it, and glows to see it still warm in life and the wrathful eyes still flickering ere they closed. Content was the wretched man, but avenging Tisiphone demands yet more. And now, her sire appeased, had Tritonia come, and was bringing immortal lustre to the unhappy hero: when lo! she sees him befouled with the shattered brains’ corruption and his jaws polluted with living blood– nor can his comrades wrest it from him –; fierce stood the Gorgon with outstretched snakes, and the horned serpents upreared before her face o’ershadowed the goddess; with averted face she flees from him where he lies, nor enters heaven ere that the mystic lamp and Elisos with plenteous water has purged her vision”
Finally, Pindar’s Nemean 10 contains the line ; “And once the golden-haired, gray-eyed goddess made Diomedes an immortal god”
So, can we say that Diomedes was “equal to a god”, because in the end, he was one?