Since the release of God of War for PlayStation 4 this May, the game has been all the buzz in the gaming world. You have undoubtedly heard of it, and its lead character, who is based on Kratos in Greek mythology. The story throughout the game follows Kratos and his son Atreus as they set across the Norse wild to spread Kratos’s wife’s ashes.
However, there appeared to be a big difference of who Kratos was in the popular God of War series and who he was in Greek mythology. In order to get a better idea of how he was portrayed in the game series compared to who he was in mythology, we need to take a closer look at who Kratos was in the God of War series, then compare that to mythology.
Kratos in God of War:
Kratos was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Callisto, making him a demigod. Zeus, as a result of having a child with a mortal woman, sent Kratos to be raised by his mother in Sparta. This left Kratos unaware who his father was for most of his life. As he grew up, he trained with his brother Deimos, both who had dreams of being a great Spartan warrior one day. However, his brother was taken by Ares and Athena because Zeus had a vision of being killed by one of his sons.
Fast forward a few years, and Kratos got in a pickle and needed help in battle. He called on Ares (one thing led to another and he had forgotten at Ares took his brother years ago), who was the God of War, for help in a battle, and in exchange for his help, Kratos devoted himself to Ares service.
Under the rule of Ares, Kratos did his bidding loyally for years. One day, in a fit of rage (and being influenced by Ares), Kratos went on a killing spree. This resulted in the death of his wife Lysandra and daughter Calliope. After the fact, he learned that Ares teleported his wife and child to the place of Kratos’s rageful slaughter. Full of fury and rage, Kratos set out to destroy Ares.
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Eventually, Kratos succeeded in killing Ares and became the new God of War promoting him to godhood. However, some events led to others, and he was tricked by Zeus and his godhood was taken from him. This made him a mortal, or at very best a demigod (there is still some discrepancy among fans.)
Kratos in Greek Mythology:
Now that we have looked briefly at who Kratos was in God of War, we must ask a different question. Who was Kratos in Greek mythology?
Apparently, he was really a nobody. Throughout the rest of this post, we will take a look at who Kratos was in mythology as a son, sibling, and servant.
Son of Pallas and Styx:
Kratos in Greek mythology (also referred to as Cratos) was the son of Pallas and Styx. Titan warriors that fought in the great Titan war (sorta) against Zeus.
Pallas, the god of battle and warcraft, had 4 kids, Nike, Zelos, Bia, and Kratos (but we will get to them later). He fought in the Titan war against Zeus but was eventually killed by Athena. After killing him, she crafted her aegis (goat hide arm guard) from his skin. So, needless to say, he had a rough go of things.
His wife, Styx, was the goddess of the underworld river Styx. She, unlike her husband, pledged her allegiance to Zeus at the beginning of the Titan War (what a sellout). She also brought her 4 children to be servants of Zeus. Due to her allegiance and loyalty to Zeus during the war, he allowed the Styx river to be the means by which gods were bound.
Sibling of Nike, Zelos, and Bia:
In addition to Kratos, Pallas and Styx also had three other children Nike, Zelos, and Bia. There isn’t much to say about them, but it’s still important to know a little of their background to get a full understanding of things.
All of Pallas’s children were brought to Zeus by Styx to be his servants during the Titan War. Over time, they became loyal to him and continued to serve him.
Nike was the winged goddess of victory and was Zeus’s charioteer. Bia, a goddess, was the spirit of force, might, and strength. Zelos was the spirit of rivalry, emulation, jealousy, envy, and zeal and was Kratos’s only brother.
Servant of Zeus:
Above all else, Kratos was mostly defined by his service to Zeus. After his mother brought him and his siblings to Zeus during the Titan War, Kratos served Zeus loyally. The Kratos in Greek mythology was most distinguished as being wholly loyal and devoted to Zeus.
Kratos loved what Zeus loved and hated what Zeus hated. His name, which meant force, was a good way to describe him. His forceful nature demonstrated the power and nature of Zeus’s dominion. He would never have done anything to bring shame to Zeus’s name and sought solely to carry out his decrees.
Prometheus Bound and Libation Bearers:
Despite his outstanding loyalty to Zeus, Kratos was only really seen two times in Greek mythology. Even in one of the stories, he was hardly highlighted. The Kratos in Greek mythology was almost non-existent. He appeared most prominently in Prometheus Bound and had a very very brief appearance in Libation Bearers.
Kratos’s biggest role was seen in Prometheus Bound. Essentially, the story told the tale of Prometheus, a Titan god, being punished by Zeus for giving mankind fire in the Titan War. He went against Zeus by stealing fire from the heavens and giving it to men. Zeus punished him by chaining him to a mountain in the Caucasus. This was considered to be the end of the earth, where an eagle would feed upon his “ever-regenerating liver.”
Kratos’s role in this was rather insignificant but showed his loyalty to Zeus. Kratos was the one responsible for taking Prometheus to the mountain and locking him to it. According to the story, he verbally abused Prometheus and reminded him that this was his punishment for disobeying the almighty Zeus. His sister, Bia, was present, put she chose not to berate him. This was important because it showed just how loyal Kratos was to Zeus. He did his bidding for him, didn’t look back, and fully believed in the cause.
In Libation Bearers, Kratos was seen, but it was very brief and pretty much insignificant. Electra, an Okeanid-nymph called on Kratos, Dike, and Zeus to aid her brother Orestes. Orestes desired to kill his mom Aegisthus, to avenge his father, who was murdered by his mother.
There was little significance to the Libation Bearers as far as Kratos was concerned. However, I felt it was important to include in order to see Kratos’s continual aid of Zeus.
As you have hopefully seen throughout this post, the Kratos in the God of War series and the Kratos in Greek mythology were vastly different. In God of War, Kratos was the son of the almighty Zeus, who began as a demigod and eventually became a god before it was taken away from him by his own father. In mythology, he was the son of a Titan god. He then became a servant of Zeus who was completely and totally loyal to him.
I wanted to take a closer look at this not to point out the mythological flaws in the God of War series, but simply because I thought it was interesting. God of War is merely a video game, and video games are meant to be made up and fun.
Despite the discrepancies between Kratos in the game and Kratos in mythology, it was very interesting to see Kratos portrayed in a different way than he was historically.
The latest addition to the God of War series was released on April 20, 2018, and has been critically acclaimed as a fantastic game, receiving many 10/10 scores.
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