American Gods Wiki
American Gods Wiki

Those who worship hold the volcano in the palm of their hand. It's filled with prayers in my name. The power of fire is firepower. Not God but god-like. And they believe.

–Vulcan, "A Murder of Gods"

Vulcan was a Roman God of fire, forge, metalworking, and volcanoes. He is one of Mr. Wednesday’s oldest allies. He has created a comfortable life for himself by harnessing his powers for the modern world, which makes him resistant to Wednesday’s plans.[1] Vulcan does not appear in the novel.


As the god of weaponry and fire, Vulcan has done well for himself in America's gun-obsessed culture.[2] He is known to the old gods as the "god of volcanoes". Vulcan was bitter for being forgotten and unworshipped, but then he learned to "franchise" his faith by receiving an upgrade from the new gods and becoming the god of firearms. He made a bullet factory in his name with those who fired the bullets "praying" in his name. In order to further sustain himself, human sacrifices are made by having employees at his factory fall into his smelter.

Significance in series[]

"A Murder of Gods"[]

In Virginia, the company town of Vulcan ammo is starting its morning. The supervisor greets employees as they go about their jobs. He heads upstairs to a catwalk over vats of molten metal. He leans against a railing that gives way and sends him plummeting into one of the vats, dissolving him into bullets. Shadow and Wednesday arrive to deserted streets. Shadow spots several white townspeople dressed in uniforms with red armbands and carting around rifles. They come across the funeral parade where the rest of the townspeople are marching behind Vulcan. Wednesday explains how a couple of people a year die in sacrifice at the factory because it's cheaper for the company to settle than to update the safety of the plant.

The crowd gathers in front of Vulcan as he gives a speech. Wednesday parks the car and gets out with a bottle of Soma to convince Vulcan to join him in his war. Vulcan finishes his speech and the crowd shoots their guns and rifles up into the air, causing Shadow to flinch. Vulcan tells the crowd to go in peace and Wednesday suggests for Shadow to take cover. Shadow gets back into the car as it starts raining bullets down, denting Betty yet falling harmlessly around Vulcan and Wednesday. After the bullets stop falling, Shadow joins Wednesday and Vulcan, confirming what Vulcan heard about Wednesday's plans to start a war. Vulcan offers to get them something to eat.

Shadow stares at a noose hanging from a tree as Vulcan tells him it was an "old hanging tree." Shadow turns around and when he turns back, the noose is gone. Vulcan offers for them to stay as long as they like while Betty is getting fixed up but Shadow wants to leave. Instead, they head inside Vulcan's house, gratuitously littered with preserved animal carcasses and rifle racks. Vulcan pours a drink for himself and Wednesday, outright denying Shadow anything to drink. He discusses how sacrifices have built up his mini empire and suggests Wednesday could have the same by sacrificing himself as he had done before. Shadows looks uneasily out the window at the hanging tree as Vulcan asks him if he has ever seen anyone hanged before and that it's a terrible way to find faith. Vulcan has "franchised" his worship and he pulls out a gun as he explains that the people believe and worship him through firepower. He aims and shoots at a mounted deer head. Wednesday invites him to join them in Wisconsin but asks him to forge a sword for him first. Vulcan agrees and leaves them alone.

Shadow asks Wednesday if Vulcan is trustworthy and confronts him about how Vulcan knew Shadow had been lynched by Technical Boy. Wednesday claims he said nothing but the New Gods also knew about the lynching. He is going to have Vulcan make a weapon to deal with it.

Deep within the factory and over vats of liquid metal, Vulcan forges Wednesday's sword. Wednesday compliments Vulcan on his craftsmanship, favoring it over the manufactured guns Vulcan now makes. Vulcan tells him that he gets more blood spilled in sacrifice with bullets than with blades and Wednesday could use a blood sacrifice of his own. He questions why Wednesday is starting this war and says it sounds like Wednesday is the only one benefiting. Wednesday asks if Vulcan told the New Gods they were in town and Vulcan confirms they are coming. They put power back into Vulcan's hand when he was just a forgotten story and now he is prayed to with bullets. He calls Wednesday a martyr but Wednesday denies it, saying it is actually Vulcan's role. Vulcan pledged allegiance to Wednesday and forged him a blade and the New Gods killed him for it. Wednesday swings the blade and slices Vulcan's head off. He kicks Vulcan into the vat below and watches as he dissolves. Shadow is freaking out as Wednesday hands him the blade and unzips his pants. He urinates into the vat to curse the bullets made.

Powers and abilities[]

As the god of smiths and forges, Vulcan has the ability to create powerful and magical weapons, able to kill even a god. Indeed, the bullets produced by his factory were able to kill an incarnaton of Jesus, and Mr. Wednesday requested him to create a similar god-killing weapon, a sword. Vulcan was also showed in A Murder of Gods to be magically protected against a rain of bullets falling from the sky, that carefully avoided both him and Mr. Wednesday.

