By Eric Fung
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but only Miss Cleo could confirm that.
The commonly used symbol for man is the astrological sign of Mars. The relationship between the gender and the planet, however, doesn’t appear to have an academic basis.
"Mars is the Roman god of War," says Head of the Department of Greek and Roman Studies Dr. Peter Toohey. "He is the force of war, mayhem, and violence but is no more of a man than any of the other male gods."
Astrologers give a vivid description of Mars representing the prototype male, with his masculine energy, violence, virility, desire, and impressive sexual organs. According to popular culture, the circle bisected by the arrow is meant to represent Mars’ shield and spear. How astrologers adopted Mars the god as Mars the planet, however, is not certain.
"Many gods are eventually associated with planets, stars, and other things," says Toohey. "I don’t know where the Mars planet connection comes from. I don’t know my star signs and I’m not an astrologer."
Toohey offers, however, that the ancient Romans were astrologers, whereas their Greek counterparts were not. Since its adaptation, the "man symbol" has remained unchanged.
"If you’re looking for a single symbol for man, there isn’t one," he says. "Instead of becoming a stereotype, a god would be associated with one single trait, like Apollo with cognition."
Toohey jokes that a new "man symbol" may be in order to appeal to a new generation of males.
"Younger types tend to go for Dionysus rather than Apollo or Mars," Toohey says. "He’s more fun than the others."