Smertrios

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In Gallo-Roman religion, Smertrios or Smertrius was a god of war worshipped in Gaul and Noricum.[1] In Roman times he was equated with Mars. His name contains the same root as that of the goddess Rosmerta and may mean "The Purveyor" or "The Provider", a title rather than a true name. Smertulitanus may be a variant name for the same god.

Smertrius is one of the Gaulish gods depicted on the Pillar of the Boatmen, discovered in Paris. Here is depicted as a well-muscled bearded man confronting a snake which rears up in front of him. The god brandishes an object which has usually been interpreted as a club but which rather resembles a torch or firebrand.

The normal interpretation of the god's attribute as a club has led to the identification, by modern scholars, of Smertrius and Hercules. Other evidence links Smertrius with the Celtic version of Mars: at Mohn near Trier, a spring sanctuary was dedicated to Mars Smertrius and his consort Ancamna. Coins found here indicate that there was a shrine here before the Roman period. Another Treveran inscription links Mars and Smertrius. Smertrius himself is known outside Gaul, for example on a fragmentary inscription at Grossbach in Austria.

References

  • Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Miranda Green. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. 1997

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