Vulcan's powers feed indirectly from the numerous deaths caused by the firearms he produces, each bullet a "prayer" in his name. More directly, Vulcan influences events so that from time to time "accidents" would happen in his factory, killing an employee that will become a sacrifice to the god.



American Gods - Season 1, Episode 6 Clip- American Gods - Vulcan - Season 1

Cultural Background[]

Vulcan was one of the principal Roman gods, and the god of fire.

He originally was one of the oldest Latin gods. Probably derived from the Cretan god Velchanos (the youthful supreme god of the Cretan pantheon, master of fire, later identified with the Greek Zeus), Vulcan used to be the Latin god Volcanus, king of the gods, husband of Juno. Associated with Maia, an earthly and motherly goddess of growth, and Vesta, the goddess of earth and the hearth, he was the father of many children, from legendary heroes and mythical kings to dreaded monsters. He usually impregnated mortal women by manifesting through the sparks or the ashes of the hearth’s fire. Some theorize that he was the father of Jupiter from Fortuna, the goddess of luck and fortune.

God of fire, but also of the lightning and the sun, he was a dreaded god, feared for his destructive behavior. The main purpose of his worship was to prevent him from creating harmful fires, or to convince him to stop already existing fires. [3] He was also, in a paradoxical way, a god of the hearth and of the fertilizing heat (as shown by his many descendants). Hints seem to indicate that Volcanus used to be the local military god before Mars. God of Rome, it was told he had a hand in its construction. His oldest shrine was the the Vulcanal, said to have been built in the eighth century BC by Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines and co-ruler of Rome, on the site where a peace treaty between the Sabines (led by Titus) and the Latins (led by Romulus) was signed, unifying the two tribes as the Roman state.

When the Roman Empire incorporated the Greek gods into their own pantheon, Volcanus, now named Vulcan, became associated with Hephaestus, the Greek god of the forge. Vulcan became the son of Jupiter and Juno, king and queen of the gods, and the divine smith, who forged the weapons, chariots and thrones of the other god. He became the husband of Venus, goddess of love and beauty, and was said to live in his smithy, located under the Etna (a Sicilian volcano). Whenever Venus was unfaithful to him, Vulcan would angrily beat red-hot metals in his smithy, causing rains of sparks and huge dark clouds, resulting in the Etna erupting. Vulcan also assimilated a lot of Hephaestus legends: just like him he became rejected by his mother due to his ugliness, thrown from the top of Olympus, leaving him crippled, raised underwater by the marine deity Thetis and gained back his place in Olympus by imprisoning his mother in a trap shaped like a throne.

Vulcan’s major holiday was the Vulcanalia, on Augustus 23rd, when the crops were at the highest risk of burning due to the summer heat and dryness. During this festival, fishes and small animals were thrown alive into the bonfires, as an offering to the god. The purpose of this ritual was to prevent the fire from consuming humans by “feeding” it beasts beforehand. After the Great Fire of Rome, in 64 AD, seen as a manifestation of Vulcan’s wrath, the emperor Domitian ordered that red bull-claves and red boars had to be added to the list of Vulcanalia sacrifices.

Usually represented as a bearded god, sometimes with a facial deformity, he wore a pilleus (a brimless, felt cap) and a short tunic revealing his right arm and shoulder. He got from Hephaestus the attributes of the hammer, the pliers and the anvil. Associated with ovens, he became the patron of cooks, bakers and confectioners, to the point of being described by Apuleius as the cook of divine marriage feasts. [4]

Vulcan still benefits from a certain popularity in modern days. The word “volcano” is a derived from his name. He is the patron of the English steel-making city of Sheffield, where he has several statues. He is also the mascot of the California University of Pennsylvania, and a statue of him was erected in Birmingham, Alabama. It is considered the largest cast iron statue in the world and was probably the one that inspired Neil Gaiman to create the character of Vulcan for the television series.

Notes and trivia[]

He’s a brand-new addition who came from an experience Neil had. He was going through a small town in Alabama where he saw a statue of Vulcan. It was a steel town and, as he told the story, there was a factory that had a series of accidents where people were killed on the job and they kept happening because an actuarial had done the numbers and realized that it was cheaper to pay out the damages to the families of people who lost people, rather than to shut down the factory long enough to repair, and that occurred to him as modern a definition of sacrifice as there might be.

–Michael Green, Entertainment Weekly

  • Vulcan is the first character announced that does not appear in the novel.[5]
    • He was created by Neil Gaiman specifically for the series. Gaiman spotted a Vulcan statue while traveling through a steel town in Alabama.[6]
  • Bryan Fuller mentionned on his Twitter that the town of Vulcan was visually inspired by the art of Edward Hopper. [7]