The History of Rome - Table of Contents The History of Rome - The Legend of Romulus and Remus

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The Legend of Romulus and Remus

(Traditional Date - 753 BC)

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According to an ancient legend, the powerful Greeks had come to the city of Troy (located near the west coast of modern Turkey) to wage a big war and killed almost everyone. A prince from Troy (Trojan prince) named Aeneas, ran away and escaped to the Mediterranean sea and found a ship and sailed to Italy.

ship_troy.gif He landed at a city called Laurentum on the west coast of Italy. He made a friend with a man there named Latinus who was the king there and the Latins all around the area. They made a treaty together and Aeneas married the kings daughter Lavinia.

Aeneas' son Ascanius decided to build a new city and he named it Alba Longa. He was the king there and many kings came after him ruling for about 400 years. Afterward, the last king was attacked and overthrown, and his twin grandsons Romulus and Remus were placed next to the River Tiber and left to die. But something interesting happened, a she-wolf found them and took care of them. When the twins grew up they came back to the wonderful place by the river where they had almost died and they decided to build a new city right there on the spot so that others who were homeless like they had been might have a place to live.

They argued with each other over where the exact spot had been and so in the evening they decided to hold a sacred ceremony where they would watch for an omen (a sign from the gods) and let the gods decide. Early in the morning when the sun was coming up Remus looked up in the sky and saw 6 vultures flying by. But something interesting happened. While the sun was coming up he noticed that there were now 12 vultures. He told his brother all about it but they had a bad argument over what it may have meant and Romulus went into a rage and killed his brother Remus. He then went to the spot that he had chosen and started building the city. Once he had built the city he named it "Rome" after himself and became its first ruler.

The historian Livy wrote:

"Remus, by way of Jeering his brother, jumped over the half-built walls of the new settlement, whereupon Romulus killed him in a fit of rage, adding the threat, "So perish whoever shall leap over my battlements."

-Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 29 BC

The History of Rome - Part One 743 - 136 B.C.

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