Mars (mythology)

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Statue of Mars Ultor (The Avenger) in the Capitoline Museums in Rome (early 2nd century, originally from the Forum Transitorium )
Mars Ultor on an Antoninian by Alexander Severus , reverse side

Mars (also Mavors, Marmar, Mamers, also called Ma (r) spiter ) was one of the central gods in the ancient Italian religion, especially in Rome . He was later equated as the god of war with the Greek Ares , but differed from the latter in his greater importance and livelier cultic veneration; besides Jupiter, he is the most important Roman god. The names "Ares" and "Mars" could also be etymologically related.

Besides Rome , Mars was venerated in numerous places in Italy; the Martians even derived their name from it. In Rome, Mars formed a trinity of gods together with Jupiter and Quirinus . In the founding legend of Rome, Mars is the father of the twins Romulus and Remus and thus the progenitor of the Romans. The month of March , originally the first month of the year for the Romans, was dedicated to Mars.

Under Greek influence, mythological stories about the god were constructed analogously to Ares; accordingly he was the son of Juno ; she had passed an orchid that was fading and was pregnant with Mars.

Like Ares, Mars was considered the god of war , but certain details in his cult also suggest that he was associated with the thriving of vegetation as an agricultural deity . The Flemish Martialis was the priest of Mars in Rome ; in addition, the Salii Palatini carried out cult acts for him. At the festival of Mars (as well as of Quirinus) the dance priesthood in old war clothing went singing and dancing through Rome. Mars was originally worshiped outside the city on the field of Mars named after him ( Campus Martius ) until Augustus had a temple of Mars Ultor (the "avenger", namely on the murderers of Caesar ) built on his forum .

In March and October, processions were held in honor of Mars on the Field of Mars. There were games in his honor on May 12th and August 1st. Horses were sacrificed to him on October 15th, and cattle among the Suovetaurilia . Mars is said to have appeared in person to the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius . When going into battle, Mars was nicknamed Gradivus . The second Roman god of war, Quirinus, was later only considered to be a different form of Mars.

In the Celtic-Germanic area, Mars was identified with numerous indigenous gods. After Mars, the originally third (today second) day of the week was called Martis dies ("Mars Day"), hence the Italian martedi , French mardi and Albanian e martë . The Teutons equated him with Tiu , hence German Tuesday .

The attribute of Mars is the lance, he is also shown with a helmet and shield and sword. The sign of Mars is a circle with an arrow pointing upwards to the right, also known as the symbol of the male sex and masculinity . The wolf, bull, horse, birds of prey, vulture, rooster and woodpecker as well as grass were sacred to Mars. The Latin name Marcus means "consecrated to Mars".

The red planet Mars is named after this god. If something has a clearly warlike connection, one speaks today of " martial ", that is, "belonging to the god Mars", hence the name Martin .


Web links

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  1. Ovid , Fasti 5, 229-260 .
  2. Cf. Cato , de agri cultura 141 . where Mars is invoked during a ritual cleansing of the fields.