Roman fresco showing Hercules standing next to Juno and Minerva, from the College of the Augustales, Herculaneum.  

Demi-god Hercules had particular significance in Herculaneum, which he mythologically founded, and was consequently named after him:

As one of his twelve labours, Hercules was sent to the western edge of the world, to Gades (modern, Cadiz, Spain). Having defeated the monster Geryon there, he drove Geryon’s herd of cattle back to Greece, passing through Italy on his travels. As he did so, he was said to have bestowed upon Pompeii its name […and] nearby Herculaneum was also reputedly founded by the Greek hero and named after him. […] At Herculaneum, the hero featured in sizable wall paintings found in various public buildings.

-Pompeii and Herculaneum: A Sourcebook (2013).

Herculaneum was one of the Roman towns destroyed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Once a wealthier town than Pompeii, the eruption covered Herculaneum under approximately 20 meters (65 feet) of ash. Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was buried deep enough to ensure that the upper storeys of buildings remained intact, with the hotter ash preserving wooden household objects and even food. It is thought that up to 75% of the town remains buried. The location of the shown fresco, the College of the Augustales, was a meeting place for priests of the Imperial cult.

Photos courtesy & taken by Dave and Margie Hill.

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