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History of Mars Sign and Name

This is the symbol of the planet Mars. Mars was named after the Roman god of war because of its blood red color.

The ancient Greeks called Mars Ares. Ares, a bloodthirsty god of war, was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hera. Other gods didn't like him and prisoners of war probably hated him, since they would have to be sacrificed for him. The astronomical signs used nowadays for Mars come from the way the Greeks depicted Ares, with a shield and sword.

Romulus and Remus, the legendary founder twins of Rome, were the sons of Mars. Their mother, Rhea Silvia, was supposed to be a priestess and remain a virgin, but the "god of war" fell in love with her. According to the Roman mythology, besides being the god of war, Mars was also the god of agriculture and spring. Like the Greeks, the Romans used to offer Mars human sacrifices before military expeditions.

Around 3000 BC, the Egyptians, perhaps the first to become fixated by the stars, recognized the apparent retrograde motion of Mars and its reddish colour, naming it Sekded-ef em khetkhet, (the one "who travels backwards") or Har Decher (the "Red one").

In Babylonia, territory now occupied by Iraq, Mars was called Nergal and it was worshipped as a hero, king of conflicts and battles. In fact, the oldest observation records of the movement of Mars are Babylonian cuneiform treatises.

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