Statuettes of gods were given as votive offerings at temples and shrines throughout the Graeco-Roman world, and this bronze figure of Mars may have been created for this purpose. The Romans, however, also had a tradition of ancestor worship within their homes. A small shrine, called a lararium, included representations of household guardians (lars) and a genius, the spirit of the paterfamilias (father or male head of the household). Images of other gods from whom the family sought protection were also included, and this statuette could have been used for this purpose as well. Although his legs and part of a hand are damaged, this figure of Mars is finely made; he would have held a spear, which is also missing.
Imperial period, 1st–2nd century AD
H. 5 9/16 in. (14.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 78.70