Romulus and Remus

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the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus

Legend about how the city of Rome was built.

An oracle predicted Romulus and Remus would build a great city, and so it was. They left Alba together with what men they could must in order to found their own city on that hill where their Faustulus and Laurentia had brought them up: the Palatine hill.

The founding of cities clearly had to follow specific rituals: Ploughing a consecrated furrow round the perimeter with a sacred Ox was an important element of this. Remus laughed at Romulus' work, jumping over the sacred furrow, the pomerium, saying "That is what your enemies will do" and Romulus retorted "And this is how they will fare" striking his brother. A fight ensued and Remus was killed. Romulus completed the work alone, calling the new city "Roma" (Rome) and admitted into it anyone who wished to come. Many of the new citizens were outlaws and outcasts making Rome particularly unpalatable to its neighbours. The birth or Rome is accepted as having been the 21st April, 753BC. Romulus was thus the first King of Rome. He spent much of his time establishing the laws and regulations which would govern his new city.

A particular problem was the severe lack of women in the new city. This was resolved by an incursion into the neighbouring town of the Sabines and abducting their women. A siege ensued as the Sabine men came to take their wives and daughters back. One of the Roman watchmen, a shepherd, had a daughter called Tarpeya. Tarpeya's treachery allowed the Sabines to win through and enter the fortress on the Palatine. Battle ensued but was surprisingly brought to a stop by the intervention of the Sabine women who thrust themselves between the two warring sides. The Sabines joined with the Romans and settled to live on the next hill: the Quirinal. Romulus is therefore not only known for founding the city but also for having grown the population through acceptance of the Sabines and for instilling a first system of rule through a council called the "Senate".

Myth suggests that at the end of his days Romulus was swept up into the skies. A black marble slab called the Lapis Niger is still in the forum and has always been venerated as his place of rest on earth. Six kings succeeded Romulus before Rome became a Republic.

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