The Roman god of fire, whose name seems to be connected with fulgere, fulgur, and fulmen. His worship was of considerable political importance at Rome, for a temple is said to have been erected to him close by the Comitium as early as the time of Romulus and Tatius, in which the two kings used to meet and settle the affairs of the state, and near which the popular assembly was held.1
Tatius is reported to have established the worship of Vulcan along with that of Vesta, and Romulus to have dedicated to him a quadriga after his victory over the Fidenatans, and to have set up a statue of himself near the temple.2 According to others the temple was built by Romulus himself, who also planted near it the sacred lotus-tree which still existed in the days of Pliny.3 These circumstances, and what is related of the lotus-tree, shows that the temple of Vulcan, like that of Vesta, was regarded as a central point of the whole state, and hence it was perhaps not without a meaning that subsequently the temple of Concordia was built within the same district.4
The most ancient festival in honor of Vulcan seems to have been the Fornacalia or Furnalia, he being the god of furnaces;5 but his great festival was called Vulcanalia, and was celebrated on the 23rd of August.6 The Roman poets transfer all the stories which are related of the Greek Hephaestus to their own Vulcan, the two divinities having in the course of time been completely identified.
One Roman sarcophagus depicts Vulcan and his helpers working in his forge. Of more recent date is the "Forge of Vulcan" by Tintoretto and by Velasquez.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Roman Antiquities ii, 50; vi, 67; Plutarch. Roman Questions, 47.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Roman Antiquities ii, 54; Plutarch. Romulus, 24.
- Naturalis Historia xvi, 44; P. Victor. De Regionibus Urbis Romae iv.
- Livy. The History of Rome ix, 46; xl, 19; xxxvi, 46.
- Isodorus. 19.6. 2; Festus, p. 88.
- Dictionary of Antiquities, s.v.
- Bartelink, Dr. G.J.M. (1988). Prisma van de mythologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.