We are still in the month of March – just about – which was not only the first month of the year in Ancient Rome, it was also the month when military campaigning began afresh, according to Professor Bethany Hughes in the BBC4 documentary Mars Uncovered: Ancient God of War.
We set off from Carthage in Tunisia to explore the significance of Mars worship from Ancient Rome up to the present day.
Mars is a mix of gods with origins in the Greek god Ares. We visit the remains of a site which housed a male Mars appreciation society – and learn about Maximilianus, possibly the first ever conscientious objector who lost his life for his principles.
From the end of the Punic Wars through Virgil’s Aeneid to the war poets of World War One, Prof Hughes explains how the influence of Mars became crucial to the war machine.
And if you ever wondered what Napoleon Bonaparte looked like in the nude, there is a treat in store. Napoleon uncovered. He also fancied himself as Mars. Look away now.
Mars Uncovered: Ancient God of War introduced by Professor Bethany Hughes is now available to view on BBC iPlayer.