Mars - A Roman God

Mars - A Roman God Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Biographies World History Legends and Legendary People Visual Arts

People were afraid of Attila the Hun.  Not only was he powerful, his conquests extended far and wide.

A story was told that he possessed the sword of Mars (the Roman god of war whom the Greeks also worshipped as Ares).  Edward Gibbon, in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, tells us more about Attila and the legendary sword of Mars:

The religious arts of Attila were skillfully adapted to the character of his age and country.  The Scythians worshipped the god of war under the symbol of an iron cimeter. 

One of the shepherds of the Huns perceived that a heifer, who was grazing, had wounded herself in the foot, and curiously followed the track of the blood, till he discovered, among the long grass, the point of an ancient sword, which he dug out of the ground and presented to Attila.

That prince accepted, with pious gratitude, this celestial favor; and as the rightful possessor of the sword of Mars, asserted his divine and indefeasible claim to the dominion of the earth. 

His brother Bleda, who reigned over a considerable part of the nation, was compelled to resign his sceptre and his life.  Yet even this cruel act was attributed to a supernatural impulse; and the vigour with which Attila wielded the sword of Mars convinced the world that it had been reserved alone for his invincible arm.  (Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, at pages 251-52.)

Who, exactly, was Mars (the Roman god)?  We learn about him from NASA's “All about Mars” website:

Greek and Roman mythology tells of the god of war, the son of Zeus and Hera, who was despised by his parents. The Greeks called him Ares, and the Romans called him Mars. The Greeks portrayed him as hateful and murderous, yet a coward, as shown in Homer's Illiad. 

The Romans, who glorified war, considered him a mighty warrior. Some Romans worshipped him, even leaving sacrifices at his altar.

Then ... there’s the planet known as Mars (and as “The Red Planet”). Is it also named after the Roman god of war?

NASA tells us this:

BEFORE 1500 (the first observations of Mars)

In the earliest days of Mars observation, all that was known about it was that it appeared to be a fiery red and followed a strange loop in the sky, unlike any other.

The Babylonians studied astronomy as early as 400 BC, and developed advanced methods for predicting astronomical events such as eclipses. They made careful observations for their calendars and religious reasons, but never attempted to explain the phenomena they witnessed. The Babylonians called Mars Nergal - the great hero, the king of conflicts.

The Egyptians were the first to notice that the stars seem "fixed" and that the sun moves relative to the stars. They also noticed five bright objects in the sky (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn) that seemed to move in a similar manner. They called Mars Har Decher - the Red One.

Greeks called the planet Ares after their god of war, while the Romans called it Mars. Its sign is thought to be the shield and sword of Mars.

So now you know some interesting facts about Mars (the god, the planet and the legendary originator of Attila's sword).

Click on the image for a better view of Mars as the Roman god of war.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Aug 20, 2019

Media Credits

Image of Mars, Roman god of war, online courtesy NASA.



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"Mars - A Roman God" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Aug 20, 2019.
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