Myths, Gods, and Men
Spring 2007 Readings - Week 2
Romulus and Remus
Livy - Ab urbe condita 1.4 - 1.8
Read January 30, 2007 by Joseph T. Richardson
IV: The Story of Romulus: Birth and Uprearing
Sed debebatur, ut opinor, fatis tantae origo urbis maximique secundum deorum opes imperii principium.  ui compressa Uestalis cum geminum partum edidisset, seu ita rata seu quia deus auctor culpae honestior erat, Martem incertae stirpis patrem nuncupat.  sed nec di nec homines aut ipsam aut stirpem a crudelitate regia uindicant: sacerdos uincta in custodiam datur, pueros in profluentem aquam mitti iubet.  forte quadam diuinitus super ripas Tiberis effusus lenibus stagnis nec adiri usquam ad iusti cursum poterat amnis et posse quamuis languida mergi aqua infantes spem ferentibus dabat.  ita uelut defuncti regis imperio in proxima alluuie ubi nunc ficus Ruminalis est—#8212;Romularem uocatam ferunt—#8212;  pueros exponunt. uastae tum in his locis solitudines erant. tenet fama cum fluitantem alueum, quo expositi erant pueri, tenuis in sicco aqua destituisset, lupam sitientem ex montibus qui circa sunt ad puerilem uagitum cursum flexisse; eam submissas infantibus adeo mitem praebuisse mammas ut lingua lambentem pueros magister regii pecoris inuenerit—#8212;  Faustulo fuisse nomen ferunt—#8212;ab eo ad stabula Larentiae uxori educandos datos. sunt qui Larentiam uolgato corpore lupam inter pastores uocatam putent; inde locum fabulae ac miraculo datum.  ita geniti itaque educati, cum primum adoleuit aetas, nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes uenando peragrare saltus.  hinc robore corporibus animisque sumpto iam non feras tantum subsistere sed in latrones praeda onustos impetus facere pastoribusque rapta diuidere et cum his crescente in dies grege iuuenum seria ac iocos celebrare.
V: Romulus recognised, Amulius killed
It is said that the festival of the Lupercalia, which is still observed, was even in those days celebrated on the Palatine hill. This hill was originally called Pallantium from a city of the same name in Arcadia; the name was afterwards changed to Palatium. Evander, an Arcadian, had held that territory many ages before, and had introduced an annual festival from Arcadia in which young men ran about naked for sport and wantonness, in honour of the Lycaean Pan, whom the Romans afterwards called Inuus. The existence of this festival was widely recognised, and it was while the two brothers were engaged in it that the brigands, enraged at losing their plunder, ambushed them. Romulus successfully defended himself, but Remus was taken prisoner and brought before Amulius, his captors impudently accusing him of their own crimes. The principal charge brought against them was that of invading Numitor's lands with a body of young men whom they had got together, and carrying off plunder as though in regular warfare. Remus accordingly was handed over to Numitor for punishment.
Faustulus had from the beginning suspected that it was royal offspring that he was bringing up, for he was aware that the boys had been exposed at the king's command and the time at which he had taken them away exactly corresponded with that of their exposure. He had, however, refused to divulge the matter prematurely, until either a fitting opportunity occurred or necessity demanded its disclosure. The necessity came first. Alarmed for the safety of Remus he revealed the state of the case to Romulus. It so happened that Numitor also, who had Remus in his custody, on hearing that he and his brother were twins, and comparing their ages, and the character and bearing so unlike that of one in a servile condition, began to recall the memory of his grandchildren, and further inquiries brought him to the same conclusion as Faustulus; nothing was wanting to the recognition of Remus. So the king Amulius was being enmeshed on all sides by hostile purposes. Romulus shrunk from a direct attack with his body of shepherds, for he was no match for the king in open fight. They were instructed to approach the palace by different routes and meet there at a given time, whilst from Numitor's house Remus lent his assistance with a second band he had collected. The attack succeeded and the king was killed.
VI: The Foundation of Rome
At the beginning of the fray, Numitor gave out that an enemy had entered the City and was attacking the palace, in order to draw off the Alban soldiery to the citadel, to defend it. When he saw the young men coming to congratulate him after the assassination, he at once called a council of his people and explained his brother's infamous conduct towards him, the story of his grandsons, their parentage and bringing up, and how he recognised them. Then he proceeded to inform them of the tyrant's death and his responsibility for it. The young men marched in order through the midst of the assembly and saluted their grandfather as king; their action was approved by the whole population, who with one voice ratified the title and sovereignty of the king.
After the government of Alba was thus transferred to Numitor, Romulus and Remus were seized with the desire of building a city in the locality where they had been exposed. There was the superfluous population of the Alban and Latin towns, to these were added the shepherds: it was natural to hope that with all these Alba would be small and Lavinium small in comparison with the city which was to be founded. These pleasant anticipations were disturbed by the ancestral curse—ambition—which led to a deplorable quarrel over what was at first a trivial matter. As they were twins and no claim to precedence could be based on seniority, they decided to consult the tutelary deities of the place by means of augury as to who was to give his name to the new city, and who was to rule it after it had been founded. Romulus accordingly selected the Palatine as his station for observation, Remus the Aventine.
VII: Death of Remus
Priori Remo augurium uenisse fertur, sex uoltures; iamque nuntiato augurio cum duplex numerus Romulo se ostendisset, utrumque regem sua multitudo consalutauerat: tempore illi praecepto, at hi numero auium regnum trahebant.  inde cum altercatione congressi certamine irarum ad caedem uertuntur; ibi in turba ictus Remus cecidit. uolgatior fama est ludibrio fratris Remum nouos transiluisse muros; inde ab irato Romulo, cum uerbis quoque increpitans adiecisset, 'sic deinde, quicumque alius transiliet moenia mea,' interfectum.  ita solus potitus imperio Romulus; condita urbs conditoris nomine appellata.
VIII: The Political Constitution
After the claims of religion had been duly acknowledged, Romulus called his people to a council. As nothing could unite them into one political body but the observance of common laws and customs, he gave them a body of laws, which he thought would only be respected by a rude and uncivilised race of men if he inspired them with awe by assuming the outward symbols of power. He surrounded himself with greater state, and in particular he called into his service twelve lictors. Some think that he fixed upon this number from the number of the birds who foretold his sovereignty; but I am inclined to agree with those who think that as this class of public officers was borrowed from the same people from whom the 'sella curulis' and the 'toga praetexta' were adopted—their neighbours, the Etruscans—so the number itself also was taken from them. Its use amongst the Etruscans is traced to the custom of the twelve sovereign cities of Etruria, when jointly electing a king furnishing him each with one lictor.
Meantime the City was growing by the extension of its walls in various directions an increase due rather to the anticipation of its future population than to any present overcrowding. His next care was to secure an addition to the population that the size of the City might not be a source of weakness. It had been the ancient policy of the founders of cities to get together a multitude of people of obscure and low origin and then to spread the fiction that they were the children of the soil. In accordance with this policy, Romulus opened a place of refuge on the spot where, as you go down from the Capitol, you find an enclosed space between two groves. A promiscuous crowd of freemen and slaves, eager for change, fled thither from the neighbouring states. This was the first accession of strength to the nascent greatness of the city.
When he was satisfied as to its strength, his next step was to provide for that strength being wisely directed. He created a hundred senators; either, because that number was adequate, or because there were only a hundred heads of houses who could be created. In any case they were called the 'Patres' in virtue of their rank, and their descendants were called 'Patricians.'