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THE FOUNDING OF THE CITY

Today on April 21st in 753 BC, the prophecy given to Aeneas by the Gods shortly after he and the remaining Trojans fled the sacking of Troy in 1184 BC came to fruition. The founding of Rome was one that would change the course of world history.

Numitor, a descendant of Aeneas, was King of Alba Longa. His younger brother, Amulius, envied this position, and so sent him into exile to usurp his throne. To prevent any vengeance or competition arising up from Numitor’s heirs in the future, he simply killed them off. Furthermore, he then forced Numitor’s daughter, Silvia, into becoming a Vestal Virgin, having her swear celibacy for 30 years.

Quirinus was a God who emanated from Helios and was carried down by the Goddess of Forethought, Athena. Mars crafted him a mortal body within Silvia’s womb, and thus Quirinus was born Romulus, alongside his twin, Remus. Following the discovery that Silvia had given birth to twins, Amulius imprisoned Silvia and ordered a servant to kill the twins; who instead took pity on the infants and showed them mercy; instead sending them adrift down the river Tiber.

Eventually, the river begun overflowing, leaving the infants in a pool by the bank. There, an animal said to represent both Helios and Mars, the She Wolf, was said to have lost her own cubs when she came across the twins, deciding to nurture them and give them suck. Soon after a farmer named Faustulus came across them, and with his wife Acca adopted and raised the children as shepherds.

On 752 BC, while they were herding their sheep one day, they were met by shepherds under the rule of King Amulius. These shepherds begun a fight with the twins in which Remus was captured and taken before King Amulius. Romulus gathered and incited a band of local shepherds to join him in rescuing his captured sibling. King Amulius believed that Silvia’s children were dead, and hadn’t recognized Remus or Romulus. After a conflict, Romulus freed his brother, and in the process killed King Amulius. Being offered the throne of Alba Longa, they rejected it and instead chose to reinstate Numitor on the throne. However, they did still want to rule a city, and so they left to go and find their own. 

After finding a proper location with seven hills, Romulus and Remus were bickering over where their city would be founded. Romulus supported the construction of the city on the Palatine Hill, and Remus supported the construction of the city on the Aventine Hill. Taking the auspices to read the will of the gods, Remus on his hill saw six birds, while Romulus saw twelve. As a result it was decided that Romulus’ choice was the one with divine favour, which lead him and his followers to begin construction of their city on the Palatine Hill. Romulus took to marking the city’s sacred boundary with a plough drawn by a white bull and a white cow to begin building the city’s walls, but Remus scornfully jumped over the furrows, causing the furious Romulus or one of his Chiefs to kill him. 

To secure the new settlement’s future population he outlawed infanticide and established an asylum for fugitives, where freemen and slaves alike could both find protection in the new city and recieve Roman citizenship. 

At one point, due to a shortage of females since the population of Rome was mostly young and unmarried men, Romulus organised the abduction of single women who were marriageable from nearby Italic tribes by drawing them in with grand festivals & games, most notably the local tribe of the Sabines, and taking the women’s hand in marriages without the consent of their families. A conflict ensued in which enraged Italic tribes warred with Rome, which ended when the women ran between the armies of their fathers and their new husbands, pleading for them to put down their weapons and negotiate for peace. Peace was reached, where Romulus and the King of the Sabines, Tatius, joined together to form one community.

Over the years, the city and its relations developed. Tatius died, and conflicts with Italic and Etruscan tribes continued to rise as Rome grew more and more powerful. After a reign of 36 years, Romulus mysteriously disappeared in a violent storm, causing an uproar of confusion and accusation of murder to go around; along with a claim that their King had simply abandoned them. However, Proculus Julius, a man who had been friends with the King, came forth, swore a sacred oath in which he could not lie, and revealed the truth of what happened to the missing Romulus. He recounted an experience where Romulus descended from the sky infront of him shortly after his disappearance. Puzzled and shocked, Proculus asked why Romulus had abandoned his city as he did: confused, mourning, suspicious and on edge. Romulus revealed that it was the divine will of the Gods that took him into the Heavens by destroying the mortal part of his body with the fire of lightning during the storm, and that he was ascended into the heavens by the Goddess Athena straight back to Helios, and that in truth he was the God Quirinus. He revealed he was sent forth by King of All, his duty being to build a city that would become the greatest on Earth, and now that work is done. The now-revealed God then promised to watch over his people before ascended back into the heavens. With this information revealed to the people of Rome, the divine truth had overcame them and eased their minds; causing them to abandon their suspicions and anger over their old king having left them. King Numa, a Sabine and a great reformer, was made Romulus’ successor and proclaimed the second King of Rome.

And today the eternal city still stands another year.

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Sources:

“Hymn to King Helios” by Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus / Julian

“The Life of Romulus” by Plutarch

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