Mars Lenus inscription from Caerwent

Contributed by Newport Museum and Art Gallery

Mars Lenus inscription from Caerwent

The Romans generally tolerated the religions and beliefs of the people they conquered. Roman gods such as Jupiter, Mars and Venus were commonly worshipped alongside native gods. When these native gods could be linked to Roman gods they were frequently amalgamated. This is illustrated by the following inscription on a statue base from the Roman town of Caerwent.

'To the God Mars Lenus, otherwise Ocelus Vellaunus, and to the Divinity of the Emperor. Marcus Nonius Romanus presented (this statue) at his own expense in recognition of the immunity (? from tax) granted to his guild. Dated this 23rd day of August in the Consulship of Glabrio and Homulus'.

The Roman god of war 'Mars' has been linked to a similar Rhenish god 'Lenus' and in turn linked to 'Ocelus', an exclusively British god. It has been suggested that Marcus Nonius Romanus, the gentlemen who set up and dedicated the inscription was a native of the Rhineland and had come to Caerwent and settled amongst the Silures bringing with him his native religion. The inscription was a gift commemorating the immunity from taxation Marcus's guild was granted.

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A.D 152

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