Saturday, July 15, 2017

Romulus and Remus and the Origins of Rome

     When it comes to the the founding of Rome, one may turn to writers such as Livy, who described Romulus and Remus as twins whom the king ordered drowned in the Tiber.  Thankfully for Roman history, the Tiber lay flooded, and they were placed only along its swollen banks.  The following excerpt continues the account of their rescue.    

[1.4]  But neither gods nor men sheltered her or her babes from the king's cruelty; the priestess was thrown into prison, the boys were ordered to be thrown into the river. By a heaven-sent chance it happened that the Tiber was then overflowing its banks, and stretches of standing water prevented any approach to the main channel. Those who were carrying the children expected that this stagnant water would be sufficient to drown them, so under the impression that they were carrying out the king's orders they exposed the boys at the nearest point of the overflow, where the Ficus Ruminalis (said to have been formerly called Romularis) now stands. The locality was then a wild solitude. The tradition goes on to say that after the floating cradle in which the boys had been exposed had been left by the retreating water on dry land, a thirsty she-wolf from the surrounding hills, attracted by the crying of the children, came to them, gave them her teats to suck and was so gentle towards them that the king's flock-master found her licking the boys with her tongue. According to the story, his name was Faustulus. He took the children to his hut and gave them to his wife Larentia to bring up. 

The History of Rome by Livy (Titus Livius)

     It's interesting how Virgil's Aeneid (Greek) and the important Italian story of Romulus and become reconciled, as Wikipedia puts it.  (It's also intriguing to note that both Livy and Virgil lived almost at the same time in history; Livy passed on in 17 AD, which is less than fifty years after Virgil died.)  Livy's account connects itself with the Italian legend by making Romulus and Remus descendants of Aeneas and his son, Ascanius.  

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