Mars In Roman mythology, god of war, originally an ancient Italian god who watched over agriculture; identified by the Romans with the Greek war god Ares. Mars was the son of Jupiter and father of Romulus (Quirinus) by Rhea Silvia. March, the first month of the old Roman year, was dedicated to Mars as the fertilizing god of spring. Mars was invoked, along with the goddess Dea Dia, to bless the fields during a festival in May. As god of war Mars was called Gradivus (the strider) because of his rapid march in battle. His symbols were the wolf, woodpecker, and lance. When war broke out, the cry was Mars vigila! (Mars awake!). Numerous sacrifices were offered to Mars and warlike exercises, Equirria, were held in his honor on 27 February, 14 March, and 15 October. On the last day a horse was sacrificed on his altar in the Campus Martius (field of Mars), a plain lying to the north of Rome, outside the Pomerium, between the Tiber, the Quirinal, and the Capitoline Hills. The blood of the horse was collected and preserved in the temple of Vesta and used at the Palilia for the purposes of purification. Mar’s cult had a special priest, the flamen martialis, and a group of Salci (dancers). During Mars’s feast in March the Salci sang, danced, and beat their shields with staves. Augustus honored Mars as Mars Vitor (avenger of Caesar) in a temple erected in 2 b.c.e. Mars was the patron god of pagan Florence, later replaced by St. John the Baptist, whose church is believed to stand on the spot where Mars’s temple originally stood. Dante’s Divine Comedy (Inferno 13; Paradise 16) cites the legend that the statue of Mars, hidden in the Arno tower, had to be restored before Florence could be rebuilt. Western paintings depicting Mars usually portray his love affair with Venus. Botticelli, Piero di Cosimo, Tintoretto, Veronese, Poussin, and David have all treated the subject.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow-Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
As the father of Romulus, Mars is literally considered the father of Rome. He is an ancient spirit who was venerated throughout the region, possibly originally by the Etruscans. His name is not of Indo-European derivation. Although now most famous as the lord of war, in his earliest incarnation he was a spirit of agricultural fertility and an aggressive, protective guardian of fields and boundaries.
An old Roman prayer requests that Mars banish visible and invisible ailments, trouble, disasters, and inclement weather.
His associations with war came to the fore when he later became intensely identified with the Greek war spirit Ares—and when Rome emerged as a military power. Martial, a synonym for warlike, derives from his name (martial arts, martial plan, martial law). A society of priests dedicated to him opened and closed the military calendar with martial dances. Mars is a spirit of prophesy: spears housed in his shrine provided an oracle via their spontaneous movement. They were understood as the voice of Mars himself.
Mars presided over Rome’s conquest of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. He was the favourite deity of Roman soldiers who carried him wherever they conquered. He became very popular in Gaul, now mainly modern France, however here, as in other Celtic regions, Mars’ associations with healing, fertility, and protection were emphasized, possibly because of ambivalence toward the Roman occupation. Mars is a warrior against illness, sterility, and death. Veneration of Mars may survive in veneration of Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Maurice.
Also known as:
Mamers; Marmar; Marmor; Mavors; Maris
Farmers, soldiers, mercenaries and those born under the zodiac sun signs Aries and Scorpio, as well as those born in March.
In ancient days, Mars was venerated in the form of a spear. This is recalled in the form of his glyph which now also serves as a universal symbol for the male gender: ♂.
Vacuna, Vitula, Venus
Wolf, horse, bull, boar, ram
Tuesday (in French: Mardi)
Fig, bay laurel, dogwood, oak
1 March, Rome’s original New Year’s Day prior to calendar reformation, is his birthday. He is venerated alongside his mother, Juno. Other festivals include 27 February, 14 March, 17 March, 19 March, 23 March, 1 October, 15 October, and 19 October.
• His temple on Rome’s Palatine Hill.
• Rome’s Field of Mars (Campus Martius).
• Paris’ Field of Mars (Champ de Mars).
• The site of his Gallic temple in Boulogne Sur-Mer is now the largest crypt in France, housing the tomb of Ida of the Ardennes, mother of Crusader king Godefroy of Bouillon.
- Roman Mythology
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.