The founding of Rome

Rome is known as the Eternal city, because of its long story. All began on the 21st of April, in 753 BC, when Romulus, according to the Latin historian Varro, established the settlement. Ancient writers like Livius, Virgil, Plutarch and Dionisyus of Halicarnassus reported the legend of the foundation.

Although the myth has a seed of truth, neverthless today historians believe that it is nearly sure that Rome grew out of the union of near villages.

Romulus and RemusRomulus, who is the founder of Rome, belonged to the Alba Longa’s stock, which in turn descended by Aeneas. He was a survivor from the fallen city of Troy, which was destroyed by the Achaeans after a 10 years war (Do you remember the Trojan horse?). Aeneas escaped with his son Ascanius, his father Anchises and other fellow citizens. They had a hard travel in the Mediterrenean sea, due to the anger of the goddess Juno. Owing to her rage, Aeneas is forced to stop his travel in Carthage, where he fell in love with the queen Dido. After one year, the god Jupiter and the Fate ordered him to leave Dido and sail to Latium, where his destiny would carry out. After Aeneas left Carthage, Dido damned him and his successors and eventually committed suicide. According to Virgil, her curse is the main cause of the Punic wars, which will leave a significant mark on both Carthage’s and Rome’s history.

After a long trip, Aeneas and his companions arrived in Latium. Livius told two versions of the meeting between the Trojans and the Italic king Latinus. In the first one, Latinus’ army fought against Aeneas’ companions, being defeated by them. In the second one, the Italic king peacefully welcomed the Trojans.

Anyway, the king’s daughter Lavinia fell in love with Aeneas, even though she was engaged to the king of Rutuli people, Turnus, who started a war against the Trojans and their ally Latinus. Although the Latin king was killed in a battle, the Trojans eventually won the armed conflict and Turnus died.

Virgil told that the war broke out because of Juno, who caused a brawl between the Italic people and the Trojans, owing to her rage against Aeneas. The war broke out because Latinus’ servant was killed in the clash. Each line – up had their allies, such as Etruscans, Ligurians, Greeks and other Italic nations. The conflict was so bloody that the warriors decided to solve the matter with a duel between Turnus and Aeneas, in which at last the Trojan hero won. He established the city of Lavinio, in honor of Lavinia, who got married with Aeneas after the war finished.

30 years later, Ascanius, Aneas’ son, founded a new settlement, called Alba Longa, where his descendants ruled well for centuries. According to the ancient Roman historian Livius, the legitimate heir of the throne, whose name was Numitor, was captured and sent to a prison by his brother Amulius, who became the king in the VIII century BC. He also forced his niece Rhea Silvia to become a virgin priestess among the Vestals, in order to not give birth to heirs. But the god of war Mars took a fancy to the priestess, who had two twins, Romulus and Remus. When the king Amulius knew the Birth, he ordered to his servant to kill the twins, but Amulius’ slave was not so brave to kill them. Instead he decided to leave them in a basket on the river Tiber. The twins were founded by a she – wolf, who nurtured them unil a shepherd called Faustulus discovered the babies and took them as his sons. Capitoline wolf, Rome

Once they became adults, they found out about their origin and decided to kill Amulius and restored Numitor as king of Alba Longa. Eventually they moved from Alba to the place where they were took pity by the she – wolf, in order to establish a new city.

However they had a clash about the name and the exact position of the village. In fact, Romulus wanted to call it Rome and to establish the settlement on the Palatin hill, while Remus prefered to name it Remora and to build the village on the Aventine hill.

They decided to solve the issue by a divine message. Livius reported that it was not clear how the challenge was decided. According to the first version, it would have been king the first who would have seen a bird. The second one on the other hand explained that it would have been king who would have seen most birds.
Anyway, Remus first saw six birds, while Romulus noticed 12 ones later. They had an argument and Romulus killed his brother in order to became the first king of Rome.
Although this story is only a legend, because it is historically proved that Rome was formed by a progressive union of villages, it has a tremendous meaning. In fact, it represents how the Romans’ tales went on. In fact, since the monarchic period, the Eternal city had harshly and fratricidal conflicts between citizens, generals emperors of the same state, which finally were one the main cause of the downfall of the empire.
I believe that the theme of rivalry between brothers is worth – highlighting, because it can be found also in other cultures. For instance, Cain and Abel in the Christian tradition, or Osiris and Seth in the Egyptian mythology.


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