Mars (Latin: Mārs, adjectives Martius and Martialis) 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 worshipped by the Roman legions. 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.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. However, 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 himself, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome. Although the center of Mars' worship was originally located outside the pomerium, or sacred boundary of Rome, Augustus brought the god into the center 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 genealogy and 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 the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.
Although Ares was the son of Zeus and 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 Roman calendar. 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.
The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, "Valour." She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, "manly virtue" (from vir, "man"). In the early 3rd century BCE, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. 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 Minerva.
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."
Virility as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars. As an agricultural god, he directs his energies toward creating conditions that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of nature. 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 propitiated. In his book on farming, Cato invokes 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.
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 leech bites. The bird of Mars also guarded a woodland herb (paeonia) used for treatment of the digestive or female reproductive systems; those who sought to harvest it were advised to do so by night, lest the woodpecker jab out their eyes. The picus Martius seems to have been a particular species, but authorities differ on which one: perhaps Picus viridis or Dryocopus martius.
The woodpecker was revered by the Latin peoples, who abstained from eating its flesh. 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 of Mars. The Umbrian 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 migration 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 of 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 usurped. A lesser-known part of the story is that 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 wolves. At the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BCE, the appearance of the wolf of Mars (Martius lupus) was a sign that Roman victory was to come.
In 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 the correct 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 (exta) — it follows that the animals sacrificed were most often, though not always, domestic animals normally part of the Roman diet. Most gods received castrated male animals as sacrifices, and the goddesses female victims; Mars, however, was one of the few male deities who regularly received intact males. Mars did receive oxen under a few of his cult titles (see Mars Grabovius below), but the usual offering was the bull, singly or in multiples.
The two most distinctive animal sacrifices made to Mars were the suovetaurilia, for which a pig (sus), ram (ovis) and bull (taurus) were the victims, and the October Horse, the only horse sacrifice known to have been carried out in ancient Rome and a rare instance of an inedible victim.
In 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.
On the Augustan Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis), built in the last years of the 1st century BCE, Mars is a mature man with a "handsome, classicizing" face, and a short curly beard and moustache. His helmet is a plumed neo-Attic-type. He wears a military cloak (paludamentum) and a 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. 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.
The spear of Mars
The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle. A relic or fetish called the spear of Mars was kept in the Regia, the former residence of the Kings of Rome. 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 Aemilianus.
Names and epithets
The word Mārs (genitive Mārtis), which in Old Latin and poetic usage also appears as Māvors (Māvortis), is cognate with Oscan Māmers (Māmertos). The Old Latin form was believed to derive from an Italic *Māworts, however this name is from Etruscan Maris, originally a god of vegetation and not of war. Adjective forms are martius and martialis, from which derive English "martial" (as in "martial arts" or "martial law") and personal names such as "Martin". The Campus Martius bore his name.
Mars also gave his name to the third month in the Roman calendar, Martius, from which English "March" derives. In the most ancient Roman calendar, Martius was the first month. In many languages Tuesday is named for the planet Mars or the God of War, in Latin Martis Dies (Mars' Day), surviving in Romance languages as Martes (Spanish), Mardi (French), Martedi (Italian), Marţi (Romanian), and Dimarts (Catalan), compare An Mháirt (Irish/Gaelic).
In Roman religion
Mars received cult within the traditional religion of Rome under several specific manifestations.
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."
The poet Statius addresses him as "the most implacable of the gods," but 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 was Nereia, the daughter of Nereus, and that he loved her passionately (compare Nerio above).
Mars Quirinus was the protector of the Quirites ("citizens" or "civilians") as divided into 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."
The deified Romulus was identified with Mars Quirinus. In the 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 of the 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 deity, any special claim for Mars as father of the Roman people lies in the mythic genealogy 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 wild 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 BCE, and the negotiated return of the Roman battle standards that had been lost to the Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE. 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.
A great temple of Mars Ultor was dedicated in the center of the Forum of Augustus in 2 BCE, giving the god a new place of honor in the heart of the city when he had formerly been most associated with the Campus Martius outside the pomerium (sacred boundary). Some rituals previously conducted within the cult of the Capitoline Jupiter were transferred to the new Temple of Mars Ultor, which became the point of departure for magistrates as they left for military campaigns abroad.
On various Imperial holidays, Mars Ultor was the first god to receive a sacrifice, followed by the Genius of the emperor. An inscription from the 2nd century records continued devotion to Mars Ultor, with a vow to offer him a bull with gilded horns.
