Mars & Ares, Greek and Roman personifications of the same god, kick off a new Mint of Poland coin series

A new series from the Mint of Poland looks at the ‘winners and heroes’ of the ancient world, although this debut coin seems to concentrate on the duality of gods and how they’re seen by the Greeks and the Romans. This first issue takes the legendary Greek god of war, Ares, who was feared and respected, but not well liked by the Greeks. His Roman counterpart, however, Mars, while fulfilling a similar role, was widely admired as a guardian.

The coin is a fine composition of the Greek and Roman incarnations of the god, complete with the appropriate armour and weapons. Ares holds a shield with a resin infill upon which is engraved, or more likely laser-etched, a terrific image of a roaring lion. The coin has all the hallmarks of a mythology coin from the Mint of Poland, with fine composition and plenty of high-relief detail.

The obverse of this two-ounce antique-finished silver coin is a much more staid affair sadly, a shame as the mint has done some fine designs incorporating the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II for Niue. A wooden box, certificate and 500 mintage round out the details and the coin should be availablke to pre-order now.


Ares  is the Greek god of courage and war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war and is the personification of sheer brutality and bloodlust, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.

The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, “overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering.” His sons Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) and his lover, or sister, Enyo (Discord) accompanied him on his war chariot. In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality. His value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favoured the triumphant Greeks.

Ares plays a relatively limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous love affairs and abundant offspring are often alluded to. When Ares does appear in myths, he typically faces humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband’s device.

The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity. During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures later became virtually indistinguishable.

Source: Wikipedia

DENOMINATION $5 New Zealand (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, resin insert
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “ARES & MARS“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0