|Symbol||The spear of Mars ♂ (Spear and shield iconography)|
|Consort||Nerio and others like Rhea Silvia, Venus, Bellona|
|Children||Romulus and Remus|
|Parents||Jupiter and Juno|
|Siblings||Vulcan, Minerva, Hercules, Bellona, Apollo, Diana, Bacchus, etc.|
|Etruscan equivalent||possibly Maris|
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars (Latin : Mārs, [maːrs] ) was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. "Roman mythology" may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period.
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.
Jupiter, also known as Jove, was the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as offering, or sacrifice.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares,whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom, as a guardian of the Roman people, had no Greek equivalent. Mars' altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome. Although the center of Mars' worship was originally located outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium), Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum.
Hellenization or Hellenisation is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion and, to a lesser extent, language, over foreign peoples conquered by Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence, particularly during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. The result of Hellenization was that elements of Greek origin combined in various forms and degrees with local elements; these Greek influences spread from the Mediterranean basin as far east as modern-day Pakistan. In modern times, Hellenization has been associated with the adoption of modern Greek culture and the ethnic and cultural homogenization of Greece.
Interpretatio graeca or "interpretation by means of Greek [models]" is a discourse used to interpret or attempt to understand the mythology and religion of other cultures; a comparative methodology using ancient Greek religious concepts and practices, deities, and myths, equivalencies, and shared characteristics.
Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome's founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who "founded" Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.
The Pax Romana was a long period of peace and stability experienced by the early Roman Empire. It is traditionally dated as commencing from the accession of Caesar Augustus, founder of the Roman principate, in 27 BC and concluding in 180 AD with the death of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the "good emperors". Since it was inaugurated by Augustus with the end of the Final War of the Roman Republic, it is sometimes called the Pax Augusta. During this period of approximately 207 years, the Roman empire achieved its greatest territorial extent and its population reached a maximum of up to 70 million people – a third of the world’s population. According to Cassius Dio, the dictatorial reign of Commodus, later followed by the Year of the Five Emperors and the crisis of the third century, marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust".
Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives. Although generally used interchangeably, strictly speaking, "genealogy" begins with a person who is usually deceased and traces his or her descendants forward in time, whereas, "family history" begins with a person who is usually living and traces his or her ancestors.
The tale of the Founding of Rome is recounted in traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves as the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, twins who were suckled by a she-wolf as infants in the 8th century BC. Another account, set earlier in time, claims that the Roman people are descended from Trojan War hero Aeneas, who escaped to Italy after the war, and whose son, Iulus, was the ancestor of the family of Julius Caesar. The archaeological evidence of human occupation of the area of modern-day Rome, Italy dates from about 14,000 years ago.
The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers. Specifically excluded from epigraphy are the historical significance of an epigraph as a document and the artistic value of a literary composition.
The Roman provinces were the lands and people outside of Rome itself that were controlled by the Republic and later the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman who was appointed as governor. Although different in many ways, they were similar to the states in Australia or the United States, the regions in the United kingdom or New Zealand, or the prefectures in Japan. Canada refers to some of its territory as provinces.
Mars may ultimately be a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos, having originally a thunderer character.At least etymological Etruscan predecessors are present in Maris, though this is not universally agreed upon.
The name of an Proto-Indo-European god of thunder and the oak may be reconstructed as *perkwunos or *perkunos.
Maris was an Etruscan god often depicted as an infant or child and given many epithets, including Mariś Halna, Mariś Husrnana, and Mariś Isminthians. He was the son of Hercle, the Etruscan equivalent of Heracles. On two bronze mirrors, Maris appears in scenes depicting an immersion rite to ensure his immortality, possibly connected to stories about the centaur Mares, the ancestor of the Ausones, who underwent a triple death and resurrection.
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|Practices and beliefs|
Like Ares who was the son of Zeus and Hera,Mars is usually considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno. However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone. Jupiter had usurped the mother's function when he gave birth to Minerva directly from his forehead (or mind); to restore the balance, Juno sought the advice of the goddess Flora on how to do the same. Flora obtained a magic flower (Latin flos, plural flores, a masculine word) and tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once. She then plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno's belly, and impregnated her. Juno withdrew to Thrace and the shore of Marmara for the birth.
Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra and Thor.
