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Ovid tells this story in the Fasti , his long-form poetic work on the Roman calendar. In the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, and the god would have been born with the new year. 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 Neriene, "Valor. 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.


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The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not originally part of the Roman tradition, in BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium , a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.

Scenes of Venus and Mars in Roman art often ignore the adulterous implications of their union, and take pleasure in the good-looking couple attended by Cupid or multiple Loves amores. Some scenes may imply marriage, [21] and the relationship was romanticized in funerary or domestic art in which husbands and wives had themselves portrayed as the passionate divine couple. The uniting of deities representing Love and War lent itself to allegory , especially since the lovers were the parents of Concordia.

Virility as a kind of life force vis or virtue virtus is an essential characteristic of Mars.

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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.

It appears that Mars was originally a thunderer or storm deity, which explains some of his mixed traits in regards to fertility. The wild animals most sacred to Mars were the woodpecker, the wolf, and the bear, 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.

The woodpecker was revered by the Latin peoples , who abstained from eating its flesh. 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 King Amulius , who feared them because he had usurped the throne from their grandfather, Numitor.

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. 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. The two most distinctive animal sacrifices made to Mars were the suovetaurilia , a triple offering of a pig sus , ram ovis and bull taurus , [52] and the October Horse , the only horse sacrifice known to have been carried out in ancient Rome and a rare instance of a victim the Romans considered inedible. The Romans thought that this altar had been established by the semi-legendary Numa Pompilius , the peace-loving successor of Romulus.

No temple was built at the altar, but from BC a covered walkway connected it to the Porta Fontinalis , near the office and archives of the Roman censors. Newly elected censors placed their curule chairs by the altar, and when they had finished conducting the census, the citizens were collectively purified with a suovetaurilia there. The main Temple of Mars Aedes Martis in the Republican period also lay outside the sacred boundary [ where?

It housed a colossal statue of Mars and a nude Venus. The Campus Martius continued to provide venues for equestrian events such as chariot racing during the Imperial period , but under the first emperor Augustus it underwent a major program of urban renewal, marked by monumental architecture. With its public gardens, the Campus became one of the most attractive places in the city to visit. Augustus chose the Campus Martius as the site of his new Temple to Mars Ultor [ clarification needed ] , a manifestation of Mars he cultivated as the avenger ultor of the murder of Julius Caesar and of the military disaster suffered at the Battle of Carrhae.

When the legionary standards lost to the Parthians were recovered, they were housed in the new temple. The date of the temple's dedication on May 12 was aligned with the heliacal setting of the constellation Scorpio , the sign of war. A large statue of Mars was part of the short-lived Arch of Nero , which was built in 62 AD but dismantled after Nero 's suicide and disgrace damnatio memoriae. 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.

Mars was among the deities to appear on the earliest Roman coinage in the late 4th and early 3rd century BC. On the Altar of Peace Ara Pacis , built in the last years of the 1st century BC, 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.

The 1st-century statue of Mars found in the Forum of Nerva pictured at top is similar. 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.

Particularly in works of art influenced by the Greek tradition , Mars may be portrayed in a manner that resembles Ares, youthful, beardless, and often nude. 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. The high priest of Mars in Roman public religion was the Flamen Martialis , who was one of the three major priests in the fifteen-member college of flamens.

Mars was also served by the Salii , a twelve-member priesthood of patrician youths who dressed as archaic warriors and danced in procession around the city in March. Both priesthoods extend to the earliest periods of Roman history, and patrician birth was required.

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The festivals of Mars cluster in his namesake month of March Latin: Martius , with a few observances in October, the beginning and end of the season for military campaigning and agriculture. Festivals with horse racing took place in the Campus Martius. Some festivals in March retained characteristics of new year festivals, since Martius was originally the first month of the Roman calendar.

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Mars was also honored by chariot races at the Robigalia and Consualia , though these festivals are not primarily dedicated to him. From BC onward, Mars was among the gods honored at the lectisternium , a banquet given for deities who were present as images. Roman hymns carmina are rarely preserved, but Mars is invoked in two.

The Arval Brothers , or "Brothers of the Fields," chanted a hymn to Mars while performing their three-step dance. Over the years we have moved on and grown up together. Her work has become stronger and more complex. Her development of acrylics on canvas using the fluidity of the medium is an interesting move.

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Have a look at her exhibition in full on the web page www. The weather is looking good. The garden is open with a mist of wisteria and blossom showing off the sculpture. Thursday, 21 April Spring with Percy. It's definitely spring now in the Lakes.


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There are advantages in having a late Easter. The daffodils are over but there are plenty of lambs roaring around in the fields. The ospreys are back and it's warm. Come up and see us if you can. The Kelly exhibition is proving very popular and there are still a few left.

We have just got a new one of Newlands Valley for sale from a family member. It's astonishing how these Kellys just keep turning up. Working on his biography has given me a deeper insight into his life - if he had a day without painting or drawing he was unhappy and depressed. No street parties for us! We have a new collection of pots from William Plumptre and the garden will be open if fine where we have some new sculpture by Daniel Clehane in Portland stone and a new bronze - New Dawn - which greets the sunrise every morning in memory of Penelope Van De Havre, a client and friend who died last November and gave it to us for the garden Monday, 4 April April Fools' Day.

A small group gathered at Friday morning outside the gallery. Driving rain was hissing down. The Percy Kelly 50 Little Gems exhibition opened at and everything exploded.

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Telephone and mobiles were ringing, e mails flying into the computer and the gallery was milling with wet intrepid people. In the first 10 minutes we had sold 21 paintings.