Augustus was appended far and wide, "on monuments great and small," to the name of gods or goddesses (as Augusta), including Mars. The title may have been an honorific for the deity for the same reasons that it became the title for the former Octavian, but while it honored the deity as the source of the emperor's power and legitimacy, it may also have allowed the viewer to infer that the deity and the emperor were one.
In Roman Spain (Hispania), many of the statues and dedications to Mars Augustus were presented by members of the priesthood called the Augustales. These vows (vota) were usually fulfilled within a sanctuary that functioned as a center for Imperial cult, or in a temple or precinct (templum) consecrated specifically to Mars. As with other deities invoked as Augustus/-a, altars to Mars Augustus might be set up to further the wellbeing (salus) of the emperor, but an inscription in the Alps records the gratitude of a slave who dedicated a statue to Mars Augustus for restoring his own health.
Mars Augustus appears in inscriptions at such locations as Baetica, Saguntum, and Emerita (Lusitania) in Roman Spain; Lepcis Magna (with a date of 6–7 CE) in present-day Libya; and 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 texts, 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 Alator, a fusion of Mars with the Celtic deity Alator (possibly meaning "Huntsman" or "Cherisher"), known from an inscription found in England, on an altar at South Shields and a silver-gilt votive plaque at Barkway, Hertfordshire.
- Mars Albiorix, a fusion of Mars with the ancient Celtic deity Toutatis, using the epithet Albiorix ("King of the World"). Mars Albiorix was worshiped as protector of the Albici (or Albioeci) tribe of southern France, and was regarded as a mountain god. Another epithet of Toutatis, Caturix ("King of Combat"), was used in the combination Mars Caturix, which was worshipped in Gaul, possibly as the tribal god of the Caturiges.
- "Mars Balearicus", a name used in modern scholarship for small bronze warrior figures from Mallorca (one of the Balearic Islands) and interpreted as representing the local Mars cult. These 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. 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, and an imported statue of Imhotep, the legendary Egyptian physician, in another. The sacred precincts, which were still in active use when the Roman occupation began in 123 BCE, may have been astronomically oriented toward the rising or setting of the constellation Centaurus.
- Mars Barrex, from Barrex or Barrecis (probably meaning "Supreme One"), a Celtic god known only from a dedicatory inscription found at Carlisle, England.
- Mars Belatucadrus, an epithet found in five inscriptions in the area of Hadrian's Wall in England, which equates the Celtic deity Belatu-Cadros with Mars.
- Mars Braciaca, a synthesis of Mars with the Celtic god Braciaca. This deity is only known from a single inscription at Bakewell, England.
- Mars Camulos, from the Celtic war god Camulus.
- Mars Capriociegus, from an Celtic god who was linked to Mars. He is invoked in two inscriptions in the Pontevedra region of north-west Spain.
- Mars Cocidius. The Celtic hunter god Cocidius was equated with both Mars and Silvanus. He is referenced around north-west Cumbria and Hadrian's Wall, and was chiefly a war god only in instances where he was equated with Mars.
- Mars Condatis, from the Celtic god of the confluence of rivers, Condatis. Mars Condatis, who oversaw water and healing, is known from inscriptions near Hadrian's Wall, at Piercebridge, Bowes and Chester-le-Street.
- Mars Corotiacus. A local British version of Mars from Martlesham in Suffolk. He appears on a bronze statuette as a cavalryman, armed and riding a horse which tramples a prostrate enemy beneath its hooves.
- Mars Lenus. Mars Lenus, sometimes founds as Lenus Mars, had a major healing cult at the capital of the Treveri (present-day Trier). Among the votives are images of children offering doves. His consort was Ancamna.
- 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 Gaulish and Brythonic 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 from the continental Treveri of Gallia Belgica, who sought healing.
- Mars Mullo. The Celtic god Mullo ("mule") was invoked with Mars in northwest Gaul.
- Mars Neto. A fusion of Mars and the Iberian god Neto/Neito, which may be derived from the Celtic Neit.
- Mars Nodens. A fusion of Mars with the Celtic god Nodens.
- Mars Ocelus. A fusion of Mars with the Celtic god Ocelus.
- Mars Olloudius. A fusion of Mars with the Celtic god Olloudius.
