The archæological evidence (notably at Pommern) indicates that some, at least, of the ancient worshippers of Lenus Mars considered his intervention efficacious in health matters. Many warrior deities in Gaul double as health deities, partly for the same reason that we all talk about ‘battling disease’ or ‘being a fighter’ against cancer or whatever, and partly because inflicting, avoiding, and recovering from injury are of course so central to the business of battle.
For the perhaps inadequate reason that I simply couldn’t stand glasses and contacts anymore, I decided to get LASIK surgery. It’s the first and only elective surgery I’ve ever had, and I naturally gave it very serious thought. The divinatory signals I got were very favourable, and I vowed devotional sonnets, if all went well, to Lenus Mars, Mercury, and Minerva. For the first I wrote a Petrarchan, for the second a Spenserian, and for the third a Shakespearean sonnet. It’s been a long time since I’ve written sonnets of any description, and I can’t claim that any of them are destined to undying fame, but I beg my readers’ indulgence for them all. Today (Tuesday, the day of Mars), I present my votive sonnet to Lenus Mars, the ‘bosky Mars’, healer and national protector of the Treveri.
As smiths the keenest weapons shape and hone
who know their plan and see their work most clear;
as archers aim their bolts so that they will not veer
and failing vision costs the chief his throne—
so sight the martial god presides o’er as his own.
In bygone days thy votaries with rheumy tear
as their sight with passing age began to blear,
O Lenus Mars, would look to thee alone.
So now I humbly pray thee, put to flight
the phantom foes that blur, obscure, and flash
and blind me save to colour, dark, and light.
Thy healing power use; thy endless might
exert, and my affliction from me dash.
An it please thee, restore me all my sight.