Hera is the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth in ancient Greek religion and myth, one of the Twelve Olympians and the sister-wife of Zeus. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera rules over Mount Olympus as queen of the gods. A matronly figure, Hera served as both the patroness and protectress of married women, presiding over weddings and blessing marital unions. One of Hera's defining characteristics is her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus' numerous lovers and illegitimate offspring, as well as the mortals who cross her.
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. A daughter of Saturn, she is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars, Vulcan, Bellona and Juventas. She is the Roman equivalent of Hera, queen of the gods in Greek mythology; like Hera, her sacred animal was the peacock. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, and she was said to also watch over the women of Rome. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina ("Queen") and was a member of the Capitoline Triad, centered on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; it consisted of her, Jupiter, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom.
Ovid tells this story in the Fasti , his long-form poetic work on the Roman calendar.It may explain why the Matronalia, a festival celebrated by married women in honor of Juno as a goddess of childbirth, occurred on the first day of Mars' month, which is also marked on a calendar from late antiquity as the birthday of Mars. In the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, and the god would have been born with the new year. Ovid is the only source for the story. He may be presenting a literary myth of his own invention, or an otherwise unknown archaic Italic tradition; either way, in choosing to include the story, he emphasizes that Mars was connected to plant life and was not alienated from female nurture.
The consort of Mars was Nerio or Neriene, "Valor." She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars.Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, "manly virtue" (from vir, "man"). In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Neriene were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Neriene came to be identified with Minerva.
Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars' power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as "marriages."
The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus (whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan) caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not originally part of the Roman tradition, in 217 BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium , a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.
Scenes of Venus and Mars in Roman art often ignore the adulterous implications of their union, and take pleasure in the good-looking couple attended by Cupid or multiple Loves (amores). Some scenes may imply marriage,and the relationship was romanticized in funerary or domestic art in which husbands and wives had themselves portrayed as the passionate divine couple.
The uniting of deities representing Love and War lent itself to allegory, especially since the lovers were the parents of Concordia.[ citation needed ] The Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino notes that "only Venus dominates Mars, and he never dominates her". In ancient Roman and Renaissance art, Mars is often shown disarmed and relaxed, or even sleeping, but the extramarital nature of their affair can also suggest that this peace is impermanent.
Virility as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars. – but ideally, war that delivers a secure peace.[ citation needed ]As an agricultural guardian, he directs his energies toward creating conditions that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of nature. As an embodiment of masculine aggression, he is the force that drives wars
The priesthood of the Arval Brothers called on Mars to drive off "rust" (lues), with its double meaning of wheat fungus and the red oxides that affect metal, a threat to both iron farm implements and weaponry. In the surviving text of their hymn, the Arval Brothers invoked Mars as ferus, "savage" or "feral" like a wild animal.
Mars' potential for savagery is expressed in his obscure connections to the wild woodlands, and he may even have originated as a god of the wild, beyond the boundaries set by humans, and thus a force to be propitiated.In his book on farming, Cato invokes Mars Silvanus for a ritual to be carried out in silva, in the woods, an uncultivated place that if not held within bounds can threaten to overtake the fields needed for crops. Mars' character as an agricultural god may derive solely from his role as a defender and protector, or may be inseparable from his warrior nature, as the leaping of his armed priests the Salii was meant to quicken the growth of crops.
It appears that Mars was originally a thunderer or storm deity, which explains some of his mixed traits in regards to fertility.This role was later taken in the Roman pantheon by several other gods, such as Summanus or Jupiter.
The wild animals most sacred to Mars were the woodpecker, the wolf, and the bear, which in the natural lore of the Romans were said always to inhabit the same foothills and woodlands.
Plutarch notes that the woodpecker (picus) is sacred to Mars because "it is a courageous and spirited bird and has a beak so strong that it can overturn oaks by pecking them until it has reached the inmost part of the tree."As the beak of the picus Martius contained the god's power to ward off harm, it was carried as a magic charm to prevent bee stings and leech bites. The bird of Mars also guarded a woodland herb (paeonia) used for treatment of the digestive or female reproductive systems; those who sought to harvest it were advised to do so by night, lest the woodpecker jab out their eyes. The picus Martius seems to have been a particular species, but authorities differ on which one: perhaps Picus viridis or Dryocopus martius .