- Mars Rigisamus. Mars was given this title (which means 'Greatest King' or 'King of Kings') at West Coker in Somerset, where a bronze figurine and inscribed plaque dedicated to the god were found in a field, along with the remains of a building, perhaps a shrine. The figurine depicts a standing naked male figure with a close-fitting helmet; his right hand may have once held a weapon, and he probably originally also had a shield (both are now lost). The same epithet for a god is recorded from Bourges in Gaul. The use of this epithet implies that Mars had an extremely high status, over and above his warrior function.
- 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 Nettleham (Lincolnshire) in 1961. Rigonemetis is only known from this site, and it seems he may have been a god belonging to the tribe of the Corieltauvi.
- Mars Segomo. "Mars the Victorious" appears among the Celtic Sequani.
- Mars Smertrius. At a site within the territory of the Treveri, 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 Alaisiagae. 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 Visucius.
- Mars Vorocius. A Celtic healer-god invoked at the curative spring shrine at Vichy (Allier) as a curer of eye afflictions. On images, the god is depicted as a Celtic warrior.
- Mary Beard, J.A. North, and S.R.F. Price, Religons of Rome: A History (Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 47–48.
- Kurt A. Raaflaub, War and Peace in the Ancient World (Blackwell, 2007), p. 15.
- Paul Rehak and John G. Younger, Imperium and Cosmos: Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), pp. 11–12.
- Isidore of Seville calls Mars Romanae gentis auctorem, the originator or founder of the Roman people as a gens (Etymologiae 5.33.5).
- Hesiod, Theogony p. 79 in the translation of Norman O. Brown (Bobbs-Merrill, 1953); 921 in the Loeb Classical Library numbering.
- Ovid, Fasti 5.229–260.
- William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), p. 35f., discusses this interpretation in order to question it.
- Carole E. Newlands, Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti (Cornell University Press, 1995), pp. 105–106.
- Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 13.23. Gellius says the word Nerio or Nerienes is Sabine and is supposed to be the origin of the name Nero as used by the Claudian family, who were Sabine in origin. The Sabines themselves, Gellius says, thought the word was Greek in origin, from νεῦρα (neura), Latin nervi, meaning the sinews and ligaments of the limbs.
- Robert E.A. Palmer, The Archaic Community of the Romans (Cambridge University Press, 1970, 2009), p. 167.
- Plautus, Truculentus 515.
- Johannes Lydus, De mensibus 4.60 (42).
- Porphyrion, Commentum in Horatium Flaccum, on Epistula II.2.209.
- William Warde Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People (London, 1922), p. 150–154; Roger D. Woodard, Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult (University of Illinois Press, 2006), pp. 113–114; Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (University of California Press, 2005), p. 145. The prayer is recorded in the passage on Nerio in Aulus Gellius.
- Augustine, De civitate Dei 6.10, citing Seneca; Fowler doubts the authority of the passage (Religious Experience, p. 166, note 16).
- R.B. Onians, The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time and Fate (Cambridge University Press, 1951), pp. 470–471. Onians connects the name of Mars to the Latin mas, maris, "male" (p. 178), as had Isidore of Seville, saying that the month of March (Martius) was named after Mars "because at that time all living things are stirred toward virility (mas, gen. maris) and to the pleasures of sexual intercourse" (eo tempore cuncta animantia agantur ad marem et ad concumbendi voluptatem): Etymologies 5.33.5, translation by Stephen A. Barney, The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 128. In antiquity, vis was thought to be related etymologically to vita, "life." Varro (De lingua latina 5.64, quoting Lucilius) notes that vis is vita: "vis drives us to do everything."
- On the relation of Mars' warrior aspect to his agricultural functions with respect to Dumézil's Trifunctional hypothesis, see Wouter W. Belier, Decayed Gods: Origin and Development of Georges Dumézil's 'idéologie tripartie' (Brill, 1991), pp. 88–91 online.
- Schilling, "Mars," in Roman and European Mythologies, p. 135; Palmer, Archaic Community, pp. 113–114.
- Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome (University of California Press, 2005), p. 127; Fowler, Religious Experience, p. 134.
- Cato the Elder, On Agriculture 141. In pre-modern agricultural societies, encroaching woodland or wild growth was a real threat to the food supply, since clearing land for cultivation required intense manual labor with minimal tools and little or no large-scale machinery. Fowler says of Mars, "As he was not localised either on the farm or in the city, I prefer to think that he was originally conceived as a Power outside the boundary in each case, but for that very reason all the more to be propitiated by the settlers within it" (Religious Experience, p. 142).
