Mars Roman God of War and Agricultural Guardian
Equivalent of the Greek God Ares
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Mars was the Roman 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 and ended the season for military campaigning and
Example of Authentic Ancient
Severus Alexander - Roman Emperor: 222-235 A.D. -
Silver Denarius Rome mint: 225 A.D.
Reference: RIC 45; sear5 #7898; RSC 260
IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate draped bust right.
PM TR P IIII COS P P, Mars advancing right, holding spear and trophy.
Martis) 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 and ended the season for military campaigning and farming.
identified with the
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.
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
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 importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within
Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of
inscriptions identifying him with a local
deity, particularly in the
Although Ares was the son of
Hera, Mars 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.
Ovid tells this story in the
Fasti, his long-form poetic work on the
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.
consort of Mars was
Nerio or Nerine, "Valor." She represents the
vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas)
Her name was regarded as
Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin
virtus, "manly virtue" (from vir,
In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright
Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio,
A source from
late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were
celebrated together at a festival held on March 23.
In the later
Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with
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."
Venus and Mars
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
Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her
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
twelve major gods of the Roman state were
presented on couches as if present and participating.
Wall painting (mid-1st century AD) from which the House of Venus and
takes its name
Scenes of Venus and Mars in
Roman art often ignore the adulterous
implications of their union, and take pleasure in the good-looking couple
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
Harmonia. 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.
As an agricultural guardian, he directs his energies toward creating conditions
that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of
As an embodiment of masculine aggression, he is the force that drives wars – but
ideally, war that delivers a secure peace.
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
book on farming,
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.
She-wolf and twins from an altar to Venus and Mars
The two wild animals most sacred to Mars were the woodpecker and the wolf,
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
The bird of Mars also guarded a woodland herb (paeonia)
used for treatment of the
female reproductive systems; those who sought
to harvest it were advised to do so by night, lest the woodpecker jab out their
The picus Martius seems to have been a particular species, but
authorities differ on which one: perhaps
The woodpecker was revered by the
Latin peoples, who abstained from eating its
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
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
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
Roman myths, the story of how a she-wolf (lupa)
suckled his infant sons when they were
exposed by order of their human uncle, who
feared that they would take back the kingship he had
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
Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC, the appearance of
the wolf of Mars (Martius lupus) was a sign that Roman victory was to
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
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
— 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
victims; Mars, however, regularly received
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.
The two most distinctive animal sacrifices made to Mars were the
suovetaurilia, a triple offering of a pig
(sus), ram (ovis) and bull (taurus),
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.
Temples and topography
The earliest center in Rome for cultivating Mars as a deity was the Altar of
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
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
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
Roman censors. Newly elected censors placed
curule chairs by the altar, and when they had
finished conducting the census, the citizens were collectively
purified with a suovetaurilia there.
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 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,
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)
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,
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
house 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
Nero's suicide and disgrace (damnatio
Nude statue of Mars
in a garden setting, as depicted on a wall painting from
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
He wears a military cloak (paludamentum)
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
The spear of Mars
The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the
Neptune the trident, and
Saturn the scythe or sickle.
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
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
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.
Festivals and rituals
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
Mars was also honored by chariot races at the
Consualia, though these festivals are not
primarily dedicated to him. From 217 BC onward, Mars was among the gods honored
lectisternium, a banquet given for deities who
were present as images.
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.
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.
Name and epithets
Mars of Todi
late 5th–early 4th century BC), probably a warrior with hand
extended to make an offering
The word Mārs (genitive Mārtis),
Old Latin and poetic usage also appears as
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
Martius, from which English "March"
derives. In the most ancient Roman calendar, Martius was the first month.
planet Mars was named for him, and in some
allegorical and philosophical writings, the planet and the god are endowed with
In many languages,
named for the planet Mars or the war-god, in
Latin Martis Dies ("Mars' Day"), surviving in
Romance languages as Martes (Spanish),
and Dimarts (Catalan).
