Mars (Roman God of War)

MARS, in Roman mythology, the god of war, corresponding to the Greek Ares. He was the son of Juno and the father of Romulus, hence is the traditional founder of the Roman race. In common with Jupiter he was designated father. Besides presiding over war, he was regarded the protecting deity who watched over the welfare of the state and presided over agriculture. The Romans maintained twelve priests of Mars, called Salii, who were always chosen from the noblest families. Before departing for the battlefield the Romans invoked the assistance and protection of the god of war, and any reverses of fortune were invariably ascribed to his anger. Many temples were dedicated to him in Rome, the most sacred being one on the Campus Martius, one on the Appian Way, and one built by Augustus in the Forum and called Mars the Avenger. In statuary he is represented with the helmet, shield, and spear, and the animals consecrated to him included the wolf, horse, vulture, and woodpecker. Many of the military exercises and the month of March were named in his honor, while his festivals were held in the month of March and on the Ides of October. Women did not participate in the worship of Mars.

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