When these deathless deeds had been done,1
as the king was holding a muster in the Campus Martius, near the swamp of Capra, for the purpose of reviewing the army, suddenly a storm came up, with loud claps of thunder, and enveloped him in a cloud so thick as to hide him from the sight of the assembly; and from that moment Romulus was no more on earth.2
The Roman soldiers at length recovered from their panic, when this hour of wild confusion had been succeeded by a sunny calm; but when they saw that the royal seat was empty, although they readily believed the assertion of the senators, who had been standing next to Romulus, [p. 59]
that he had been caught up on high in the blast, they3
nevertheless remained for some time sorrowful and silent, as if filled with the fear of orphanhood.
Then, when a few men had taken the initiative, they all with one accord hailed Romulus as a god and a god's son, the King and Father of the Roman City, and with prayers besought his favour that he would graciously be pleased forever to protect his children.
There were some, I believe, even then who secretly asserted that the king had been rent in pieces by the hands of the senators, for this rumour, too, got abroad, but in very obscure terms; the other version obtained currency, owing to men's admiration for the hero and the intensity of their panic.
And the shrewd device of one man is also said to have gained new credit for the story.
This was Proculus Julius, who, when the people were distracted with the loss of their king and in no friendly mood towards the senate, being, as tradition tells, weighty in council, were the matter never so important, addressed the assembly as follows: “Quirites, the Father of this City, Romulus, descended suddenly from the sky at dawn this morning and appeared to me. Covered with confusion, I stood reverently before him, praying that it might be vouchsafed me to look upon his face without sin.4
'Go,' said he, 'and declare to the Romans the will of Heaven that my Rome shall be the capital of the world; so let them cherish the art of war, and let them know and teach their children that no human strength can resist Roman arms.'
So saying,” he concluded, “Romulus departed on high.” It is wonderful what credence the people placed in that man's tale, and how the grief for the loss of Romulus, which the plebeians [p. 61]
and the army felt, was quieted by the assurance of5