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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Mars, the Roman god of war. The assistance and protection of the god of war was always solemnly invoked before the departure of a Roman army for the field of battle. As Mars Gradivus, the god preceded the Roman armies and led them to victory. Gradivus was one of the gods by whom a general or soldiers might swear an oath to be valorous in battle.

Mars gave his name to the third month in the Roman calendar, Martius, from which English month of "March" derives. The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Ares.

Who was Mars?
Mars was the Roman god of war. He was revered by the Romans as the most important god, apart from Jupiter. The most magnificent of the numerous temples built by the Romans in honour of the war god was the one erected by the Emperor Augustus in the Forum, to commemorate the downfall of the murderers of Julius Caesar. Religious festivals in honor of the god of war were generally held in the month of March
which marked the start of the campaign season. He had also a festival on the Ides of October, when chariot-races took place, after which, the right-hand horse of the team which had drawn the victorious chariot, was sacrificed to him. At one time human sacrifices, prisoners of war, were offered to him but the practice was eventually discontinued.

Facts about Mars
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Mars:

  • Greek Name: Mars

  • Personality: Difficult, moody, unpopular and argumentative

  • Appearance: Strong warrior always carried his weapons

  • Role & Function: The function of Mars is described as being the god of war and the patron of warriors. He was closely associated with all warlike aspects of Rome including repelling invading armies, protecting cities and crushing rebellions

  • Status: Major God and one of the 'Dei Consentes', the Council of Gods.

  • Symbols: The Ancile, a sacred shield, a Spear, a Burning Torch, Vulture, Dog, Woodpecker, eagle and owl

  • Alternative Names: None

  • Gender: Male

  • Greekn Counterpart: The Greek name for this god was Ares

  • Name of Consort: Venus

  • Name of Father: Jupiter

  • Name of Mother: Juno

  • Names of Children: His children included Eros, Anteros, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia, and Adrestia

  • Mythology: The god Ares features in the stories, myths and legends in Greek Mythology relating to the Giant Echidnades & the War with the Titans, the War of the Giants and the the Flight from Typhoeus

Mars in Roman Mythology - Legend of the Ancile
Mars, the Roman god of war, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Roman Mythology. One of the symbols of Mars was the Ancile which was buckler shield which, according to Roman mythology fell from heaven and landed upon Numa Pompilius the legendary second king of Rome who succeeded Romulus. According to legend when the buckler shield fell to earth a voice was heard which declared that Rome should be mistress of the world while the magical shield was preserved.

Facts about Mars in Roman Mythology and History
Discover interesting information and facts about Mars, the Roman god of war.

  • Tuesday, named after the German god Tiu, who was closely identified with Mars

  • The word 'martial' meaning "warlike," is taken from the Latin word 'martialis' meaning "of Mars or war"

  • His most famous symbols were the vulture, a wolf and he often carried a bloody spear

  • The Roman festival to the god of war was called Tubilustrium and was held in his honor on March 23, which marked the start of the campaign season

  • The Tubilustrium was a ceremony involving the sacrifice of a ewe lamb, to make the army fit for war. It was held in Rome in a building called the Hall of the Shoemakers (atrium sutorium)

  • His special warlike festivals were held in March and called the Feriae Marti

  • The priests of the war god were called the Salii who wore the full war-dress (trabea and tunica picta) and were was first instituted by Numa Pompilius. The Salii were always chosen from the noblest families in Rome

  • The Salii, who were twelve in number, began the festival carrying his sacred shields called the ancilia or ancile round the town from one ordained resting-place to another accompanied by war trumpets.

  • His altar was in the Campus Martius, outside the city-walls of Rome and horse races were celebrated in his honor. The races of the war-horse were called Equirria and held on on March 14 and February 27. The great race was run on the Ides of October.

  • The Romans looked upon him as their special protector, and declared him to have been the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of their city.A battle goddess called Bellona was usually depicted accompanying Mars wearing full armor bearing a scourge in one hand, and a lance in the other. A temple was erected to Bellona on the Campus Martius. Before the entrance to her temple stood a pillar, over which a spear was thrown when war was publicly declared.

Mars in Roman Mythology - Fire-Breathing Stallions
The symbols of Mars were his bronze armor and his spear. The armor and weapons represent his role as the god of war and battles. He is depicted as a powerful, strong, god who rode a chariot drawn by four gold-bridled fire-breathing stallions who were called:

  • Aithon meaning Red-Fire
  • Phlogios meaning Flame
  • Konabos meaning Tumult
  • Phobos meaning Fear

The Children of Mars in Roman Mythology
The children of  Mars  included:

  • Phobos God Of Fear
  • Deimos God Of Terror
  • Harmonia Goddess Of Harmony
  • Drakon Of Thebes

'Drakon of Thebes' was a dragon that guarded the famous Ismenian spring and stream of Thebes. Armed warriors sprang from its teeth when they were mowed into the ground. The Dragon in ancient Mythology was also referred to as a serpent.

Mars (Greek Counterpart was Ares)
The Romans habitually assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Greeks and other nations. When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC many of the Greek gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans.  The Romans simply changed the Greek gods names to Latin equivalents. The Greek counterpart of Mars was Ares. The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome. Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship, Roman gods and goddesses like Mars were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games, where blood sacrifices were made to the gods. In ancient Rome, the pantheon of 12 major gods, including Mars, were called the 'Dei Consentes' meaning the Council of Gods.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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