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In Italian mythology, a fire-spitting giant, the son of Vulcan, who lived near the place where Rome was afterwards built. When Hercules came into the neighbourhood with the cattle of Geryon, Cacus stole some of them while the hero was sleeping and dragged them backwards into his cave under a spur of the Aventine, so that their footprints gave no clue to the direction in which they had gone. He then closed the entrance to the cave with a rock, which ten pairs of oxen were unable to move. But the lowing of the cattle guided the hero, in his search, to the right track. He tore open the cave, and, after a fearful struggle, slew Cacus with his club (Ovid, Fast. i. 543 foll). Upon this he built an altar on the spot to Iupiter, under the title of Pater Inventor, “the discoverer,” and sacrificed one of the cattle upon it. The inhabitants paid him every honour for freeing them of the monster; and Evander, who had been instructed by his mother, Carmentis, in the lore of prophecy, saluted him as a god. Hercules is then said to have established his own religious service, and to have instructed two noble families, the Potitii and the Pinarii, in the usages to be observed at the sacrifice (Livy, i. 7). This sacrifice was to be offered on the Ara Maxima, which he himself had built on the cattle-market (Forum Boarium) where the cattle had been pastured.

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 7
    • Ovid, Fasti, 1
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