Richardson, L. jr

Volcanal: probably the same as the Area Volcani, an area adjacent to the Forum Romanum where there was an altar of Vulcan supposed to have been erected by Titus Tatius (Dion. Hal. 2.50.3; Varro Ling. 5.74). The Volcanal was distinctly higher than the forum (Dion. Hal. 2.50.2; A. Gellius 4.5.4) and the Comitium (Festus 370L), and in the regal period and early republic the kings and magistrates transacted public business there (Dion. Hal. 2.50.2), and public assemblies were regularly held there (Dion. Hal. 6.67.2, Dion. Hal. 7.17.2, Dion. Hal. 11.39.1). The Volcanal was also big enough to include a bronze aedicula of Concordia, dedicated there in 304 B.C. All this taken together indicates that originally the Volcanal covered the lower slope of the Capitoline along the stair that extended the line of the Sacra Via up the hill, an area later covered by the Temple of Concordia. The Volcanal was large enough for rains of blood to be observed there (Livy 39.46.5, Livy 40.19.2) and for numerous dedications to have found place there.

The earliest of the dedications was a bronze quadriga supposed to have been offered by Romulus (Dion. Hal. 2.54.2). There was also a statue of Horatius Cocles, originally erected in the Comitium, but moved after lightning struck it (A. Gellius 4.5.1-4; Aur. Vict. De Vir. Ill. 11.2; Plutarch Poplic. 16.7), as well as a statue of a player killed in the circus that was mounted on a column over his grave (Festus 370L). There grew there a lotus tree and a cypress of great age, the former so big that its roots extended to the Forum Iulium (Pliny HN 16.236). A base dedicated to Vulcan by Augustus in 9 B.C. was found near the church of S. Adriano (CIL 6.457 = ILS 93). The cult must have existed until the time of Pliny, although the Area Volcani must by then have shrunk through erosion of its boundaries to a small plot immediately around the altar, perhaps in the area to one side of the stair of the Temple of Concordia. The latest public assembly we hear of there was one that Appius Claudius the decemvir called in 450 B.C., the last rain of blood one in 181 B.C. (Livy 40.19.2). The festival of Vulcan was the Volcanalia on 23 August, at which time he was worshiped here, together with Maia (Degrassi 500-501), and offerings of live fish were made on his altar (Festus 276L).

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