Prayers to Mars

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Prayers to Mars and the Gods of War


M. Porcius Cato De Agricultura 141

"Father Mars, I pray and beseech You, to be willing and propitious to me, to our household and to our family, for which I have ordered this suovitaurilia to be driven around my grain fields, my land, and my estate, in order that You may prevent, repel, and avert, seen and unseen <decay and> disease, deprivation, desolation, calamities, and intemperate weather; I pray You allow the fruits, the grain, the vines, and the bushes, to grow strong and well and be brought to the storage pit. May You also keep the shepherds and their flocks safe, and give good health and vigor to me, to the household, and to our family. To this end it is, as I have said - namely, for the purification and lustration of my estate, my land, and my grain fields, cultivated and uncultivated - that I pray You may be honored and strengthened by this suovitaurilia, these suckling sacrificial victims. O Father Mars, to this same end I pray that You bless these sucklings in sacrifice."

Claudius Claudianus In Rufinum 1.334-48

"Mars, whether you rush down from the cloud-capped Mount Haemus, whether on the frosty white mountains of Thrace, whether stirring on Monte Santo in Macedonia with the black boots of soldiers stationed on all the lands they hold, to make ready with me, and defend your Thrace, if it is made happy, the campaign coming into glory, the sacred oak will be dressed with an offering of spolia."

Hearing his prayer, Father Mars arose from the snow-topped crag of Mount Haemus exhorting His swift ministers: "Bellona, bring my helmet; attend me, Pavor, fasten the wheels upon my war chariot; Formido, bridle my swift horses in harness. Hastily press forward on your work. See, (he) makes ready himself for war; Stilicho whose habit it is to load me with rich trophies and hang upon the oak the plumed helmets of his enemies. For us together the trumpets ever sound the call to battle; yoking my chariot I follow wheresoever he pitches his camp."

Corpus Inscriptiones Latinae VI 2104, Rome, Carmen Fratrum Arvalium

Lasas assist us, Lasas delight us, Lasas come to our aid! Neither plague nor ruin, Marmor, allow to be visited on us. But if however we are invaded, like Mars we shall leap across our borders To sate you with the blood of our enemies and stay the barbarians. Marmor assist us, Marmor defend us, Marmor come to our aid. Triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph!

Gellius Noctes Atticae 13.23.13

When Titus Tatius spoke in favor of peace, among his words was this prayer, Neria, wife of Mars, I appeal to you, give peace. May you use your own favored position with your husband; counsel Him to partake in this plan. In the same way as we reconcile ourselves to those who carried off our daughters, may you now join with Him for all times in favoring His.

Horace Carmina 1.2.35-40

Father Mars, too long have You neglected to look upon Your nation and upon Your grandchildren. Alas, for too long have You been absent in the game of war. Recall Your delight in the clash of battle; come, Mars, take pride once more in the sight of polished Roman helmets gleaming, and how the battle hardened legions meet the grimacing Maurians in battle. Come now, we pray.

Livy 8.9.6-8

Janus, Jupiter, Father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, You divine Novensiles and You divine Indigetes, deities whose power extends over us and over our foes, and to You, too, Divine Manes, I pray, I do You reverence, I crave Your grace and favour will bless the Roman People, the Quirites, with power and victory, and will visit fear, dread and death on the enemies of the Roman People, the Quirites. In like manner as I have uttered this prayer so do I now on behalf of the commonwealth of the Quirites, on behalf of the army, the legions, the auxiliaries of the Roman People, the Quirites, devote the legions and auxiliaries of the enemy, together with myself to Tellus and the Divine Manes.

Livy 10.19.17-18

If today, Bellona, You grant us victory, a new temple I vow.

Livy 19.27.1 ff.

When dawn arrived Scipio emerged from his headquarters in ritual decorum to pray before the advance guard. He prayed, Gods and Goddesses who inhabit the land and sea, to You I pray and ask that whatsoever has been done under my auspices and my command, is now being done or shall be done, may prove beneficial for me, for the people of Rome and their children, and for our allies and the Latins, who joined with the Roman army under my auspices in waging war on land and sea. May Your good counsel and assistance be with me and may You bless all our endeavors with rich increase. May You guard the welfare and sustenance of our soldiers, allow the victors to return home healthy and safe, and laden with the spoils of victory. May they bring back honors and plunder to share in my triumphal procession after defeating our enemy. Grant to me and to the Roman people the power of vengeance and the opportunity and means to inflict on our enemies the same as the Carthaginians have striven to inflict against the people of Rome and thereby an example shall be set for others.

Lucan De Bello Civili: Pharsalia 2.47-49

Gods above, we do not pray for peace. Grant rage onto the nations. May You now arouse the cities; bring forth the whole world in arms to war.

Macrobius Saturnalia 3.9.7-8: Scipio Africanus' evocation of the Gods of Carthage.

