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Mars



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MARS, the god of war, was, according to the common belief of the ancients, the son of Jupiter and of Juno; or as some of the later poets have pretended, the son of Juno, by whom solely he was generated, as the goddess Minerva was brought forth from Jupiter alone. Mars was regarded as a great leader in battle; as presiding over discord and contest, everywhere exciting slaughter and war. Although this divinity had numerous adorers in Greece and in many other countries, there was no place where his worship became more popular than in Rome.

On a gold coin and also on a middle brass of Antoninus Pius, appears a type which recalls to mind the legendary origin of Rome. It represents Mars armed with helmet, spear and shield descending to Ilia or Rhea, the Vestal mother of Romulus and Remus, who is depicted half naked in a recumbent posture and buried in a profound sleep. It was to support the fable which made Romulus pass for the son of Mars, that the Romans gave to their first king, in his apothesis, the name of Quirnius, and afterwards to Mars himself many temples, amongst which that built by Augustus after the battle of Philippi, under the name of MARS VICTOR, was most celebrated. The priests of this deity, called Salians, had the custody of the ancili, or sacred shields. The Latins derived his name from Mares (males), because it is men sho are employed in wars. They also called him Gradivus and sometimes Quirinus; and established this difference between the two appellations, that the former indicated this god during war, and the latter during peace.

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