After the God of War games blew our minds throughout the 2000s, it is hard to think of Greek mythology without at least briefly thinking of Kratos. As we followed this demigod though his adventures of destruction, we grew to love him as a character. His tragic past, rise to Godhood, and defeat of most of the Greek pantheon drew us in and constantly had us wishing for more. When God of War III left us with a bit of a cliffhanger, we wondered if he would ever grace our television screens again, beyond some guest appearances in fighting games. Well, two years ago, we got the first sneak peek into the next chapter in the life of Kratos. It seemed pretty clear that now he was to take on the Norse gods, but this time alongside his son.
In honor of the recent release of God of War (2018), we wanted to do something a little different and take a look at sometimes you may not know about Kratos. Sure, we all know about his story, but just how much do we know about the demigod's body? If you have not played every one of the games, there might just be some details that you missed. Starting with some of the more well-known facts and ending in some lesser known facts.
15 The Scar
It is safe to say that we all know about Kratos' signature facial scar, but do you know just how much significance it carries? When Kratos was a child, the Gods received a prophecy that a marked warrior would be their downfall. Ares and Athena immediately went in search of such a warrior before he became strong enough to topple Olympus. Kratos' brother Deimos seemed the perfect fit as he had a strange birthmark that covered his left eye. As they arrived to take Deimos away, Kratos attempted to stop Ares, which ended with him being thrown to the side, giving him a nasty slice through his eye.
In picking the wrong brother, they sealed their fate.
It becomes clear later in the series that the true mark was Kratos' curse to carry his sins on his skin, making him the warrior. It's crazy to think that they were right there and picked the wrong brother. If you study Greek mythology, you will find that the Gods themselves were very fickle and often jumped to action based on emotion. Based on that, this story actually makes a lot of sense. In fear for their Godhood, they chose what seemed to be the most obvious answer. Strange, since seemingly the taking of Deimos was what actually sparked the prophecy to come true.
Art by Sonicx2011.
14 The Ghost of Sparta
So, speaking of the true mark of the prophecy, what exactly is it? As Kratos grew up in Sparta, he became a great warrior, refusing to be defeated by any foe. However, pride often is accompanied by a great failure, as he was eventually brought to heel by Alrik, the king of the Barbarians. As he was about to be defeated, he called out to Ares, The God of War, vowing that he would serve Ares if he was spared. Ares knew that Kratos was a great warrior from his prowess thus far, so he eliminated the entire enemy army and took Kratos as his servant.
As Kratos carved a swath through Ares' enemies, Ares knew that he could be an even greater warrior if he did not have to love for his wife and daughter. So he tricked Kratos into attacking Athens and, in the brutal assault, he unknowingly ended the lives of his family. As he grieved, a witch approached Kratos and cursed him to wear the ashes of his family on his skin. This is what earned him the nickname "The Ghost of Sparta" as he was now pale white and consistently tortured by his past. Ares was correct, however, this new found rage would be focused on taking revenge on The God of War.
13 What It Means To Be A Spartan
We know that Kratos was a great Spartan warrior, but few people truly know what that means. In Sparta, all boys were to become warriors in training by age 7, starting them down a strict path of training and education. Their education pushed ideas of obedience and included a lot of exercises to promote endurance on the battlefield. They also constantly competed with each other and fought because of it. This was to not only instill the warrior ways within them, but also create camaraderie and even rivalry amongst the most promising warriors. It is not surprising at all that after living this way from a young age, you would be fighting fit for the majority of your life.
In battle, Spartans often took a more defensive approach to fighting when they could, taking advantage of their body-length shields and spears to keep the enemy away. Seeing the emphasis on discipline, it is a little surprising to see Kratos lose his cool so often. It is easy to see how this kind of life could cause the strength and musculature seen in Kratos. Setting aside that he is a demigod, all of his men would look similarly fit. This was only the first half of his life, however, and his hardships were only beginning. He only has the one major scar from those days on his body.
12 All His Body Can Take
Not taking into account the game over screens you are sure to see while you play these games, Kratos has been seriously injured multiple times. Even finding himself in Hades more then once. Often times, he's been fighting his way out and crawling back to the mortal realm, just to be sent back. It goes to show you that persistence is certainly his greatest strength. Assuming that anyone that reaches the end of their life will end up in Hades, then this means that yes, Kratos physically died. But why is he special enough to come back?
When you think of it, does that mean all of the Gods he has defeated have also gone to Hades? Were they unable to escape? Disregarding some of these plotholes, Kratos is not immortal. None of the Gods are truly immortal, perhaps it is his human side that saves him by landing in Hades. Kratos was even turned mortal at the same time he was ran through by Zeus' sword. He has the large scar in his belly to prove it.
In the newest title of the series, Kratos' son can bring him back to life using a Resurrection Stone, proving that even with his powers, there is the chance of defeat. You could argue that if you couldn't fall in battle, the game would not be entertaining or challenging, but you have to shoehorn in lore where you can.
