Romulus, Remus, and the Beginning of Rome

Romulus and Remus, by Peter Paul Rubens, wikipedia commons. Found in the Capitoline Museum.

Romulus and Remus, by Peter Paul Rubens, wikipedia commons. Found in the Capitoline Museum.

The founding brothers of Rome, their life is largely recalled in part myth, part legend. The story was originally told to me as a children’s story and began something like this:

A long time ago, there lived a good king Numitor. King of Alba Longa, Numitor had a jealous brother named Amulius who one day took the throne from his good and just brother. To make sure no one would over throw him, Amulius locked Numitor’s daughter Rhea Silvia in a convent, to make sure she would never have children. But Rhea Silvia was visited by Mars, the God of War. She gave birth to not just one son but two, Romulus and Remus. The evil king took the children and sent them down the Tiber River in a basket. But the calm river washed the basket ashore at the bottom of a hill. There, a she-wolf found them and cared for them. The twins were found by a shepherd who raised them.

When Romulus and Remus were grown up they took the throne of Alba Longa back and restored their grandfather King Numitor. But then the young men wanted to found a city of their own. Romulus liked the Palatine Hill but Remus liked the Aventine Hill. They considered the auspices and the signs favored Romulus. He killed his brother and founded the city of Rome.

There a great deal of historical muddiness surrounding the fate of Remus. Since no city wants to be founded on an act of fratricide, it is also told that friends of Romulus killed Remus. Whatever did happen, Romulus began a small village on the Palatine Hill, who’s founding is generally celebrated on April 21st, 753 BCE.

Qualities of very early Rome and the reign of Romulus

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Categories: History, People, Roman Life | Leave a comment

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