Whether you are a god or a goddess of these people who defends this city of Carthage, and you Most High, take back your favor in defense of this city and these people whom I attack. I pray, I beseech, I ask your indulgence, that you withdraw and desert these people and this city of Carthage, and that you relinquish the temples and sacred precincts of this city, go away without them, and incite these people and their city into fear of oblivion. Come then to favor Rome by crossing over to me and my army, and with our city tried and accepted as the location for your sacred precincts and holy rites, be propitious to me and the people of Rome, and my soldiers. If you make this happen, with clear and recognizable signs, I vow to erect temples for you and to initiate games in your honor.

Macrobius Saturnalia 3.9.10-11: The devotio of Carthage to the Gods of the Underworld

Dis Pater, Veiovis, and Di Manes, or with any other name by which it is proper to call You, since all in this city of Carthage and its army, who, I feel, fled before me in terror only because you filled them with alarm and fright, everyone who opposes our legions and the wall of shields of our army, and our missiles are carried forward on them by your hand, in this way you led away the enemy army and their soldiers. Their city and fields, and those who are in this place and this region, the lands and cities that they inhabit, you have now deprived them of the supreme light, their hostile army, their city and their lands. I feel to say that it was you who has devoted and consecrated this city and its lands, from the beginning and all time, that by law, who and when are made over and devoted as the highest sacrifices. Therefore, I who am victorious, by my faith as a magistrate of the people of Rome, and as commander of the armies, I give this vow on behalf of the people of Rome, our armies and legions, that you may retain everything born to this land and that grew in healthy by your aid. If you will make this happen, so that I may know, sense and derive that this has happened, then by whatever vow will have been made, wherever it will have been made, may it be properly made with sheep sacrificed upon the tribal altars. I call upon Tellus, Mother Earth, and You mighty Jupiter, to act as witnesses to my vow.

Ovid Fasti 3.1-2

Bellicose Mars, lay aside for awhile Your round bronze shield and spear. Mars, be present and let loose from its helmet Your sleek, shining hair.

Ovid Fasti 3.73-6

Arbiter of arms, from whose blood I am believed to have been born, and many the proofs I will give that are accepted, after You we will begin the Roman year, from Your name, Father, we will name the first month of the year.

Ovid Fasti 4.827

Then king Romulus said, As I found this city, be present, Jupiter, Father Mars, and Mother Vesta, and all gods who it is pious to summon, join together to attend. Grant that my work may rise with Your auspices. Grant that it may for many years hold dominion on earth, and assert its power over the east and west.

Ovid Fasti 5.573-77

If, Father, my war is authorized by Vesta's priestess, and whenever I prepare to take divine vengeance, Mars, be by my side and satiate cold steel with guilt's blood, and lend Your favour to the better side. If I am victorious for You I'll build a shrine and call You Ultor, Mars the Avenger.

Plautus Bacchides 847-48

Mars and Bellona, never trust me again, if I do not make him breathless, if ever I should meet him once more and not take away his vital breath.

Silius Italicus Punica 3.126-27

But You, O (Mars) Father of Warfare, have pity on us, turn evil aside from us and preserve (my husband's) life as inviolable to all Trojan assaults.

Silius Italicus Punica 10.553-54

Father Mars, You who were not at all deaf to my vows, these men, survivors of the battle, dedicate to You the choicest armour of our victory trophies.

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 5.250-52

Mars Gradivus, hear me, on whose sacred oak which fleece glitters. Protect it and keep it safe always, your arms prepared to clash at the clarion's sound to which your voice responds, ringing out in the darkness.

Vellius Paterculus II 131

Jupiter Capitolinus, Mars Gradivus called progenitor and aide of the Romans, Vesta, perpetual guardian of fire, and whatever divine powers in this greatness of Roman sovereignty, the largest empire on earth, exulted to the highest dignity, to You the public voice calls to witness and to pray: guard, preserve, and protect this state, this peace, this prince, and those who succeed to the Senate, by their long standing, determined worthy to consider the most grave matters among mortals.

Virgil Aeneid 12.176-82; 197-211

May the Sun now bear witness, and so too the Earth, I pray, for whom I have been able to endure these many labors, and you, Almighty Father, and you his consort, (Juno), daughter of Saturnus, at one time more beneficial, at another kinder, be so now as I pray to you, O Goddess, and to you, too, Father Mavors, who wields all warfare under your powers, and on all the springs and rivers of this land I invoke as witnesses, and all the powers of the high heavens and those of the deep blue seas on whom it is proper to call.

By these same deities I, Aeneas, swear, by the Earth and the Sea, by the stars and Latona's twin children, and dual-faced Janus, and the powers of the gods below, and the harsh shrines of Father Dis. May the Great Father hear my vow, he that sanctions alliances with his thunderbolt. I touch the altars, and by the fires and by the divine powers who I have called to witness, I so swear, that never shall I breach this alliance or the peace of Italy, no matter what or how things happen, nothing shall divert my will (to keep my vow), not even if waves would cover the earth, plunging all into deluge, and the Heavens fell into deepest Tartarus. (By this vow I swear to be bound), even as this scepter, (the scepter that he now held up in his right hand), shall never bud new foliage, or branch out to lend shade, once it was cut deep in the forest, seized from its mother tree, its leaves and branches now encased in steel; once a tree, now an artifact turned by hand, decorated with bronze, and given to the Latin fathers to bear.

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