Love? At First Sight? (05-19)
Father Knows Best (20-28)
If You Cannot Have Xena, Make Your Own! (29-53)
The Decline of Ares (54-57)
The Future of the Relationship, Now (58-61)
Ares, Returning to the Fold? (62-69)
Like the Energizer Bunny, Ares Just Keeps Going (70-91)
Ares puts a bug (not that kind of bug) in Xena's ear in THE BITTER SUITE, just prior to the Gabdrag.
Introduction In Ancient Greece, the worship of Ares, the god of war, is thought to have originated in Thrace. However, bearing in mind what Ares stood for, he was not widely worshiped. He did, however, have a temple in Athens, and the Greek Council of Elders met at the foot of the Areopagus, or Hill of Ares.
 Ares is the most common recurring god character in the syndicated television series, Xena: Warrior Princess, and is played with relish by actor Kevin Smith. Ares is the half brother of Hercules and the son of Zeus, but unlike Hercules, his mother is a goddess, Zeus' wife, Hera. Other characters in the series generally dislike him, and if Ares shows up, trouble is not far behind.
 Ares generally gets on well with Aphrodite. In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' Golden Hind Trilogy [ENCOUNTER (H50/313); WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (H51/314); JUDGEMENT DAY (H52/315)], he was accompanied by his nephew, Strife. In mythology, Fear and Rout accompanied him at times. For obvious reasons, he had to have a working relationship with Hades, his uncle, (the brother of Zeus) and Poseidon.
 From the earliest episodes of XWP, it is clear that there is a virtually unbreakable bond between Xena and Ares. It is this bond that I intend to explore in this paper. To this end, I will be using illustrations from the following Xena episodes:
- THE RECKONING (06/106)
- TIES THAT BIND (20/120)
- INTIMATE STRANGERS (31/207)
- TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)
- THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210)
- THE FURIES (47/301)
and the Hercules episode:
- JUDGMENT DAY (H52/315)
Love? At First Sight?
Ares first purrs in Xena's ear in THE RECKONING
 Ares is forever annoyed at Xena's new life and is always trying to return her to the dark side, and consequently, to him. He wants the Xena that he knew and loved: The Lioness of Amphipolis and the Destroyer of Nations. Of course, he constantly fails in returning her to her old ways. The first Xena: Warrior Princess episode in which Ares actually appears is THE RECKONING (06/106), although he is referred to in CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102). This gives us the first indications of the intense feelings that Ares has for Xena. In this author's opinion, he is 'head over heels' in love with her.
 The two of them meet for the first time in not the best circumstances for the Warrior Princess. Ares has arranged, in the form of a hooded man, to attack four villagers just as Xena appears on the scene. Seeing the attack, Xena rides to the villagers' rescue, but it is too late for three of the four, and the last is severely injured. Xena enters into combat with the attacker, and barely manages to hold her own against him. Hearing the fighting, other villagers suddenly arrive and the hooded man (Ares) disappears.
 The god of war had orchestrated it so that Xena would be accused of the murders. It was a position that Ares intended to exploit to the fullest. Xena relinquished her sword and surrendered to the villagers when Gabrielle was held a captive by them. She was thrown into jail and it was here in this compromised position that Ares made himself known to Xena, and it was here also that Ares' words gave away his feelings for her.
 He started with complements. To Xena, "Behold, your former mentor and still your greatest fan." Xena responded with, "I used to wonder what you looked like," and then he returned with, "Used to, that's the problem." Early on, he 'shows his hand' (he may have been a god, but he would have made a lousy poker player).
 His plan was simple, or so he thought -- he expected to 'seduce' Xena back to his fold. The conversations he had with her indicate that he was enamored of her, almost, at some points, obsessed. Invoking godly powers, he was able to release her consciousness into another world and now embarked on an attempt at earthly persuasion.
 He took her to a 'room' of luxury and started straight in again with the compliments. "By the gods, you are a beauty, you must know that I have missed you," he told Xena. Then he went on to express his desire, "My Warrior Princess, living as my Warrior Queen." Xena seemed to be aware of what he was doing and explained to him of her past, "I didn't know any better then. I thought your ways were all that there was for me."
 Clearly, Xena was playing with him. He then responded, "Now you know there is another side to life. Now tell me, are you really having more fun these days?" The response back was instant, "I am fighting for a better world." Again in response, Ares said, "You were always fighting for a better world," and "Your destiny is to unite the world with me."
 He also showed her thousands of warriors all, potentially, at her command, and he further agreed to let her sign decrees that he promised would help build a 'better world' free from injustice. He continued to tempt her, offering the ultimate -- world domination.
 All she had to do was call his name and he would help. Her consciousness was then 'transported' back to the jail cell. She was taken from there to the center of the village, where the villagers planned to summarily execute her. Ares was there, but only Xena could see him. He stood by, as Xena was prepared. They maintained eye contact. He waited for her to speak his name. Clearly she was not going to and it was now that Gabrielle stepped in and 'volunteered' to forfeit her own life, as well. She brought reason to the lynch mob.
