Legend of Rome

The origin of the city's name is thought to be that of the reputed founder and first ruler, the legendary Romulus. It is said that Romulus and his twin brother Remus, orphans who were suckled and raised by a she-wolf, decided to build a city. After an argument, Romulus killed Remus and named the city Rome, after himself. After founding and naming (as the story goes) Rome, he permitted men of all classes to come to Rome as citizens, including slaves and freemen without distinction. To provide his citizens with wives, Romulus invited the neighboring tribes to a festival in Rome where he abducted the young women from amongst them (known as The Rape of the Sabine Women). After the ensuing war with the Sabines, Romulus shared the kingship with the Sabine king Titus Tatius. Romulus selected 100 of the most noble men to form the Roman senate as an advisory council to the king. These men he called patres, and their descendants became the patricians. He created three centuries of equites named Ramnes (meaning Romans), Tities (after the Sabine king) and a third called Luceres (Etruscans). He also divided the general populace into thirty curiae, named after thirty of the Sabine women who had intervened to end the war between Romulus and Tatius. The curiae formed the voting units in the Comitia Curiata. More recently, attempts have been made to find a linguistic root for the name Rome. Possibilities include derivation from the Greek , meaning bravery, courage; possibly the connection is with a root *rum-, "teat", with a theoretical reference to the totem wolf that adopted and suckled the cognately-named twins. The Etruscan name of the city seems to have been Ruma. Compare also Rumon, former name of the Tiber River. Its further etymology, as with that of most Etruscan words, remains unknown. The Basque scholar Manuel de Larramendi thought that the origin could be related to the Basque language word orma (modern Basque kirreal), "wall". Thomas G. Tucker's Concise Etymological Dictionary of Latin (1931) suggests the name is most probably from *urobsma (cf. urbs, robur) and otherwise, "but less likely" from *urosma "hill" (cf. Skt. varsman- "height, point," Old Slavonic врьхъ / vr'h" - "top, summit", Russ. верхом / verkhom - "in the upper area; on horseback", Lith. virsus "upper"). Romulus and Remus are the twin brothers and central characters of Rome's foundation myth. Their mother is Rhea Silvia, daughter to Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before their conception, Numitor's brother Amulius seizes power, kills Numitor's male heirs and forces Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sworn to chastity. Rhea Silvia conceives the twins by the god Mars, or by the demi-god Hercules; once the twins were born, Amulius has them abandoned to die in the river Tiber. They are saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the river carries them to safety, a she-wolf finds and suckles them, and a woodpecker feeds them. A shepherd and his wife find them and foster them to manhood, as simple shepherds. The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, prove to be natural leaders. Each acquires many followers. When they discover the truth of their birth, they kill Amulius and restore Numitor to his throne. Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa they choose to found a new city. Romulus wants to found the new city on the Palatine Hill; Remus prefers the Aventine Hill. They agree to determine the site through augury but when each claims the results in his own favor, they quarrel and Remus is killed. Romulus founds the new city, names it Rome, after himself, and creates its first legions and senate. The new city grows rapidly, swelled by landless refugees; as most of these are male, and unmarried, Romulus arranges the abduction of women from the neighboring Sabines. The ensuing war ends with the joining of Sabines and Romans as one Roman people. Thanks to divine favour and Romulus' inspired leadership, Rome becomes a dominant force, but Romulus himself becomes increasingly autocratic, and disappears or dies in mysterious circumstances. In later forms of the myth, he ascends to heaven, and is identified with Quirinus, the divine personification of the Roman people. The legend as a whole encapsulates Rome's ideas of itself, its origins and moral values. For modern scholarship, it remains one of the most complex and problematic of all foundation myths, particularly in the matter and manner of Remus' death. Ancient historians had no doubt that Romulus gave his name to the city. Most modern historians believe his name a back-formation from the name Rome; the basis for Remus' name and role remain subjects of ancient and modern speculation. The myth was fully developed into something like an "official", chronological version in the Late Republican and early Imperial era; Roman historians dated the city's foundation to between 758 and 728 BC, and Plutarch reckoned the twins' birth year as c. 27/28 March 771 BC. An earlier tradition that gave Romulus a distant ancestor in the semi-divine Trojan prince Aeneas was further embellished, and Romulus was made the direct ancestor of Rome's first Imperial dynasty. Possible historical bases for the broad mythological narrative remain unclear and disputed. The image of the she-wolf suckling the divinely fathered twins became an iconic representation of the city and its founding legend, making Romulus and Remus preeminent among the feral children of ancient mythography.