Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The birth of Mars and Nerio / Minerva

Posted by Fredsvenn on May 19, 2017

Vulcan was the offspring of Jupiter and Juno. His Greek counterpart is Hephaestus, the god of fire and smithery. Through his identification with the Hephaestus, Vulcan came to be considered as the manufacturer of art, arms, iron, jewelry, and armor for various gods and heroes, including the lightning bolts of Jupiter. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, and the husband of Maia and Aphrodite (Venus).

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the 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 in the religion of the Roman army.

Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for 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.

Ares is the Greek god of war. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus.

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 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 217 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.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva.

Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.

Like Ares who was the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is usually considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno. However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he 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.

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the head of Jupiter. After impregnating the titaness Metis, Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him.

Fearing that their child would grow stronger than he and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole. The titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter’s head and, from the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother’s weapons and armor.

From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, and the crafts. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge.

 

 

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