Divine Altar to Mars and Venus

The altar dedicated to Roman deities Mars and Venus, representing Romulus and Remus’ divine lineage.

It portrays the god Tiberinus, “Father Tiber,” with the young twins nourished by a she-wolf in the Lupercal. To the left, a vulture from the augury contest and the Palatine Hill are depicted.

As of 2023, this artifact resides in Rome’s National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.


Mars, the god of war, and Venus, the goddess of love, are central figures in Roman mythology. Mars is said to be the divine father of Romulus and Remus, while Venus is considered a divine ancestress of the twins, tying them to the legacy and divinity of some of Rome’s most venerated deities.

Tiberinus, or “Father Tiber,” is the personification of the River Tiber. His presence on the altar reinforces the river’s importance in the Romulus and Remus narrative, from their abandonment and rescue to the eventual location of Rome’s founding.

One of the most iconic images from Roman mythology is the depiction of the infant twins being suckled by a she-wolf in the Lupercal (a sacred cave where the she-wolf was said to have nursed them). This scene underscores the miraculous survival and divine protection of Romulus and Remus.

According to the legend, the twins disagreed on which hill to establish their city. They decided to resolve the matter through augury, which is the interpretation of bird signs. Each twin stood on a hill (Romulus on Palatine and Remus on Aventine) and observed the skies. Remus saw six vultures first, but Romulus later saw twelve. This led to further disputes, with each twin claiming the gods’ favor based on his own sightings.

The presence of the Palatine Hill on the altar denotes its significance in the legend. Eventually, Romulus would found Rome on this hill, making it the most important of the city’s seven hills.