Vulcan was the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes, deserts, metalworking and the forge.

Symbols: Hammer
Parents: Jupiter and Juno
Siblings: Apollo, Bacchus, Bellona, Diana, Hercules, Mars, Minerva
Consort: Venus
Greek equivalent: Hephaestus
Festival: Vulcanalia 

Statuette Vulcanus MBA Lyon A1981.jpg
Bronze Vulcan, 1st c. AD. (c) Marie-Lan Nguyen

The Romans identified Vulcan with the Greek smith-god Hephaestus. Vulcan became associated like his Greek counterpart with the constructive use of fire in metalworking. A fragment of a Greek pot showing Hephaestus found at the Vulcanal has been dated to the 6th c. BC, suggesting that the two gods were already associated at this date. However, Vulcan had a stronger association than Hephaestus with fire’s destructive capacity and a major concern of his worshippers was to encourage the god to avert harmful fires.

Vulcan’s oldest shrine in Rome, called the Vulcanal, was situated at the foot of the Capitoline Hill in the Forum Romanum and was reputed to date to the archaic period of the kings of Rome, and to have been established on the site by Titus Tatius, the Sabine co-king, with a traditional date in the 8th c. BC. The Vulcanalia sacrifice was offered here to Vulcan, on August 23. Vulcan also had a temple on the Campus Martius, which was in existence by 214 BC.

Punishment of Ixion: in the center is Mercury holding the caduceus and on the right Juno sits on her throne. Behind her Iris stands and gestures. On the left is Vulcan standing behind the wheel, manning it, with Ixion already tied to it. Nephele sits at Mercury’s feet, House of the Vettii, Pompeii.

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