As long as there has been society there have been gods. Beliefs have shifted along with society, with ideas ranging from there being many gods, each controlling their own speciality, to a single entity that controls the fate of everything. There are gods that are benevolent and gods that are vengeful, with Kratos firmly in the latter category.
However, this article isn’t just about Kratos and his own need for vengeance. No, we’ve also got to look at rest of Olympus’ denizens, and the caretakers of the world. The gods of Olympus aren’t complete saints but they understand that there is an intricate balance to maintain between wielding their power and making sure the world doesn’t suffer too much.
The gods of Olympus each control certain functions of the Earth, like Poseidon who controls the waters or Hera whose field is plant life.
Perhaps it’s this perception of narcissism from the gods that causes Kratos to turn his rage on them when he decides that his slaying Ares isn’t enough to satisfy his grief, seemingly dooming humanity in the process. It’s at this point that you could argue that Kratos moves from anti-hero to fully blown villain.
You see, when his quest was focused on Ares it was easy to claim that his murderous intent was justified because it was Ares who caused Kratos to kill his own wife and child. The gods clearly agreed, as he wasn’t punished for this murder but instead rewarded with the power of a god. However, the destruction of the rest of the gods is a lot harder to justify for Kratos.
It’s undeniable that Kratos’ actions have far wider ramifications than simply killing the gods, with his decisions pretty much signing death warrant for the whole world. First it’s Poseidon who falls to Kratos’ wrath. In the immediate wake of his death water levels rise, burying whole cities and leaving countless thousands under the waves. Kratos’ rage has consumed him so much that he becomes something he once hated – a god who doesn’t care and only wants to satisfy his own needs.
After Poseidon’s death, other gods start to fall quickly. Hera is killed, which ends all plant life, while Helios’ death leaves behind only darkness and storms. Zeus is the obvious final target, but he’s aware of what Kratos’ madness is doing to him and tries to do whatever he can to stop him.
And yet still the narrative is presented from Kratos’ point of view. To him Zeus is a terrible being who doesn’t deserve to live. However is Zeus really that bad? He acknowledges his mistakes, realising that allowing Kratos to become a god was huge mistake on his part.
Instead let’s look at this as Zeus would. He raised Kratos, his son, to a position of power that many beings would love to occupy. Zeus probably has his reasons as to why he doesn’t announce he is Kratos’ father but he does his best to make sure his son is given everything he needs following the heartache he has suffered. Of course this action also comes about because Zeus is scared that Kratos will end him, just like Zeus did to his own father, the Titan Kronos.[drop2]Yet all that effort is for nothing. Kratos lets his anger just stew for ages, leading to the apocalypse.
Zeus sees all of this occurring and takes the only course of action he can – Kill Kratos. Though Zeus does have a selfish reason, one that appeared when he was infected by fear after Kratos opened Pandora’s Box, he still understands that a balance must be kept and Kratos is the main threat to that.
Although Kratos gets his revenge, he still falls by the end of the trilogy. The question is was it worth it? He destroys everything that ever wronged him, but in the process fails in his duty as a god to guide humanity and maintain the balance. Kratos’ selfish attitude leads to actions that are far worse than anything the other gods had done.
It’s saddening that he lost his family by his own hands but he then went on to wipe out whole other families because his blood lust extended further than his revenge required.
The story of the God of War series is a lot more complicated than a standard good versus evil struggle because the gods’ allegiances continuously shift during the course of the games. The only real constant is Kratos’ rage, which takes him from anti hero to the harbinger of the apocalypse.