Roman Bronze Figurine of Mars Ultor (the Avenger) with Silver Inlay, 2nd-3rd Century AD
The Emperor Augustus created the cult of “Mars the Avenger” to mark two occasions: his defeat of the assassins of Caesar at Philippi in 42 BC, and the negotiated return of the Roman battle standards that had been lost to the Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. The Temple of Mars Ultor (photo) was dedicated in 2 BC in the center of the Forum of Augustus. The new temple became the point of departure for magistrates as they left for military campaigns abroad and Augustus required the Senate to meet at the temple when deliberating questions of war and peace.
Mars Ultor is usually depicted wearing a cuirass and helmet and standing in a “martial pose,” leaning on a lance he holds in his right hand (now missing, along with his arm). He also usually holds a shield in his left hand (also missing in the present example). During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the cult of Mars Ultor was most important among the deities honored in Roman military camps.