Great Altar of Hercules

The Great Altar of Unconquered Hercules (Latin: Herculis Invicti Ara Maxima[1]) stood in the Forum Boarium of ancient Rome. It was the earliest cult-centre of Hercules in Rome, predating the circular Temple of Hercules Victor. Roman tradition made the spot the site where Hercules slew Cacus and ascribed to Evander of Pallene its erection. [2] Virgil's 'Aeneid' tells of Evander relaying the original creation of the Ara Maxima to Potitius and the Pinarii. [3]

The original altar burned in the Great Fire of Rome, CE64,[4] but was rebuilt and was still standing in the fourth century. A tentative identification of a tufa platform in the crypt of Santa Maria in Cosmedin with the foundation of the altar has been made by Filippo Coarelli and other archaeologists.[5][6]

Various references, with Varro as their source, justified the exclusion of women from ceremonies here, or of partaking in the sacrificial meats.[7] The rites at the Ara Maxima were unique within the cult of Hercules in that they were performed ritu Graeco, with heads uncovered.[8]


  1. ^ Tacitus and Juvenal both refer to the altar as magna (great") instead of maxima ("greatest")
  2. ^ The exhaustive treatment of the foundation myths surrounding the Ara Maxima is in James G. Winter, The Myth of Hercules at Rome (University of Michigan Studies 4) 1910.
  3. ^ Virgil's Aeneid 8.270
  4. ^ Tacitus, Annals, xv.41
  5. ^ Coarelli, F. Il foro boario dalle origini alla fine della repubblica. Edizioni Quasar, Rome, 1992, vol. 2:61-77.
  6. ^ Claridge, A. Rome. Oxford University Press, 1998, pages 256-258.
  7. ^ Celia E. Schultz, "Modern prejudice and ancient praxis: female worship of Hercules at Rome" Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 133 (2000:291-297) pp 292ff.
  8. ^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, iii.6.17;

External links

Coordinates: 41°53′20″N 12°28′52″E / 41.8889°N 12.4811°E

Anicius Faustus Paulinus (consul 298)

(Sextus or Marcus) Anicius Faustus Paulinus or Paulinianus (c. 240 - aft. 300) was a Roman senator who was appointed consul in AD 298.

Evander of Pallene

In Roman mythology, Evander (from Greek Εὔανδρος Euandros, "good man" or "strong man": an etymology used by poets to emphasize the hero's virtue) was a culture hero from Arcadia, Greece, who brought the Greek pantheon, laws, and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, sixty years before the Trojan War. He instituted the festival of the Lupercalia. Evander was deified after his death and an altar was constructed to him on the Aventine Hill.

In addition, Strabo, mention that one of the stories about Rome is that it was an Arcadian colony and was founded by Evander.

Forum Boarium

The Forum Boarium (Italian: Foro Boario) was the cattle forum venalium of Ancient Rome. It was located on a level piece of land near the Tiber between the Capitoline, the Palatine and Aventine hills. As the site of the original docks of Rome (Portus Tiberinus), the Forum Boarium experienced intense commercial activity.

The Forum Boarium was the site of the first gladiatorial contest at Rome which took place in 264 BC as part of aristocratic funerary ritual—a munus or funeral gift for the dead. Marcus and Decimus Junius Brutus Scaeva put on a gladiatorial combat in honor of their deceased father with three pairs of gladiators.

The site was also a religious centre housing the Temple of Hercules Victor, the Temple of Portunus (Temple of Fortuna Virilis), and the massive 6th or 5th century BC Great Altar of Hercules.

Hercules (disambiguation)

Hercules is the Roman adaptation of the Greek mythological hero Heracles.

List of ancient monuments in Rome

This is a list of ancient monuments from republican and imperial periods in the city of Rome, Italy.

Outline of ancient Rome

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient Rome:

Ancient Rome – former civilization that thrived on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world.

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