The historical brothers of Rome. Left for dead and nurtured to health by a wolf, Romulus and Remus symbolize the city of Rome and its people. The founding date of the city of Rome is April 21st, 753 B.C. However, the story goes back much further. Let’s go back in time to break it down and understand its significance to the capital city of Italy.
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The Origins of Rome
Before Rome existed, little settlements existed up and down the Tyrrhenian Coast. Our story starts in a place called Alba Longa. Where this little settlement once stood, the small town of Castel Gandolfo now exists. A charming little village clustered around the Papal Palace, Castel Gandolfo is where popes go in the summer. In addition, it’s also home to the exquisite Barberini Gardens.
According to the legend of Romulus and Remus, a Vestal Virgin named Rhea Silvia lived in Alba Longa. Daughter of King Numitor. the king’s younger brother Amulius seized control of the throne by finishing off Numitor’s son. He also forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin. As the name implies, these priestesses were sworn to celibacy. And so, for a period of thirty years, no heirs of Numitor could be born (in theory!).
Romulus and Remus Father
Quite the surprise, lo and behold the virgin Rhea fell pregnant. Naturally, this caused quite the uproar. In response, she fingered none other than the god of war himself, Mars as the father. Once she gave birth, the current king ordered that the twin babies must be drowned.
However, the basket meant to drown the babies ended up at the Palatine Hill. Then, Romulus and Remus were discovered by the she-wolf in the cave on the Palatine Hill known as the “Lupercal”. The wolf suckled them, and eventually they were discovered by a herdsman who raised them into men.
Romulus and Remus Facts
In Ancient Rome, the word for she-wolf (“lupa”) is also local slang that refers to a female prostitute. This is why, if you go to Pompeii, the “lupanare”, or wolf’s den, is where the brothels in the ancient port city once operated. This points to the fact that Romulus and Remus were most likely found and raised by an ancient sex worker. The wolf legend is more catchy though.
The Twins as Adults
As the Romulus and Remus story continued, the twins became leaders of a riotous bunch of conquerors. Eventually, they found a settlement around where they grew up. Exactly why Romulus killed Remus is unclear, there are many possible stories. However, the most common is that Romulus designed a city wall and Remus jumped over it. At that point, Romulus killed his brother. This is why the capital city of Italy is called Rome and not Reme.
Visiting Palatine Hill
Today, visiting the Palatine Hill is the best way to get a sense of what life was like in the time of Romulus and Remus. There’s a small museum on the hill, which gives you a good idea of what life was like during the 8th century B.C. Standing 40 meters above the Roman Forum, the view from the hill is particularly impressive at night when the ruins below are artfully illuminated.
According to archeological excavations, people have lived in the area since the 10th century B.C. One of the best ways to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is to book a Colosseum tour. Skip the line tickets are included to these important areas of Rome – your guide will explain everything in detail.
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