Mars is the god of war as per the Roman mythology. He was an agricultural guardian. He was among the most prominent Roman gods, second only to Jupiter. Did you know that the term “Martial Arts” is derived from “Mars”? The god of war, Mars was identified as strong, clever, masculine, moody and vain. He was considered the protector of Rome. Read more interesting facts about Mars – the Roman God.
Depiction, duties and symbols
Mars is depicted as a warrior with a helmet and a cuirass standing in a “martial” pose. He holds the lance in his right hand and the shield in his left hand.
As per the legend, his shield was called “the Ancile”. It fell from his hand during the rule of Pompilius. It was believed that this shield protected Rome from disasters like the plague. To save the shield from thieves, 11 copies of the shield were made. These shields are an important symbol of Mars and were kept in the Temples of Mars.
Certain animals are considered sacred to Mars. These include wolf, woodpecker, and bear. The woodpecker is symbolic of strength and courage since it can cut an entire oak tree with its beak.
Some other symbols of Mars include a burning torch, a dog, a vulture, an eagle, and an owl.
Connection with Greek god Ares
Under Greek influence, Mars was associated with Ares. Ares, the Greek god of war was the son of Zeus and Hera. Ares was more restricted to battles and destruction, however, Mars was known for strategy and wisdom during battles as well as agriculture.
Ares was treated with contempt in Greek mythology. Ares’ affair with Aphrodite is ridiculed in Greek mythology, while the affair of Venus and Mars was admired by the Romans.
Mars in Roman mythology
Mars is the son of Jupiter (King of gods) and Juno (Queen of gods). In another myth, Mars was the son of Juno only. She was impregnated by a magical flower.
Mars was married to Nerio, the war goddess. She represented valor and was the partner of Mars in various cult practices. She was often associated with Bellona and even goddess Minerva.
Initially, Mars was the god of fertility and agriculture. As the Roman Empire began to expand, Mars became associated with battles. Soon, he was also associated with the Greek god, Ares.
Mars had twin children, Romulus and Remus.
Mars’ children Romulus and Remus are the founders of Rome. And for this reason, it is believed that all the Romans are descendants of Mars.
Festivals and worship
Ancient Romans held Mars’ festival on March 1. March is the first month of the Roman calendar. In February and March, horse races were held to mark the beginning of the year. It is believed that Romulus started the ceremony of races.
And on October 19th, Armilustrium was celebrated during which the arms of the soldiers were cleaned and saved for winter.