Romulus chose the Palatine and Remus the Aventine hill as their stands to make their observations. It is said, that to Remus an omen came first, six vultures; and now, the omen having been declared, when double the number presented itself to Romulus, his own party saluted each king; the former claimed the kingdom on the ground of priority of time, the latter on account of the number of birds.
Upon this, having met in an altercation, from the contest of angry feelings they turn to bloodshed; there Remus fell from a blow received in the crowd.
A more common account is, that Remus, in derision of his brother, leaped over his new-built wall, and was, for that reason, slain by Romulus in a passion; who, after sharply chiding him, added words to this effect: “So shall every one fare, who shall dare to leap over my fortifications.”1
Thus Romulus got the sovereignty to himself; the city, when built, was called after the name of its founder.
His first work was to fortify the Palatine hill where he had been educated. To the other gods he offers sacrifices according to the Alban rite; to Hercules, according to the Grecian rite, as they had been instituted by Evander. There is a tradition, that Hercules, having killed Geryon, drove his oxen, which were extremely beautiful, into those places; and that, after swimming over the Tiber, and driving the cattle before him, being fatigued with travelling, he laid himself down on the banks of the river, in a grassy place, to refresh them with rest and rich pasture.
When sleep had overpowered him, satiated with food and wine, a shepherd of the place, named Cacus, presuming on his strength, and charmed with the beauty of the oxen, wished to purloin that booty, but because, if he had driven them forward into the cave, their footsteps would have guided the search of their owner thither, he therefore drew the most beautiful of them, one by one, by the tails, backwards into a cave.
Hercules, awaking at daybreak, when he had surveyed his herd, and observed that some of them were missing, goes directly to the nearest cave, to see if by chance their footsteps would lead him thither. But when he observed that they were all turned from it, and directed him no other way, confounded, and not knowing what to do, he [p. 12]
began to drive his cattle out of that unlucky place.
Upon this, some of the cows, as they usually do, lowed on missing those that were left; and the lowings of those that were confined being returned from the cave, made Hercules turn that way. And when Cacus attempted to prevent him by force, as he was proceeding to the cave, being struck with a club, he was slain, vainly imploring the assistance of the shepherds.
At that time Evander, who had fled from the Peloponnesus, ruled this country more by his credit and reputation than absolute sway. He was a person highly revered for his wondrous knowledge of letters,2
a discovery that was entirely new and surprising to men ignorant of every art; but more highly respected on account of the supposed divinity of his mother Carmenta, whom these nations had admired as a prophetess, before the coming of the Sibyl into Italy.
This prince, alarmed by the concourse of the shepherds hastily crowding round the stranger, whom they charged with open murder, after he heard the act and the cause of the act, observing the person and mien of the hero to be larger, and his gait more majestic, than human, asked who he was?
As soon as he was informed of his name, his father, and his native country, he said, “Hail! Hercules! son of Jupiter, my mother, a truth-telling interpreter of the gods, has revealed to me, that thou shalt increase the number of the celestials;
and that to thee an altar shall be dedicated here, which some ages hence the most powerful people on earth shall call Ara Maxima, and honour according to thy own institution.”
Hercules having given him his right hand, said, “That he accepted the omen, and would fulfil the predictions of the fates, by building and consecrating an altar.” There for the first time a sacrifice was offered to Hercules of a chosen heifer, taken from the herd, the Potitii and Pinarii, who were then the most distinguished families that inhabited these parts, having been invited to the service and the entertainment.
It so happened that the Potitii were present in due time, and the entrails were set before them; when they were eaten up, the Pinarii came to the remainder of the feast.
From this time it was ordained, that while the Pinarian family subsisted, none of them should eat of the entrails of the solemn sacri- [p. 13]
fices. The Potitii, being instructed by Evander, discharged this sacred function as priests for many ages, until the office, solemnly appropriated to their family, being delegated to public slaves, their whole race became extinct.
This was the only foreign religious institution which Romulus adopted, being even then an abettor of immortality attained by merit, to which his own destinies were conducting him.