11 All Grown Up
Kratos is not a small guy, but compared to his enemies, he is often much smaller than them. If you refer to the picture, it will show you the level at which Ares prefers to fight and he is not even the largest foe that Kratos has defeated. Kratos often crawls up his enemies like an Assassin's Creed character, before he delivers fatal blows while standing on the giant's chest or shoulder. Every step in his climb is delivering damage and it is hard to think what something like that would feel like.
Perhaps he never learned the phrase "pick on someone your own size."
For one of Kratos' more famous fights, he grew to nearly the size of Ares and fights him at his own level. Ares pulls a trick of his own and takes back the Chaos Blades for the fight, so what is Kratos to do? He pulls a giant stone sword from a statue over the bridge to Athens and runs him through, of course. Knowing Kratos' strength at normal height, it is hard to say how strong he would be when he is as tall as a skyscraper. One thing is for sure, however, Kratos will find a way and he will defeat you if he wants to.
10 Body Of A God
So we have established that Kratos is a demigod since he is the son of Zeus, but what exactly does that do for him? Honestly, he seems more or less very similar to Hercules. Their only real powers seem to be superhuman strength, agility, and being able to take a lot of damage before being defeated. So when Kratos took Ares' seat in Olympus, did it really do anything to his powers? Seemingly not, but it did give him a really awesome set of armor to wear. Beyond that, he seems to be the same angry Spartan we all know and love. If becoming a God was easy as bulking up, we all would workout more.
The biggest commonality among the Gods is having a gorgeous body. All that really happened when he became the God of War was the insight into Olympus snd deeing how they treated him as a God and how they squabble with each other only fuelled his rage. After being betrayed by them once again, he finally decided to go through with his plans to destroy Zeus once and for all. As a consequence, he defeated nearly the entirety of the Gods living in Olympus, only leaving the ones that did not get in his way alive.
Art by Sonicx2011.
9 Defeating A God
So what does it take to defeat a God of Olympus? Well, it takes determination and strength. Kratos has at times been defeated and even captured a few times, but as long as he knows the exit to Hades, nothing can stop him. So what sets him apart from the other Gods, as he comes back and they do not? You could say his inability to give up, but there have been times where he almost ended his own life due to his troubled past. When his brain decides he has had enough, his body follows to destructive ends.
Perhaps the best example is when he found his daughter at the base of the world, living in Elysium Fields as a pure soul. He wanted nothing more than to just stop his fighting and stay with his daughter for the rest of time. Sadly, Persephone tricked him into giving up his powers, so that she could topple the world into the underworld, which would have ended both his daughter and him. Knowing she would most likely perish again anyway, he said his goodbyes and rushed to save the world. A reasonably selfless act for someone who is rooted in hate, don't you think? This stacked upon his already uncountable sins as it drove him to gain his power back and stop Atlas from dropping the world.
8 Getting Old
When God of War III came to a close, we feared that we would never have a true end to the story of Kratos. Thankfully we have the newest entry to continue the story of our troubled demigod. Though there is one major change that is closely followed by the fact that he has a son; Kratos is a bit older then the last time we have seen him. There is a bit of an argument online that states that he has aged since he gave up his powers at the end of the last game. However, it is only stated that he gives up the power of hope given to him by Pandora's Box. With his skill in battle, it is hard to say that he lost everything but even Zeus is depicted as an old man. Perhaps it is his demigod side that's aging him slower than normal.
Regardless, he is obviously a little less angry then he used to be, perhaps coming to terms with his past. Though with the passing of his wife, he is no less troubled. Perhaps instead he is focusing on his son to add a sense of meaning to his life. He has changed mentally and physically and only time will tell how this will affect him more.
7 You Thought Yours Was Cool
We all can tell by looking at Kratos that he has a large red tattoo that spirals around him and ends on his face. So why does he have the tattoo? It was not very common to see a tattoo on anyone but a slave in the 4th Century. The Latin word for a "tattoo" was a stigma, which was a mark of disgrace given to slaves or criminals. Needless to say, they were not normally this elaborate. Kratos' tattoo is meant to look exactly like the birthmark that his brother had and as a reminder of his failure to save him.
Have you noticed that the tattoo moves game to game?
From game to game, the exact location of the tattoo seems to slightly shift. In God of War 1, we see it be more curved and thinner than in the later games. It also has a different location all together on his arm. In the newest game, it is slender again but is drawn at sharper angles, as it was in the second game. Is his tattoo magical or did the artists take some liberties from game to game? Either way, his tattoo makes your tattoo look like child's play.