- Schilling, "Mars," p. 135.
- Beard et al., Religions of Rome: A History, pp. 47–48.
- Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome, p. 127
- Plutarch, Roman Questions 21, citing Nigidius Figulus.
- Plutarch, Roman Questions 21; also named as sacred to Mars in his Life of Romulus. Ovid (Fasti 3.37) calls the woodpecker the bird of Mars.
- Pliny the Elder, Natural History 29.29.
- Pliny, Natural History 27.60. Pliny names the herb as glycysīdē in Greek, Latin paeonia, also called pentorobos.
- A.H. Krappe, "Picus Who Is Also Zeus," Mnemosyne 9.4 (1941), p. 241.
- William Geoffrey Arnott, Birds in the ancient world from A to Z (Routledge, 2007), p. 63 online.
- Plutarch, Roman Questions 21. Athenaeus lists the woodpecker among delicacies on Greek tables (Deipnosophistae 9.369).
- Plautus, Asinaria 259–261; Pliny the Elder, Natural History 10.18. Named also in the Iguvine Tables (6a, 1–7), as Umbrian peiqu; Schilling, "Roman Divination," in Roman and European Mythologies (University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 96–97 and 105, note 7.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1.31; Peter F. Dorcey, The Cult of Silvanus: A Study in Roman Folk Religion (Brill, 1992), p. 33.
- John Greppin, entry on "woodpecker," Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997), p. 648.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities I.14.5, as noted by Mary Emma Armstrong, The Significance of Certain Colors in Roman Ritual (George Banta Publishing, 1917), p. 6.
- The myth of the she-wolf, and the birth of the twins with Mars as their father, is a long and complex tradition that weaves together multiple stories about the founding of Rome. See T.P. Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth (Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. xiii, 73ff. et passim.
- Plutarch, Life of Romulus.
- Livy 22.1.12, as cited by Wiseman, Remus, p. 189, note 6, and Armstrong, The Significance of Certain Colors, p. 6.
- Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 10.27.
- Miranda Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth (Routledge, 1992), p. 126.
- Nicole Belayche, "Religious Actors in Daily Life: Practices and Related Beliefs," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 283; C. Bennett Pascal, "October Horse," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981), pp. 268, 277.
- As did Neptune, Janus and the Genius; John Scheid, "Sacrifices for Gods and Ancestors," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 264.
- Mary Beard, J.A. North, and S.R.F. Price, Religons of Rome: A Sourcebook (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 153.
- C. Bennett Pascal, "October Horse," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981), pp. 263, 268, 277.
- Paul Rehak and John G. Younger, Imperium and Cosmos: Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p. 114.
- Rehak and Younger, Imperium and Cosmos, p. 114.
- Martianus Capella 5.425, with Mars specified as Gradivus and Neptune named as Portunus.
- Varro, Antiquitates frg. 254* (Cardauns); Plutarch, Romulus 29.1 (a rather muddled account); Arnobius, Adversus nationes 6.11.
- Michael Lipka, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Brill, 2009), p. 88.
- Imperium and Cosmos p. 114.
- The classical Latin declension of the name is as follows: nominative and vocative case, Mars; genitive, Martis; accusative, Martem; dative, Marti; ablative Marte.
- Virgil, Aeneid VIII, 630
- Mallory, J. P.; D. Q. Adams (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. pp. 630–631. ISBN 1-884964-98-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=tzU3RIV2BWIC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. ; some of the older literature assumes an Indo-European form closer to *Marts, and see a connection with the Indic windgods, the Maruts "Māruta". http://vedabase.net/m/maruta. Retrieved July 8, 2010. , but this makes the appearance of Mavors and the agricultural cults of Mars difficult to explain.
- English Tuesday derives from Old English "Tiwesdæg" and means "Tiw's Day" (Online Etymology Dictionary), Tiw being the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war.
- Livy 2.45.
- Livy, 1.20, with note by Valerie M. Warrior, The History of Rome Books 1–5 (Hackett, 2006), p. 31.
- Compare Gradiva. The 2nd-century grammarian Festus offers two other explanations in addition. The name, he says, might also mean the vibration of a spear, for which the Greeks use the word kradainein; others locate the origin of Gradivus in the grass (gramine), because the grass crown is the highest military honor; see Carole Newlands, Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti (Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 106. Servius says that grass was sacred to Mars (note to Aeneid 12.119).