The woodpecker was revered by the Latin peoples, who abstained from eating its flesh.It was one of the most important birds in Roman and Italic augury, the practice of reading the will of the gods through watching the sky for signs. The mythological figure named Picus had powers of augury that he retained when he was transformed into a woodpecker; in one tradition, Picus was the son of Mars. The Umbrian cognate peiqu also means "woodpecker," and the Italic Picenes were supposed to have derived their name from the picus who served as their guide animal during a ritual migration (ver sacrum) undertaken as a rite of Mars. In the territory of the Aequi, another Italic people, Mars had an oracle of great antiquity where the prophecies were supposed to be spoken by a woodpecker perched on a wooden column.
Mars' association with the wolf is familiar from what may be the most famous of Roman myths, the story of how a she-wolf (lupa) suckled his infant sons when they were exposed by order of King Amulius, who feared them because he had usurped the throne from their grandfather, Numitor.The woodpecker also brought nourishment to the twins.
The wolf appears elsewhere in Roman art and literature in masculine form as the animal of Mars. A statue group that stood along the Appian Way showed Mars in the company of wolves.At the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC, the appearance of the wolf of Mars (Martius lupus) was a sign that Roman victory was to come.
In Roman Gaul, the goose was associated with the Celtic forms of Mars, and archaeologists have found geese buried alongside warriors in graves. The goose was considered a bellicose animal because it is easily provoked to aggression.
Ancient Greek and Roman religion distinguished between animals that were sacred to a deity and those that were prescribed as the correct sacrificial offerings for the god. Wild animals might be viewed as already belonging to the god to whom they were sacred, or at least not owned by human beings and therefore not theirs to give. Since sacrificial meat was eaten at a banquet after the gods received their portion – mainly the entrails (exta) – it follows that the animals sacrificed were most often, though not always, domestic animals normally part of the Roman diet. Gods often received castrated male animals as sacrifices, and the goddesses female victims; Mars, however, regularly received intact males. Mars did receive oxen under a few of his cult titles, such as Mars Grabovius, but the usual offering was the bull, singly, in multiples, or in combination with other animals.[ citation needed ]
The two most distinctive animal sacrifices made to Mars were the suovetaurilia , a triple offering of a pig (sus), ram (ovis) and bull (taurus),and the October Horse, the only horse sacrifice known to have been carried out in ancient Rome and a rare instance of a victim the Romans considered inedible.
The earliest center in Rome for cultivating Mars as a deity was the Altar of Mars (Ara Martis) in the Campus Martius ("Field of Mars") outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium). The Romans thought that this altar had been established by the semi-legendary Numa Pompilius, the peace-loving successor of Romulus.According to Roman tradition, the Campus Martius had been consecrated to Mars by their ancestors to serve as horse pasturage and an equestrian training ground for youths. During the Roman Republic (509–27 BC), the Campus was a largely open expanse. No temple was built at the altar, but from 193 BC a covered walkway connected it to the Porta Fontinalis, near the office and archives of the Roman censors. Newly elected censors placed their curule chairs by the altar, and when they had finished conducting the census, the citizens were collectively purified with a suovetaurilia there. A frieze from the so-called "Altar" of Domitius Ahenobarbus is thought to depict the census, and may show Mars himself standing by the altar as the procession of victims advances.
The main Temple of Mars (Aedes Martis) in the Republican period also lay outside the sacred boundary[ where? ] and was devoted to the god's warrior aspect. It was built to fulfill a vow (votum) made by a Titus Quinctius in 388 BC during the Gallic siege of Rome. The founding day (dies natalis) was commemorated on June 1, and the temple is attested by several inscriptions and literary sources. The sculpture group of Mars and the wolves was displayed there. Soldiers sometimes assembled at the temple before heading off to war, and it was the point of departure for a major parade of Roman cavalry held annually on July 15.
A temple to Mars in the Circus Flaminius was built around 133 BC, funded by Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus from war booty. It housed a colossal statue of Mars and a nude Venus.
The Campus Martius continued to provide venues for equestrian events such as chariot racing during the Imperial period, but under the first emperor Augustus it underwent a major program of urban renewal, marked by monumental architecture. The Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis Augustae) was located there, as was the Obelisk of Montecitorio, imported from Egypt to form the pointer (gnomon) of the Solarium Augusti, a giant sundial. With its public gardens, the Campus became one of the most attractive places in the city to visit.
