Vulcan (Latin: Vulcanus), aka Mulciber, is the god of
beneficial and hindering fire, including the fire of
volcanoes in ancient Roman religion and Roman Neopaganism. He
is known as Sethlans in Etruscan mythology. He was worshipped
at an annual festival on August 23 known as the Volcanalia.
The god belongs to the most ancient stage of Roman religion:
Varro citing the Annales Maximi, recalls that king Titus
Tatius had dedicated altars to a series of deities among which
Vulcan is mentioned.
Vulcan was identified with the Greek god of fire and smithery,
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. (Dionys. A. R. 2.50, 6.67; Plut.
Quaest. Rom. 47.）
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. (Dionys. A.
R. 2.54; Plut. Rom. 24.) 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.
(H. N. 16.44; P. Victor, Reg. Urb. iv.) 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 Concord
was built within the same district. (Liv. 9.46, 40.19,
36.46.) The most ancient festival in honour of Vulcan seems
to have been the Fornacalia or Furnalia, he being the god of
furnaces (Isidor. 19.6. 2; Fest. p. 88); but his great
festival was called Vulcanalia, and was celebrated on the
23d of August. (Dict. of Ant. s. v.) 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. - A
Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
William Smith, Ed.