Tuesday 21 April 2020


Though there are competing and incompatible origin myths—neither of which square with the archaeological evidence that suggest human settlement in the area is far older, the traditional date for the founding of Rome was on this day in 753 BC (Ab urbe condita 1), eschewing the other candidates for founding father, Aeneas who fled from Troy or Greek Evander from Arcadia or Romos, the son of Circe and Odysseus, by Romulus.
Born along with his twin brother Remus in Alba Longa not far from where the future city would be, the pair were the offspring of Rhea Silva, a vestal virgin and holy priestess, and a visitation by the god Mars (Ares), the king and maternal uncle Amulius who had displaced his own brother Numitor ordered them abandoned to the elements, fearing that they could challenge his claim on the throne and set them adrift on the Tiber. The twins were adopted and suckled by a she-wolf and sheltered in a cave dubbed the Lupercal. Eventually fostered by the shepherd Faustulus and civilised, both became partisans, not knowing anything of their parentage or history, becoming involved in a dispute between supporters of Numitor and his usurper Amulius. With both king and dethroned grandfather suspecting his true identity, Remus was captured and imprisoned. Learning of their past and succession disputes, Romulus launched a campaign to free his twin brother and reinstate Numitor as ruler of Alba Longa. The twins were dispatched afterwards to found a new settlement disagreed over its location, with Remus favouring the Aventine Hill and Romulus preferring Palatine (Mons Palatinus). Omens and augury failed to settle matters definitively and the conflict escalated, resulting in the death of Remus, either by his brother’s own hand or one of his supporters.