Augustus chose the Campus Martius as the site of his new Temple to Mars Ultor[ clarification needed ], a manifestation of Mars he cultivated as the avenger (ultor) of the murder of Julius Caesar and of the military disaster suffered at the Battle of Carrhae. When the legionary standards lost to the Parthians were recovered, they were housed in the new temple. The date of the temple's dedication on May 12 was aligned with the heliacal setting of the constellation Scorpio, the sign of war. The date continued to be marked with circus games as late as the mid-4th century AD.
A large statue of Mars was part of the short-lived Arch of Nero, which was built in 62 AD but dismantled after Nero's suicide and disgrace (damnatio memoriae).
In Roman art, Mars is depicted as either bearded and mature, or young and clean-shaven. Even nude or seminude, he often wears a helmet or carries a spear as emblems of his warrior nature. Mars was among the deities to appear on the earliest Roman coinage in the late 4th and early 3rd century BC.
On the Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis), built in the last years of the 1st century BC, Mars is a mature man with a "handsome, classicizing" face, and a short curly beard and moustache. His helmet is a plumed neo-Attic-type. He wears a military cloak (paludamentum) and a cuirass ornamented with a gorgoneion. Although the relief is somewhat damaged at this spot, he appears to hold a spear garlanded in laurel, symbolizing a peace that is won by military victory. The 1st-century statue of Mars found in the Forum of Nerva (pictured at top) is similar. In this guise, Mars is presented as the dignified ancestor of the Roman people. The panel of the Ara Pacis on which he appears would have faced the Campus Martius, reminding viewers that Mars was the god whose altar Numa established there, that is, the god of Rome's oldest civic and military institutions.
Particularly in works of art influenced by the Greek tradition, Mars may be portrayed in a manner that resembles Ares, youthful, beardless, and often nude.In the Renaissance, Mars' nudity was thought to represent his lack of fear in facing danger.
The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle.A relic or fetish called the spear of Mars was kept in a sacrarium at the Regia, the former residence of the Kings of Rome. The spear was said to move, tremble or vibrate at impending war or other danger to the state, as was reported to occur before the assassination of Julius Caesar. When Mars is pictured as a peace-bringer, his spear is wreathed with laurel or other vegetation, as on the Ara Pacis or a coin of Aemilianus.
The high priest of Mars in Roman public religion was the Flamen Martialis, who was one of the three major priests in the fifteen-member college of flamens. Mars was also served by the Salii, a twelve-member priesthood of patrician youths who dressed as archaic warriors and danced in procession around the city in March. Both priesthoods extend to the earliest periods of Roman history, and patrician birth was required.
The festivals of Mars cluster in his namesake month of March (Latin: Martius ), with a few observances in October, the beginning and end of the season for military campaigning and agriculture. Festivals with horse racing took place in the Campus Martius. Some festivals in March retained characteristics of new year festivals, since Martius was originally the first month of the Roman calendar.[ citation needed ]
Mars was also honored by chariot races at the Robigalia and Consualia, though these festivals are not primarily dedicated to him. From 217 BC onward, Mars was among the gods honored at the lectisternium, a banquet given for deities who were present as images.[ citation needed ]
Roman hymns (carmina) are rarely preserved, but Mars is invoked in two. The Arval Brothers, or "Brothers of the Fields," chanted a hymn to Mars while performing their three-step dance.The Carmen Saliare was sung by Mars' priests the Salii while they moved twelve sacred shields (ancilia) throughout the city in a procession. In the 1st century AD, Quintilian remarks that the language of the Salian hymn was so archaic that it was no longer fully understood.
The word Mārs (genitive Mārtis), [ citation needed ]which in Old Latin and poetic usage also appears as Māvors (Māvortis), is cognate with Oscan Māmers (Māmertos). The Old Latin form was believed to derive from an Italic *Māworts, but can also be explained as deriving from Maris, the name of an Etruscan child-god; scholars have varying views on whether the two gods are related, and if so how. Latin adjectives from the name of Mars are martius and martialis, from which derive English "martial" (as in "martial arts" or "martial law") and personal names such as "Martin".