 It is not certain whether Ares would have let Xena die, or whether he would have intervened. It is a question that cannot be answered due to the courage of Xena's companion. Gabrielle is always assisting Xena in thwarting Ares' plans (he may be a god, but he is not infallible!) and it is he who first uses the words describing Gabrielle as, "that irritating little blond."
 Back in her cell, Ares watches with disdain from the sidelines again as Xena is brutally beaten by a "smelly farmer," until he can stand by no more. He tells her to use her "super-mortal strength" -- a very telling phrase, the reason for which will become clear below. She snaps, as do the chains as she frees herself and she beats up the man who had previously laid in to her. She also has a go at other guards outside her cell, and in a 'hate-haze,' also strikes Gabrielle, who falls to the ground and then recovers sufficiently to withdraw.
 It appears that we have back the old Xena (the one favored by Ares), but the act of striking Gabrielle slowly restores her demeanor. For a further time, Ares takes Xena to him, after the ever-faithful Gabrielle has returned to suggest that Xena break out of jail. But Xena says no, she has an idea.
 Now Ares offers her an army of her choosing, any warriors she wishes in it and quotes her some names: Hector, Achilles, and Agamemnon. She gets him to pledge that she can have anyone if she calls his name. To this, he gladly agrees.
 Despite a rousing defense by the plucky Gabrielle at the trial, Xena is found guilty as Ares planned she would be. But in her last encounter with him, she lays plans. Taken out, ready for execution, she calls on Ares to keep his word and she calls forth "the good and innocent" men that Ares had killed and for whose murders she had wrongfully been found guilty.
 Ares knows he is beaten and his visage lights up as the 'former mentor' and still 'greatest benefactor' knows he has been beaten by the best. He calls forth the three men from Hades and they exonerate her. But as he leaves, both know that this will be the first of many encounters between the pair.
Father Knows Best
Ares, until foiled, is always confident his plan will succeed.
 Ares is not adverse to further subterfuge. In the episode, TIES THAT BIND (20/120), he appears as Atrius, who Xena has all her life considered to be her father and with whom she has had no contact since she was a child.
 Now Ares attempts deceit. Ironically, it is a precursor of the truth that is dealt with in THE FURIES (47/301). Whilst traveling, Xena and Gabrielle come across a group of women who are held by a warlord. They go to the women's aid, but before Xena can put her plan in to effect, a white-haired male warrior also attempts to free them. This warrior gets into a fight, so Xena then goes to his aid. Once they are victorious, the unknown warrior introduces himself as 'Atrius,' Xena's father. The captives are saved in the process, but one runs after the warlord's men because she has agreed to go with them to save her sister. Gabrielle runs after this woman but is set upon, and 'Atrius' saves her from injury.
 He materializes in the story again when villagers chasing him say he has stolen a horse. Xena joins the chase, and saves her 'father.' Then Xena begins to get suspicious as the villagers say that the horse has been stolen. 'Atrius,' however, says that he only collected what was owed to him.
 Further problems erupt when a man with a dart attacks 'Atrius,' but Xena catches the weapon in flight and saves him. He then goes after the attacker and kills him. Unfortunately, Gabrielle also gives chase and sees the man killed as he apparently has a knife. Gabrielle is suspicious and accuses 'Atrius' of killing the man in cold blood, an accusation which riles Xena somewhat, having just met 'Pop' again after 25 years!
 The three then start a journey back to return the women to the village from which they have been taken. Whilst separated from Gabrielle, Xena and her 'father' are attacked. Once they get to the village, Xena is all but convinced that the man is her father. However, 'Atrius' is taken prisoner by the locals because they say that he was once at the head of an attack on their village. The warlord who instigated the attack is still in the area and Xena does a deal to the effect that if she defeats him, then 'Atrius' will be released.
 She enters hand to hand combat with the warlord and defeats him. She then leads his routed army back to the village, but is devastated to discover that the locals have already put 'Atrius' to death. Anger wells up inside her and with screams of "Take The Village," and "Kill Them All," she orders the army (which she now leads) to fall upon the village and destroy it.
 This is not only the pre-Gabrielle Xena, but it is also the pre-Hercules Xena reborn. She is once again her old self, the 'Destroyer of Nations.' This is what Ares has been waiting for. This is 'his' Xena. She has 'come home.' As Xena cuts 'Atrius' down, and he appears to die in her arms. In a total rage, she looks for the culprits, but Gabrielle stands up to her, and in an attempt to bring her back to reality, hits her on the back with a pitch fork.
 Ares, perhaps realizing that his plan may be failing, reveals his true identity and Xena realizes that she has been fooled. She recognizes that the individual who represented himself as her father was, in fact, Ares disguised. Her anger now turns on him and she informs him that, "I'd rather be dead than come back to you." Ares realizes that the plan has once again failed, and leaves.
 Both this episode and THE RECKONING (06/106) show Ares, the Deceiver, trying to trick Xena into returning to him, and becoming her old self by discovering the anger and hatred that had driven her for so many years.