- Statius, Thebaid 9.4.
- Valerius Maximus 2.131.1, auctor ac stator Romani nominis.
- Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Roman Religion in Valerius Maximus (Routledge, 2002), p. 88.
- Martianus Capella, The Marriage of Philology and Mercury 1.4.
- Robert E.A. Palmer, The Archaic Community of the Romans (Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 167.
- Mars enim cum saevit Gradivus dicitur, cum tranquillus est Quirinus: Servius, note to Aeneid 1.292, at Perseus. At Aeneid 6.860, Servius further notes: "Quirinus is the Mars who presides over peace and whose cult is maintained within the civilian realm, for the Mars of war has his temple outside that realm." See also Belier, Decayed Gods, p. 92: "The identification of the two gods is a reflection of a social process. The men who till the soil as Quirites in times of peace are identical with the men who defend their country as Milites in times of war."
- Palmer, The Archaic Community of the Romans, pp. 165–171. On how Romulus became identified with Mars Quirinus, see the Dumézilian summary of Belier, Decayed Gods, p. 93–94.
- Etymologically, Quirinus is *co-uiri-no, "(the god) of the community of men (viri)," and Vofionus is *leudhyo-no, "(the god) of the people": Oliver de Cazanove, "Pre-Roman Italy, Before and Under the Romans," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 49. It has also been argued that Vofionus corresponds to Janus, because an entry in Festus (204, edition of Lindsay) indicates there was a Roman triad of Jupiter, Mars, and Janus, each having quirinus as a title; C. Scott Littleton, The New Comparative Mythology (University of California Press, 1966, 1973), p. 178, citing Vsevolod Basanoff, Les dieux Romains (1942).
- O. de Cazanove, "Pre-Roman Italy," pp. 49–50.
- The Indo-European character of this prayer is discussed by Calvert Watkins, "Some Indo-European Prayers: Cato's Lustration of the Fields," in How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 197–213.
- Celia E. Schultz, "Juno Sospita and Roman Insecurity in the Social War," in Religion in Republican Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 217, especially note 38.
- For the text of this vow, see The invocation of Decius Mus.
- Mary Beard, J.A. North, and S.R.F. Price, Religons of Rome: A Sourcebook (Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 71ff. for examples of a bull offering, p. 153 on the suovetaurilia.
- Beard et al., "Religions of Rome, p. 370.
- Martin Henig, Religion in Roman Britain (London, 1984, 1995), p. 27, citing the military calendar from Dura-Europos.
- Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (University of California Press, 2005), p. 168.
- Newlands, Playing with Time, p. 104.
- Votum pro bubus, uti valeant, sic facito. Marti Silvano in silva interdius in capita singula boum votum facito. Farris L. III et lardi P.39 IIII S et pulpae P. IIII S, vini S.40 III, id in unum vas liceto coicere, et vinum item in unum vas liceto coicere. Eam rem divinam vel servus vel liber licebit faciat. Ubi res divina facta erit, statim ibidem consumito. Mulier ad eam rem divinam ne adsit neve videat quo modo fiat. Hoc votum in annos singulos, si voles, licebit vovere. Cato the Elder, On Farming 83, English translation from the Loeb Classical Library, Bill Thayer's edition at LacusCurtius.
- Robert Schilling, "Silvanus," in Roman and European Mythologies (University of Chicago Press, 1992, from the French edition of 1981), p. 146; Peter F. Dorcey, The Cult of Silvanus: A Study in Roman Folk Religion (Brill, 1992), pp. 8–9, 49.
- Dorcey, The Cult of Silvanus, pp. 9 and 105ff.
- William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), p. 55.
- Michael Lipka, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Brill, 2009), p. 91.
- Robert Schilling, "Mars," Roman and European Mythologies (University of Chicago Press, 1992, from the French edition of 1981), p. 135; Mary Beard, J.A. North, and S.R.F. Price, Religons of Rome: A Sourcebook (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 80.
- For instance, during the Republic, the dictator was charged with the ritual clavi figendi causa, driving a nail into the wall of the Capitoline temple. According to Cassius Dio (55.10.4, as cited by Lipka, Roman Gods, p. 108), this duty was transferred to a censor under Augustus, and the ritual moved to the Temple of Mars Ultor.
- Lipka, Roman Gods, p. 109.
- Lipka, Roman Gods, pp. 111–112.
- Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI.1, no. 2086 (edition of Bormann and Henzen, 1876), as translated and cited by Charlotte R. Long, The Twelve Gods of Greece and Rome (Brill, 1987), pp. 130–131.
- Keith Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves (Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. 230.
- A.E. Cooley, "Beyond Rome and Latium: Roman Religion in the Age of Augustus," in Religion in Republican Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 247; Duncan Fishwick, The imperial cult in the Latin West (Brill, 2005), passim.
- Jonathan Edmondson, "The Cult of Mars Augustus and Roman Imperial Power at Augusta Emerita (Lusitania) in the Third Century A.D.: A New Votive Dedication," in Culto imperial: politica y poder («L'Erma» di Bretschneider, 2007), p. 562. These include an inscription that was later built into the castle walls at Sines in Portugal; dedications at Ipagrum (Aguilar de la Frontera, in the modern province of Córdoba) and at Conobaria (Las Cabezas de San Juan in the province of Seville in Baetica; and a statue at Isturgi ((Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum II. 2121 = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae II2/7, 56). A magister of the "Lares of Augustus" made a dedication to Mars Augustus (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum II. 2013 = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae II2/5, 773) at Singili(a) Barba (Cerro del Castillón, Antequera).
- Edmondson, "The Cult of Mars Augustus," p. 563.
- Edmondson, "The Cult of Mars Augustus," p. 562.
- Mars Augustus is hailed by the person making the dedication as conservator corporis sui, the preserver of his body, and the statue was vowed ex iussu numinis ipsius, "by the command of the numen himself" (Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 3160); Rudolf Haensch, "Inscriptions as Sources of Knowledge for Religions and Cults in the Roman World of Imperial Times," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 182.
- William Van Andringa, "Religions and the Integration of Cities in the Empire in the Second Century AD: The Creation of a Common Religious Language," A Companion to Roman Religion , p. 86.
- Edmondson, "The Cult of Mars Augustus," pp. 541–575.
- Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 238, note 11, citing Victor Ehrenberg and Arnold H.M. Jones, Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius (Oxford University Press, 1955), no. 43.
- The chief priest of the three Dacian provinces dedicated an altar pro salute, for the wellbeing of the Emperor Gordian, at an imperial cult center sometime between 238 and 244 CE; Edmondson, "The Cult of Mars Augustus," p. 562.
- Miranda Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth (Routledge, 1992), p. 198.
- Ton Derks, Gods, Temples, and Ritual Practices: The Transformation of Religious Ideas and Values in Roman Gaul (Amsterdam University Press, 1998), p. 79.
- Phillips, E.J. (1977). Corpus Signorum Imperii Romani, Great Britain, Volume I, Fascicule 1. Hadrian's Wall East of the North Tyne (p. 66). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-725954-5.
- Ross, Anne (1967). Pagan Celtic Britain. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-902357-03-4.
- Miranda J. Green. "Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend" (p. 142.) Thames and Hudson Ltd. 1997
- G. Llompart, "Mars Balearicus," Boletín del Seminario de Estudios de Arte y Arqueología 26 (1960) 101–128; "Estatuillas de bronce de Mallorca: Mars Balearicus," in Bronces y religión romana: actas del XI Congreso Internacional de Bronces Antiguos, Madrid, mayo-junio, 1990 (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1993), p. 57ff.
- Jaume García Rosselló, Joan Fornés Bisquerra, and Michael Hoskin, "Orientations of the Talayotic Sanctuaries of Mallorca," Journal of History of Astronomy, Archaeoastronomy Supplement 31 (2000), pp. 58–64 (especially note 10) pdf.
- Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth, p. 64.
- Jones, Barri & Mattingly, David (1990). An Atlas of Roman Britain (p. 275). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 1-84217-067-8.
- Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth, p. 216.
- Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise (Éditions Errance, 2003), 2nd edition, p. 200.
- Gaulish nemeton was originally a sacred grove or space defined for religious purposes, and later a building: Bernhard Maier, Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture (Boydell Press, 1997, 2000, originally published 1994 in German), p. 207.
- Helmut Birkham, entry on "Loucetius," in Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia, edited by John Koch (ABC-Clio, 2006), p. 1192.
- Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth, p. 208.
- Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome (Facts on File, 1994, 2004), p. 297.
- Miranda Green, Celtic Myths (University of Texas Press, 1993, 1998), p. 42.
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