In Irish (Gaelic), the day is An Mháirt. The English word Tuesday
Old English "Tiwesdæg" and means "Tiw's Day",
Tiw being the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic war god *Tîwaz, or
In Roman religion
Classical Roman religion, Mars was invoked
under several titles, and the first Roman emperor Augustus thoroughly integrated
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
Mars, and specifically Mars Ultor, was among the gods who received sacrifices
Julian, the only emperor after the conversion
Constantine I to reject Christianity. 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
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."
Statius addresses him as "the most implacable
of the gods,"
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, the peace, and the
princeps (the emperor
Tiberius at the time).
A source from
late antiquity says that the wife of Gradivus
Nereia, the daughter of
Nereus, and that he loved her passionately.
Mars celebrated as peace-bringer on a Roman coin issued by
Mars Quirinus was the protector of the
Quirites ("citizens" or "civilians") as divided
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."
Romulus was identified with Mars Quirinus. In
Archaic 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
Flamen Martialis and
Flamen Quirinalis are hard to distinguish.
Mars is invoked as Grabovius in the
Iguvine Tables, 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
any special claim for Mars as father of the Roman people lies in the mythic
geneaology 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
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
Roman battle standards that had been lost to
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
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
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.
Imperial holidays, Mars Ultor was the first god
to receive a sacrifice, followed by the
Genius of the emperor.
inscription from the 2nd century records a
vow to offer Mars Ultor a bull with gilded
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
In Roman Spain (Hispania),
many of the statues and dedications to Mars Augustus were presented by members
of the priesthood or
sodality called the
These vows (vota)
were usually fulfilled within a sanctuary of Imperial cult, or in a temple or
consecrated specifically to Mars.
As with other deities invoked as Augustus, altars to Mars Augustus might
be set up to further the wellbeing (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
Mars Augustus appears in inscriptions at sites throughout the Empire,
in Roman Spain;
Lepcis Magna (with a date of 6–7 AD) in
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
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
- Mars Alator is attested in
Roman Britain by an inscription found on an
silver-gilt votive plaque that was part of
Barkway hoard from
Alator has been interpreted variously as "Huntsman" or "Cherisher".
- Mars Albiorix appears in an inscription from modern-day
Sablet, in the province of
Albiorix probably means "King of the Land" or "King of the World",
with the first element related to the geographical name
Middle Welsh elfydd, "world, land".
- Mars Barrex is attested by a single dedicatory inscription found
Barrex or Barrecis probably means "Supreme One"(Gaulish
- Mars Belatucadrus is named in five inscriptions
in the area of
The Celtic god
Belatucadros, with various spellings, is
attested independently in twenty additional inscriptions in northern
- Mars Braciaca appears in a single votive inscription at
Derbyshire.The Celtic epithet may refer to
malt or beer, though intoxication in
Greco-Roman religion is associated with Dionysus.
A reference in Pliny
suggests a connection to Mars' agricultural function, with the Gaulish word
bracis referring to a type of wheat; a medieval Latin
gloss says it was used to make beer.
A bronze Mars from Gaul
- Mars Camulus is found in five inscriptions scattered over a
fairly wide geographical area.The Celtic god
Camulos appears independently in one votive
inscription from Rome.
- Mars Cocidius is found in five inscriptions from northern
England.About twenty dedications in all are known for the Celtic god
Cocidius, mainly made by Roman military
personnel, and confined to northwest
Cumbria and along Hadrian's Wall. He is
once identified with Silvanus.He is depicted on two votive plaques as a warrior bearing shield and spear,
and on an altar as a huntsman accompanied by a dog and stag.
- Mars Condatis occurs in three inscriptions from Roman Britain.
The cult title is probably related to the place name
Condate, often used in Gaul for settlements
at the confluence of rivers.
The Celtic god
Condatis is thought to have functions
pertaining to water and healing.
