display | more...

The Roman legend of Praeneste (the modern Palestrina, situated on the hills which mark the border between Latium and the Sabine territory) ascribes the foundation of the town to a hero named Caeculus, the son of Culvan. The legend maintains that at one time there lived in this country two brothers called the Depidii, who were shepherds. They had a sister and one day when she was sitting near the hearth in her house a spark flew out of the fire and jumped onto her bosom; almost at once she felt that she had conceived a child. A son was born to her and she abandoned him near the temple of Jupiter but some young women on their way to fetch water at the spring nearby found the infant beside a lighted fire and took it to the two Depidii. They brought the child up, and called him Caeculus (from caecus 'blind') when they first saw him, for the smoke of the fire by which he had been found had made his eyes water and he seemed to be blind.

During his upbringing among the shepherds Caeculus lived by pillaging, as was customary in those days. After he had grown up, he and some companions founded the village which was destined to become Praeneste. On the day when the inauguration of the new town was to be celebrated, he invited those who lived nearby and were coming to settle in the town, and to induce them to come he asked his father Vulcan to produce a wonderful spectacle: Vulcan sent down flames, which encircled the crowd and extinguished themselves as soon as Caeculus bade them. This miracle made the town's fortune, for a great many people came to settle there, to be under the protection of the god and his son. The gens Caecilia claimed to be descended from Caeculus.


Table of Sources
- Serv. on Virgil, Aen. 7, 678
- Verona schol. on Virgil, Aen. 7, 681 (Thilo/Hagen III. 2, 438)
- Solinus 2, 9
- Mythogr. Vat. 1, 84 (Bode, Script. Rer. Myth.)