6 You Can't Be Serious
If you are a fan of history, you might have stumbled upon arguments of how tall ancient warriors really were. From estimations based on historical findings, Spartan shields were meant to cover the warriors from neck to thigh. That being said, these shields were about 3 feet tall, averaging to the warriors being roughly 5' 7". So, according to the games, how tall is Kratos? A whopping 8 feet tall. If one of your warriors was that tall, he would have to have been at least blessed by the gods. If you look back at the games, you might realize that the average man is not that short compared to him. So, is everyone at least 6 feet tall?
The big kicker is when he fights Hercules. Hercules is supposed to be demigod as well, right? For awhile he lived as a human until he learned of his divinity. So how tall is Hercules? He has to be at least 10 foot tall, so what is Kratos only being 8 foot tall? Well, this can be explained by the fact that Hercules' mother is the granddaughter of Perseus, making him slightly more God-like then Kratos. I would still feel a little cheated though.
5 Forget P90x
One look at Kratos might make many men jealous of his ripped physique. However, you too can have the body of Kratos by following one of the many "Kratos Workouts" that people have created. We do warn you that these workouts are grueling, but with the addition of running, you could have the strength and endurance of a Spartan warrior. Of course, there is more to a healthy lifestyle than just exercise, as eating well, and limiting nicotine and drinking will also help out a lot. Obviously, as a God, Kratos does not seem to eat at all and has little time for partyingm as his life is always one fight to the next.
Could you imagine Kratos doing dips on a minotaur?
To make a point, there is a big difference between being buff and being healthy, so please only take things to your own level. However, if you think it is healthy to not exercise and eat junk, even if you are not gaining weight, you are mistaken. So let us all get out there and slay some monsters! What do you say? Ok, so there are no monsters to fight, but maybe join a boxing gym?
4 It's All Down Hill
Getting older and losing that once perfect physique is inevitable. Even Hollywood stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger have tried their best to stop the hand of time and, while Arnold is still in great shape, without a shirt on he is not quite the man he used to be. Just like with Kratos, as he is still in great shape but time will always work against your fitness. As your skin loses elasticity and your body begins to ache, you will long for your twenties again. We are unsure just how long Kratos will live for, but one thing is sure he has lost a step from his prime.
As we see in the opening moments of the newest God of War, Kratos still has the strength to chop down the tree he is hacking at. As a young man/God, he could have tackled the tree over if he felt like it. It is nice to see a much more human side of Kratos since the previous game showed us that he does indeed have a caring and human side to him. We will not spoil the game any more, but there are times where his age is catching up to him.
3 Why Use Your Hands?
One pretty interesting thing we have found in our research is that as the games go on, Kratos gets much less hands on. In the first game, we saw him grabbing enemies and throwing them around. As he became more accustomed to the Blades of Chaos, he will use them instead of his hands. Perhaps even as a God, his hands ache with his endless war against Zeus or maybe it is just to save time. Either way, the weapons seem to become part of him, as he almost always uses them over the other weapons in his arsenal.
Maybe he just likes the flash of the Blades over his Cestus.
No matter what weapon you preferred in the games, he is using the blades for almost every cutscene and quick time event. This proves that his oldest weapon is the one he is most comfortable with. Even in the newest game, he goes back to get them in order to make sure he can protect his son in the adventure. Let us just hope that with all the wild swings, he doesn't accidentally hit young Atreus.
2 Like Riding A Bike
If you have ever done anything that takes a certain amount of careful deliberation, you might know about something called muscle memory. Whether you play sports, shoot guns or build models, you will know all about this. When you do something over and over, your body will remember that you do these things and eventually you can do them without thinking. With the expert handling of his weapons, especially the Blades of Chaos, you can bet he can defeat most enemies with little to no effort. This is partly where the expression "it is like riding a bike" comes from, which means once you have done it once, you will always remember how to do it.
When Kratos recovers his Blades in the newest game, we see this very thing in action. He has used the Blades of Chaos for so long that even after abandoning them for years, he can pick them up and fight with the best of them. Sure, he isn't as spry as he used to be and perhaps his back hurts, but those combos take skill. A skill that has embedded itself within him that will never go away.
1 You Won't Like Him When He's Angry
If you have ever played a God of War game you will be familiar with the concept of Kratos' Rage Ability. So what, does it mean? Well, when you get angry or desperate, your body can become stronger. The reason for this is adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone your body gives you in stressful situations that increase your breathing, blood pressure and metabolism. This is because the body is preparing for your muscles to be working overtime, which can cause a huge increase in strength, stamina, and awareness. It is produced in fight or flight moments and since we know that Kratos never runs, it is going to be for the fight. Ah, explaining away the meta in gaming with science.
In the games, this is not something that you get at the beginning of the fight, but normally towards the middle or end as the ability charges up. Sadly it is not possible to just tell your body to make more adrenaline when you need it. Perhaps Kratos can, however, since he is a demigod, but there is no real explanation for why he can do this beyond that he is very angry. We might be overthinking this, but it's still fun to think about.