is said to have been the first to receive an augury, from the flight of six vultures. The omen had been already reported when twice that number appeared to Romulus. Thereupon each was saluted king by his own followers, the one party laying claim to the honour from priority, the other from the number of the birds.
They then engaged in a battle of words and, angry taunts leading to bloodshed, Remus was struck down in the affray. The commoner story is that Remus leaped over the new walls in mockery of his brother, whereupon Romulus in great anger slew him, and in menacing wise added these words withal, “So
perish whoever else shall leap over my walls!”2
Thus Romulus acquired sole power, and the city, thus founded, was called by its founder's name.
His first act was to fortify the Palatine, on which3
he had himself been reared. To other gods he sacrificed after the Alban custom, but employed the Greek for Hercules, according to the institution of Evander.
The story is as follows: Hercules, after slaying Geryones, was driving off his wondrously beautiful cattle, when, close to the river Tiber, where he had swum across it with the herd before him, he found a green spot, where he could let the cattle rest and refresh themselves with the abundant grass; and being tired from his journey he lay down himself.
When he had there fallen into a deep sleep, for he was heavy with food and wine, a shepherd by the name of Cacus, who dwelt hard by and was insolent by reason of his strength, was struck with the beauty of the animals, and wished to drive them off as plunder. But if he had driven the herd into his cave, their tracks would have been enough to guide their owner to the place in his search; he therefore chose out those of the cattle that were most remarkable for their beauty, and turning them the other way, dragged them into the cave by their tails.
At daybreak Hercules awoke. Glancing over the herd, and perceiving that a part of their number was lacking, he proceeded to the nearest cave, in case there might be foot-prints leading into it. When he saw that they were all turned outward and yet did not lead to any other place, he was confused and bewildered, and made ready to drive his herd away from that uncanny spot.
As the cattle were being driven off, some of them lowed, as usually happens, missing those which had been left behind. They were answered with a low by the cattle shut up in the cave, and this made Hercules turn back. When he came towards the [p. 29]
cave, Cacus would have prevented his approach with4
force, but received a blow from the hero's club, and calling in vain upon the shepherds to protect him, gave up the ghost.
Evander, an exile from the Peloponnese, controlled that region in those days, more through personal influence than sovereign power. He was a man revered for his wonderful invention of letters,5
a new thing to men unacquainted with the arts, and even more revered because of the divinity which men attributed to his mother Carmenta, whom those tribes had admired as a prophetess before the Sibyl's coming into Italy.
Now this Evander was then attracted by the concourse of shepherds, who, crowding excitedly about the stranger, were accusing him as a murderer caught red-handed. When he had been told about the deed and the reason for it, and had marked the bearing of the man and his figure, which was somewhat ampler and more august than a mortal's, he inquired who lie was.
Upon learning his name, his father, and his birth-place, he exclaimed, “Hail, Hercules, son of Jupiter! You are he, of whom my mother, truthful interpreter of Heaven, foretold to me that you should be added to the number of the gods, and that an altar should be dedicated to you here which the nation one day to
be the most powerful on earth should call the Greatest Altar, and should serve according to your rite.”
Hercules gave him his hand, and declared that he accepted the omen, and would fulfil the prophecy by establishing and dedicating an altar. Then and there men took a choice victim from the herd, and for the first time made sacrifice to Hercules.
For the ministry and the banquet they employed the Potitii and the Pinarii, being the families [p. 31]
of most distinction then living in that region. It so6
fell out that the Potitii were there at the appointed time, and to them were served the inwards; the Pinarii came after the inwards had been eaten, in season for the remainder of the feast.
Thence came the custom, which persisted as long as the Pinarian family endured, that they should not partake of the inwards at that sacrifice. The Potitii, instructed by Evander, were priests of this cult for many generations, until, having delegated to public slaves the solemn function of their family, the entire stock of the Potitii died out.
This was the only sacred observance, of all those of foreign origin, which Romulus then adopted, honouring even then the immortality won by worth to which his own destiny was leading him.7