This blog which is part of the sequel of blogs about mythical figures on coins is about another famous mythical figure, Mars.
When I searched for coins with Mars on it on Ma-shops I enjoyed the quality of most of the coins. I was impressed by several aurei and by some other coins who depicted Mars. In this blog I will discuss who the god Mars is and I will discuss some coins with Mars on it.
Most people have heard of the god Mars, but don’t know his full story. A book can be written about his nature, his representations in the roman arts and everything else that is associated with him. Because there is no space for that in this blog I will give you a short overview of all of this.
Mars was the Greek equivalent of the god Ares, the Greek god of the art of war. Mars was, also, the god of war and he also had some functions in agriculture. He must be seen as the securer of peace and not as some brutal destroyer of other folks.
The festivals, which were related to him, were mostly held within the month Martius which was named after the god Mars. Mars was the son of Juno and probably also from Jupiter. There is some controversy if Jupiter is the father it is possible that he only had a mother. Most of the time Mars is depicted with war related items. Like a helmet and a spear.
Catalog: RIC I p. 130
Uncertain Balkan/Thracian mint, struck under Claudius. Bareheaded and draped bust left)(Mars, barefoot, but wearing full military outfit, including sagum (cape), advancing left, holding spear and round shield.
Young Classical Mars
This beautiful aureus of Aurelianus shows a classical Mars. Here we see a young, naked and a so called fresh, Mars. Here he is wearing a helmet, his spear and a has a trophy. This all refers of course towards his nature, war. Beneath his feed a captive is seated. This refers towards someone who is conquered by war. This coin is of a outstanding quality and is a pure jewel. I think I’ve never seen an aureus of Aurelianus in this quality before.
Catalog: Corsica hoard
weight 4,41gr. | gold Ø 21mm.
obv. Laurated and cuirassed bust right
IMP C L DOM AVRELIANVS P F AVG
rev. Mars, naked, advancing right caarying transverse spear and trophy,
captive seated at feet VIRTVS AVG
From the famous Corsica hoard. In short, the hoard was found in several parts beginning in the middle 19th century. The first part of the hoard was found in a pot near the shores of the Gulf of Lava, northeast of Ajaccio in Corsica. In 1957 divers found another part of the hoard off the coast. Another part of the hoard was found in the mid 1980-s in the Gulf of Lava again. It may be that the hoard was buried on land, with part of it found there subsequently an earthquake of landslide may have deposited the rest of it in the gulf. Whatever the explanation, this is a superb coin from a major hoard.
Mars with facial hair
That Mars was an important god is made clear about the fact that he is depicted on a lot of denarii in de middle and the late republic. Most of the time in this period only his head is shown. In contrary towards the aureus here he is not a young boy but an older man with facial hair. But on some coins we seem him in the younger version during this time. It seems that most people did not care at this time that the iconography changed.
Catalog: Cr. 234/1, Syd. 527
Weight: 3.73 g – Diameter: 18.50 mm
Obv.: Head of Mars X u. TI VE (in Ligature).
Rev. ROMA, two warriors with lances touch to swear with their swords a pig holding a kneeling man in his arms.
Catalog: Cr.319/1; Syd.592.
Weight: 3,97 g.
Roman Republican Coins, Rome. Helmeted head of Mars left / Q THERM M F Roman soldier fighting barbarian soldier in protection of fallen comrade. Splendid specimen with handsome lustrous toning., The fighting-scene alludes to the bravery shown by Thermus` namesake during the war against the Ligurians in 193 BC.
Visit the website and search for more Mars Coins in this category https://ma-shops.com/s/mc122
The next blog is the last blog in this sequel. Then I will discuss a not so famous god. I hope you will enjoy that also.
Written by Joël van Dam, Owner of Joëlnumismatics.
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