Mars also gave his name to the third month in the Roman calendar, Martius , from which English "March" derives. In the most ancient Roman calendar, Martius was the first month. The planet Mars was named for him, and in some allegorical and philosophical writings, the planet and the god are endowed with shared characteristics.In many languages, Tuesday is named for the planet Mars or the god of war: In Latin, martis dies ("Mars's Day"), survived in Romance languages as martes (Spanish), mardi (French), martedi (Italian), marţi (Romanian), and dimarts (Catalan). In Irish (Gaelic), the day is An Mháirt, while in Albanian it is e Marta. The English word Tuesday derives from Old English "Tiwesdæg" and means "Tiw's Day", Tiw being the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic war god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse.
In Classical Roman religion, Mars was invoked under several titles, and the first Roman emperor Augustus thoroughly integrated Mars into Imperial cult. The 4th-century Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus treats Mars as one of several classical Roman deities who remained "cultic realities" up to his own time.Mars, and specifically Mars Ultor, was among the gods who received sacrifices from Julian, the only emperor to reject Christianity after the conversion of Constantine I. In 363 AD, in preparation for the Siege of Ctesiphon, Julian sacrificed ten "very fine" bulls to Mars Ultor. The tenth bull violated ritual protocol by attempting to break free, and when killed and examined, produced ill omens, among the many that were read at the end of Julian's reign. As represented by Ammianus, Julian swore never to make sacrifice to Mars again—a vow kept with his death a month later.
Gradivus was one of the gods by whom a general or soldiers might swear an oath to be valorous in battle.His temple outside the Porta Capena was where armies gathered. The archaic priesthood of Mars Gradivus was the Salii , the "leaping priests" who danced ritually in armor as a prelude to war. His cult title is most often taken to mean "the Strider" or "the Marching God," from gradus, "step, march."
The poet Statius addresses him as "the most implacable of the gods,"but Valerius Maximus concludes his history by invoking Mars Gradivus as "author and support of the name 'Roman'": Gradivus is asked – along with Capitoline Jupiter and Vesta, as the keeper of Rome's perpetual flame – to "guard, preserve, and protect" the state of Rome, the peace, and the princeps (the emperor Tiberius at the time).
A source from Late Antiquity says that the wife of Gradivus was Nereia, the daughter of Nereus, and that he loved her passionately.
Mars Quirinus was the protector of the Quirites ("citizens" or "civilians") as divided into curiae (citizen assemblies), whose oaths were required to make a treaty.As a guarantor of treaties, Mars Quirinus is thus a god of peace: "When he rampages, Mars is called Gradivus, but when he's at peace Quirinus."
The deified Romulus was identified with Mars Quirinus. In the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus, however, Mars and Quirinus were two separate deities, though not perhaps in origin. Each of the three had his own flamen (specialized priest), but the functions of the Flamen Martialis and Flamen Quirinalis are hard to distinguish.
Mars is invoked as Grabovius in the Iguvine Tablets, bronze tablets written in Umbrian that record ritual protocols for carrying out public ceremonies on behalf of the city and community of Iguvium. The same title is given to Jupiter and to the Umbrian deity Vofionus. This triad has been compared to the Archaic Triad, with Vofionus equivalent to Quirinus.Tables I and VI describe a complex ritual that took place at the three gates of the city. After the auspices were taken, two groups of three victims were sacrificed at each gate. Mars Grabovius received three oxen.
"Father Mars" or "Mars the Father" is the form in which the god is invoked in the agricultural prayer of Cato,and he appears with this title in several other literary texts and inscriptions. Mars Pater is among the several gods invoked in the ritual of devotio , by means of which a general sacrificed himself and the lives of the enemy to secure a Roman victory.
Father Mars is the regular recipient of the suovetaurilia , the sacrifice of a pig (sus), ram (ovis) and bull (taurus), or often a bull alone.To Mars Pater other epithets were sometimes appended, such as Mars Pater Victor ("Father Mars the Victorious"), to whom the Roman army sacrificed a bull on March 1.
Although pater and mater were fairly common as honorifics for a deity,any special claim for Mars as father of the Roman people lies in the mythic genealogy that makes him the divine father of Romulus and Remus.
In the section of his farming book that offers recipes and medical preparations, Cato describes a votum to promote the health of cattle:
Make an offering to Mars Silvanus in the forest (in silva) during the daytime for each head of cattle: 3 pounds of meal, 4½ pounds of bacon, 4½ pounds of meat, and 3 pints of wine. You may place the viands in one vessel, and the wine likewise in one vessel. Either a slave or a free man may make this offering. After the ceremony is over, consume the offering on the spot at once. A woman may not take part in this offering or see how it is performed. You may vow the vow every year if you wish.
