Deity of the Month: MARS


First century statue of Mars at the Musei Capitolini in Rome

Originally an Italian god of agriculture and guardian of fields and boundaries, Mars was later connected to the Greek god of war, Ares. Mars was considered the god of warfare, as opposed to the goddess Minerva, the Roman equivalent of Athena, who was associated with military strategy. And although the Greek god Ares was portrayed as a destructive force, Mars to the Romans represented military power used to achieve stability. A festival celebrating Mars in both his roles, as a war god, and as an agricultural god, ran over three weeks long during the month of March, which was named after him. The festivities included processions of ritual dancing by priestly colleges, sacrifices, horse and chariot racing and purification of the sacred war trumpets and shields. Mars also had a series of festivals in February, May and October to honor him. His union with Rhea Silvia produced Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome; his union with Venus, the Roman goddess of love, produced the child Cupid. The wolf and the woodpecker were his sacred animals, and he is often portrayed wearing a helmet and carrying a spear.





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