The altar was located in the ancient Forum Boarium , the cattle market, in the depression between the Palatine and Aventine hills at the foot of the Palatine and thus within the ancient Pomerium . Nearby was the Temple of Hercules Victor, a small round temple, the remains of which were demolished under Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).
Foundation and function of the Ara Maxima
The altar was allegedly donated by Hercules personally, as thanks for the fact that the inhabitants of the Palatine had supported him against Cacus and welcomed him with hospitality . Hercules not only donated the Ara Maxima, but at the same time also set up a cult of his own to worship himself. According to legend, he himself taught the members of two patrician families in the ceremonies of the cult. From then on, these two families, the Potitier and the Pinarians , took care of the cult as a private cult, initially without state recognition. The Potitiers were responsible for the actual act of sacrifice, the Pinarians were only allowed to perform the serving acts in carrying out the sacrifice and to supervise the place of worship.
The feast for Hercules Victor, also called Hercules Invictus, took place on August 12th ( pridie Idus Sextilis = the day before the Iden des Sextilis , later August). From the year 312 BC The cult of Hercules was national at the instigation of Appius Claudius Caecus . Hercules was officially worshiped as a Roman god from now on. Instead of the Potitier, who had previously carried out the acts of sacrifice, the respective Praetor urbanus now carried out the sacrifices. Only men were allowed in the acts of sacrifice for Hercules. They had to attend the religious ceremonies with their heads wreathed with laurels. In contrast to sacrifices for other Roman deities, no other gods were additionally allowed to be implored in sacrifices for Hercules (i.e. no generalis invocatio ).
The Ara Maxima also developed into a popular place of sacrifice for merchants outside of the official offerings for Hercules. Oaths were sworn and business sworn on the altar. In order to vote God favorable for the success of business processes, it was customary to sacrifice ten percent of the profit to God. Since Hercules only accepted animal sacrifices and donations in kind, huge sacrificial meals developed over time, because Hercules not only did not accept any sacrifices in money, but also expected that the donated natural products would be consumed immediately and at the Forum Boarium. So there were more and more huge feasts. Famous is the sacrificial meal of Marcus Licinius Crassus , the richest man in Rome at the time, who donated a tenth of his enormous fortune and entertained the Roman citizens generously for three months.
- Howard Hayes Scullard : Roman Festivals. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1985, pp. 237-238.
- Ludwig Preller : Roman mythology. Phaidon-Verlag, Essen 1997, pp. 317-318.
- Ludwig Preller: Roman mythology. Phaidon-Verlag, Essen 1997, p. 318.
- Howard Hayes Scullard: Roman Festivals. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1985, p. 237.
- Howard Hayes Scullard: Roman Festivals. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1985, p. 238.
- Howard Hayes Scullard: Roman Festivals. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1985, p. 240.
- Ludwig Preller: Roman mythology. Phaidon-Verlag, Essen 1997, p. 319.
- Ludwig Preller : Roman mythology. Phaidon-Verlag, Essen 1997, ISBN 3-88851-220-4 .
- Howard Hayes Scullard : Roman Festivals. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1985, ISBN 3-8053-0555-9 .
- Filippo Coarelli : Hercules Invictus, Ara Maxima. In: Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae. Vol. 3, Quasar, Rom 1996, pp. 15-17.