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Romulus


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Mythical founders of Rome. Their legend, though probably as old as the late 4th cent. bc in one form or another, cannot be very old or contain any popular element, unless it be the almost universal one of the exposed children who rise to a great position. ‘Romulus’ means simply ‘Roman’.

In its normal form the story runs thus. Numitor, king of Alba Longa (see ascanius), had a younger brother Amulius who deposed him. To prevent the rise of avengers, he made Numitor's daughter, R(h)ea Silvia, a Vestal. But she was violated by Mars himself, and bore twins. Amulius, who had imprisoned her, ordered the infants to be thrown into the Tiber. The river was in flood, and the receptacle in which they had been placed drifted ashore near the Ficus Rūminālis (a fig‐tree at the foot of the Palatine). There a she‐wolf tended and suckled them, until they were found by Faustulus the royal herdsman. He and his wife brought them up as their own; they increased mightily in strength and boldness, and became leaders of the young men in daring exploits. In one of these Remus was captured and brought before Numitor; Romulus came to the rescue, the relationship was made known, they rose together against Amulius, killed him, and made Numitor king again. The twins then founded a city of their own on the site of Rome, beginning with a settlement on the Palatine; Romulus walled it, and he or his lieutenant killed Remus for leaping over the walls. He offered asylum on the Capitol to all fugitives, and got wives for them by stealing women from the Sabines, whom he had invited to a festival. After a successful reign of c.40 years he mysteriously vanished in a storm and became the god Quirinus.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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