That Mars Silvanus is a single entity has been doubted. Invocations of deities are often list-like, without connecting words, and the phrase should perhaps be understood as "Mars and Silvanus".Women were explicitly excluded from some cult practices of Silvanus, but not necessarily of Mars. William Warde Fowler, however, thought that the wild god of the wood Silvanus may have been "an emanation or offshoot" of Mars.
Augustus created the cult of "Mars the Avenger" to mark two occasions: his defeat of the assassins of Caesar at Philippi in 42 BC, and the negotiated return of the Roman battle standards that had been lost to the Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.The god is depicted wearing a cuirass and helmet and standing in a "martial pose," leaning on a lance he holds in his right hand. He holds a shield in his left hand. The goddess Ultio, a divine personification of vengeance, had an altar and golden statue in his temple.
The Temple of Mars Ultor, dedicated in 2 BC in the center of the Forum of Augustus, gave the god a new place of honor.Some rituals previously conducted within the cult of Capitoline Jupiter were transferred to the new temple, which became the point of departure for magistrates as they left for military campaigns abroad. Augustus required the Senate to meet at the temple when deliberating questions of war and peace. The temple also became the site at which sacrifice was made to conclude the rite of passage of young men assuming the toga virilis ("man's toga") around age 14.
On various Imperial holidays, Mars Ultor was the first god to receive a sacrifice, followed by the Genius of the emperor.An inscription from the 2nd century records a vow to offer Mars Ultor a bull with gilded horns.
Augustus or Augusta was appended far and wide, "on monuments great and small,"to the name of gods or goddesses, including Mars. The honorific marks the affiliation of a deity with Imperial cult. In Hispania, many of the statues and dedications to Mars Augustus were presented by members of the priesthood or sodality called the Sodales Augustales . These vows (vota) were usually fulfilled within a sanctuary of Imperial cult, or in a temple or precinct ( templum ) consecrated specifically to Mars. As with other deities invoked as Augustus, altars to Mars Augustus might be set up to further the well-being ( salus ) of the emperor, but some inscriptions suggest personal devotion. An inscription in the Alps records the gratitude of a slave who dedicated a statue to Mars Augustus as conservator corporis sui, the preserver of his own body, said to have been vowed ex iussu numinis ipsius, "by the order of the numen himself".
Mars Augustus appears in inscriptions at sites throughout the Empire, such as Hispania Baetica, Saguntum,and Emerita (Lusitania) in Roman Spain; Leptis Magna (with a date of 6–7 AD) in present-day Libya; and Sarmizegetusa in the province of Dacia.
In addition to his cult titles at Rome, Mars appears in a large number of inscriptions in the provinces of the Roman Empire, and more rarely in literary texts, identified with a local deity by means of an epithet. Mars appears with great frequency in Gaul among the Continental Celts, as well as in Roman Spain and Britain. In Celtic settings, he is often invoked as a healer.The inscriptions indicate that Mars' ability to dispel the enemy on the battlefield was transferred to the sick person's struggle against illness; healing is expressed in terms of warding off and rescue.
Mars is identified with a number of Celtic deities, some of whom are not attested independently.
"Mars Balearicus" is a name used in modern scholarship for small bronze warrior figures from Majorca (one of the Balearic Islands) that are interpreted as representing the local Mars cult.These statuettes have been found within talayotic sanctuaries with extensive evidence of burnt offerings. "Mars" is fashioned as a lean, athletic nude lifting a lance and wearing a helmet, often conical; the genitals are perhaps semi-erect in some examples.
Other bronzes at the sites represent the heads or horns of bulls, but the bones in the ash layers indicate that sheep, goats, and pigs were the sacrificial victims. Bronze horse-hooves were found in one sanctuary. Another site held an imported statue of Imhotep, the legendary Egyptian physician. These sacred precincts were still in active use when the Roman occupation began in 123 BC. They seem to have been astronomically oriented toward the rising or setting of the constellation Centaurus.
Silvanus was a Roman tutelary deity of woods and fields. As protector of the forest, he especially presided over plantations and delighted in trees growing wild. He is also described as a god watching over the fields and husbandmen, protecting in particular the boundaries of fields. The similarly named Etruscan deity Selvans may be a borrowing of Silvanus, or not even related in origin.