- Mars Corotiacus is an equestrian Mars attested only on a votive
from Martlesham in
A bronze statuette depicts him as a cavalryman, armed and riding a horse
which tramples a prostrate enemy beneath its hooves.
- Mars Lenus, or more often
Lenus Mars, had a major healing cult at the
capital of the
Trier). Among the votives are images of
children offering doves.
Ancamna is also found with the Celtic god
- Mars Loucetius. The Celtic god
Loucetios, Latinized as -ius,
appears in nine inscriptions in present-day Germany and France and one in
Britain, and in three as Leucetius. The
theonyms likely derive from
Proto-Celtic *louk(k)et-, "bright,
shining, flashing," hence also "lightning,"
alluding to either a Celtic commonplace
metaphor between battles and thunderstorms
(Old Irish torannchless, the "thunder feat"), or the aura of a
divinized hero (the lúan of
Cú Chulainn). The name is given as an
epithet of Mars. The consort of Mars Loucetius is
Nemetona, whose name may be understood as
pertaining either to "sacred privilege" or to the
sacred grove (nemeton),
and who is also identified with the goddess
Victory. At the
Romano-British site in
Bath, a dedication to Mars Loucetius as
part of this divine couple was made by a pilgrim who had from the
Gallia Belgica to seek healing.
- Mars Mullo is invoked in two
Armorican inscriptions pertaining to
The name of the Celtic god
Mullo, which appears in a few additional
inscriptions, has been analyzed variously as "mule" and "hill, heap".
- Mars Neton or
Neto was a Celtiberian god at Acci
Guadix). According to
Macrobius, he wore a
radiant crown like a sun god, because the
passion to act with valor was a kind of heat. He may be connected to Irish
- Mars Nodens has a possible connection to the Irish mythological
Nuada. The Celtic god
Nodens was also interpreted as equivalent
to several other Roman gods, including
Mercury and Neptune. The name may have
meant "catcher", hence a fisher or hunter.
- Mars Ocelus had an altar dedicated by a junior army officer at
Caerwent, and possibly a temple. He may be
a local counterpart to Lenus.
- Mars Olloudius was depicted in a relief from Roman Britain
without armor, in the guise of a
Genius carrying a double
cornucopia and holding a libation bowl (patera).
Olloudius is found also at
Ollioules in southern Gaul.
- Mars Rigisamus is found in two inscriptions, the earliest most
likely the one at
Bourges, France) in the territory of the
At the site of a
West Coker, Somerset, he received a bronze
The Gaulish element rig- (very common at the end of names as -rix),
found in later Celtic languages as
cognate with Latin rex, "king" or
more precisely "ruler".
Rigisamos is "supreme ruler" or "king
- Mars Rigonemetis ("King of the Sacred Grove"). A dedication to
Rigonemetis and the
numen (spirit) of the Emperor inscribed on
a stone was discovered at
in 1961. Rigonemetis is only known from this site, and it seems he may have
been a god belonging to the tribe of the
- Mars Segomo. "Mars the Victorious" appears among the Celtic
- Mars Smertrius. At a site within the territory of the
Ancamna was the consort of Mars Smertrius.
- Mars Teutates. A fusion of Mars with the Celtic god Teutates (Toutatis).
- Mars Thinesus. A form of Mars invoked at
Housesteads Roman Fort at
Hadrian's Wall, where his name is linked
with two goddesses called the
Anne Ross associated Thinesus with a
sculpture, also from the fort, which shows a god flanked by goddesses and
accompanied by a goose – a frequent companion of war gods.
- Mars Visucius. A fusion of Mars with the Celtic god
- Mars Vorocius. A Celtic healer-god invoked at the curative spring
as a curer of eye afflictions. On images, the god is depicted as a Celtic
"Mars Balearicus" is a name used in modern scholarship for small bronze
warrior figures from
Mallorca (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
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