The Temple of Mars Ultor, established by Augustus in 2 BC as a center for fostering Mars the Avenger, was equipped with an altar and a golden statue of Ultio. The ultio represented by the god was problematic as a cultural value since it might be difficult to distinguish between righteous retribution and simple revenge. Emperors had to balance their ultio with a quality like clementia, toleration, or kindness. The cult and temple were established by Augustus only 40 years after the murder of Julius Caesar, whose adopted heir he was, to commemorate the return of the Roman military standards taken by the Parthians at the disastrous Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Augustus honored Mars Ultor and Ultio in his capacity as the avenging of Caesar’s murder. Effective ultio, according to Seneca, needed self-control or moderation; it should produce a good example and not be carried out while being affected by passion.
Featured image: A panoramic view of the Temple of Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger) in Rome, taken from the steps (that is, below the Via dei Fori Imperiali)
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