In ancient Roman religion,Fontus or Fons was a god of wells and springs. A religious festival called the Fontinalia was held on October 13 in his honor. Throughout the city, fountains and wellheads were adorned with garlands.
In the Celtic polytheism of classical antiquity, Grannus was a deity associated with spas, healing thermal and mineral springs, and the sun. He was regularly identified with Apollo as Apollo Grannus. He was frequently worshipped in conjunction with Sirona, and sometimes with Mars and other deities.
A tutelary is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concept of safety, and thus of guardianship.
A flamen was a priest of the ancient Roman religion who was assigned to one of fifteen deities with official cults during the Roman Republic. The most important three were the flamines maiores, who served the important Roman gods Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus. The remaining twelve were the flamines minores. Two of the minores cultivated deities whose names are now unknown; among the others are deities about whom little is known other than the name. During the Imperial era, the cult of a deified emperor (divus) also had a flamen.
The Campus Martius was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about 2 square kilometres in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV rione of Rome, Campo Marzio, which covers a smaller section of the original area, bears the same name.
The Robigalia was a festival in ancient Roman religion held April 25, named for the god Robigus. Its main ritual was a dog sacrifice to protect grain fields from disease. Games (ludi) in the form of "major and minor" races were held. The Robigalia was one of several agricultural festivals in April to celebrate and vitalize the growing season, but the darker sacrificial elements of these occasions are also fraught with anxiety about crop failure and the dependence on divine favor to avert it.
Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature. The deity's name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.
Ultio ("Vengeance") was an ancient Roman goddess whose cultus was associated with Mars. An altar and golden statue of Ultio were set up in the Temple of Mars Ultor, dedicated by Augustus in 2 BC as a center for cultivating Mars the Avenger.
Tutela was the ancient Roman concept of "guardianship", conceived of as a goddess in the Imperial period, and from the earliest period as a functional role that various tutelary deities might play, particularly Juno. Tutela had particular applications in Roman law.
The Aventine Triad is a modern term for the joint cult of the Roman deities Ceres, Liber and Libera. The cult was established ca. 493 BC within a sacred district (templum) on or near the Aventine Hill, traditionally associated with the Roman plebs. Later accounts describe the temple building and rites as "Greek" in style. Some modern historians describe the Aventine Triad as a plebeian parallel and self-conscious antithesis to the archaic Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus and the later Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Minerva and Juno. The Aventine Triad, temple and associated ludi served as a focus of plebeian identity, sometimes in opposition to Rome's original ruling elite, the patricians.
The Ciconiae Nixae was a landmark, or more likely two separate landmarks, in the Campus Martius of ancient Rome. In A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Lawrence Richardson regards a single site called Ciconiae Nixae as "hypothetical," noting that the subject "has long exercised topographers." The two words are juxtaposed in the regionary lists and located in Region IX near the Tiber River. The 4th-century calendar of Filocalus notes vaguely that the October Horse happened ad nixas, "at the Nixae," suggesting that the regionaries' Ciconiae ("Storks") ought to be taken as a separate entry. Inscriptional evidence also indicates that the Ciconiae was a separate landmark, and that it had to do with wine shipments brought in on the Tiber.
The Trigarium was an equestrian training ground in the northwest corner of the Campus Martius in ancient Rome. Its name was taken from the triga, a three-horse chariot.
In ancient Roman religion, the October Horse was an animal sacrifice to Mars carried out on October 15, coinciding with the end of the agricultural and military campaigning season. The rite took place during one of three horse-racing festivals held in honor of Mars, the others being the two Equirria on February 27 and March 14.
In the Roman Empire, Fortuna Redux was a form of the goddess Fortuna who oversaw a return, as from a long or perilous journey. Her attributes were Fortuna's typical cornucopia, with her specific function represented by a rudder or steering oar sometimes in conjunction with a globe.
In the religion of the Roman Empire, the Silvanae are nymphs or goddesses associated with the woodland god Silvanus. They are attested by inscriptions mainly in Pannonia, with a little more than a third of the evidence scattered in the rest of the Western Roman Empire. Elsewhere, and in Latin literature, Silvanus is accompanied by nymphs. Silvanae may be a regional preference in naming, not a form of cultic devotion distinct from the Nymphs of Silvanus. Like similar nature deities, Silvanus himself is found sometimes conceived of as plural (Silvani), and Silvani/Silvanae form a male-female complement characteristic of the Roman conception of deity.