March 03, 2023

#08-290: Romulus and Remus

Romulus, Remus, and "the Capitoline Wolf" (Wikipedia)

Note: Many great cities have their origins in the "mists of time," and stories are concocted to account for their existence. Here's the story of Rome.

Get Ready: What do you know about the founding of your city, or the nearest large city to where you live? Is the account of the founding strictly historical, mostly historical, mostly imaginary, or entirely imaginary?

Most of the world's great cities seem to have just faded into existence, starting with a small settlement and growing up by stages until they become world renowned. But history demands a founding moment, even if it's manufactured.

This is true of Rome, once the seat of one of the world's great empires. In fact, beginning in the Renaissance scholars used the term AUC or Ab Urbe Condita (meaning from the founding of the city) to refer to events in Roman history. For example, Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE, or 710 AUC, the city having been traditionally founded in 753 BCE.

The story of that mythical founding moment involves twin boys named Romulus and Remus.

These two (they say) were born at a Latin city named Alba Longa, not far from the future site of Rome. Because their mother was the daughter of Numitor, the former king of Alba, her Uncle Amulius who now occupied the throne saw the boys as a threat to his reign. So, like in so many ancient stories, the wicked uncle ordered the twins to be killed, and they were abandoned by the banks of the Tiber (Rome's main river) to die.

But Tiberinus, the god of that river, saved them, and they were cared for by many, including--most famously--a she-wolf who suckled them in a cave now known as the Lupercal (lupus is Latin for "wolf"). They were eventually adopted by a shepherd and, again like in many such stories, were unaware of their true identities.

Being natural leaders (their true father is said to have been Mars, the God of War), they became involved in the struggle between Numitor and King Amulius for the rule of Alba. Amulius was killed, and grandfather Numitor became king again. The two youths then set out to build their own city.

Reaching the seven hills of what is now Rome, Romulus wanted to build on the Palatine Hill, the centermost hill which was located above the Lupercal cave; Remus favored the Aventine Hill. The dispute was to be settled by reading bird auguries, but Remus refused to accept the result and was killed (whether by his brother or one of his brother's followers is unclear).

Thus, Romulus lent his name to Rome, which he ruled for many years as its first king, beginning--of course--in the year 1 AUC, or 753 BCE.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. assassinated
  2. auguries
  3. centermost
  4. mythical
  5. occupied
  6. reign
  7. renowned
  8. suckled
  9. unaware
  10. wicked

  1. not historical; legendary
  2. evil
  3. omens; signs read from nature
  4. killed for political reasons
  5. famous
  6. time on the throne
  7. closest to the middle
  8. not knowing
  9. fed from the mother's breast
  10. sat on

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 3, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. c; 3. g; 4. a; 5. j; 6. f; 7. e; 8. i; 9. h; 10. b