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Romŭlus

The name of the mythical founder of Rome. According to the popular Roman tradition, recorded in the first book of Livy , he was the son of Mars and Ilia or Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, and was born at the same birth with Remus. Amulius, who had usurped the throne of Alba, in defiance of the right of his elder brother Numitor, ordered the infants to be thrown into the Tiber, and their mother to be buried alive, the doom of a vestal virgin who violated her vow of chastity. The river happened at that time to have overflowed its banks, so that the two infants were not carried into the middle of the stream, but drifted along the margin, till the basket which contained them became entangled in the roots of a wild vine at the foot of the Palatine Hill. At this time a she-wolf, coming down to the river to drink, suckled the infants, and carried them to her den among the thickets hard by. Here they were found by Faustulus, the king's herdsman, who took them home to his wife Laurentia, by whom they were carefully nursed, and named Romulus and Remus. The two youths grew up, employed in the labours, the sports, and the perils of the pastoral occupation of their foster-father. But their royal blood could not be quite concealed. Their superior mien, courage, and abilities soon acquired for them a decided superior

The Capitoline Wolf.

ity over their young compeers, and they became leaders of the youthful herdsmen in their contests with robbers or with rivals. Having quarrelled with the herdsmen of Numitor, whose flocks were accustomed to graze on the neighbouring hill Aventinus, Remus fell into an ambuscade, and was dragged before Numitor to be punished. While Numitor, struck with the noble bearing of the youth, and influenced by the secret stirrings of nature within, was hesitating what punishment to inflict, Romulus, accompanied by Faustulus, hastened to the rescue of Remus. On their arrival at Alba, the secret of their origin was discovered, and a plan was speedily organized for the expulsion of Amulius and the restoration of their grandfather Numitor to his throne. This was soon accomplished; but the twin-brothers felt little disposition to remain in a subordinate position at Alba, after the enjoyment of the rude liberty and power to which they had been accustomed among their native hills. They therefore requested from their grandfather permission to build a city on the banks of the Tiber, where their lives had been so miraculously preserved. Scarcely had this permission been granted, when a contest arose between the two brothers respecting the site, the name, and the sovereignty of the city which they were about to found. Romulus wished it to be built on the Palatine Hill, and to be called by his name; Remus preferred the Aventine, and his own name. To terminate their dispute amicably, they agreed to refer it to the decision of the gods by augury. Romulus took his station on the Palatine Hill, Remus on the Aventine. At sunrise Remus saw six vultures, and immediately after Romulus saw twelve. The superiority was adjudged to Romulus, because he had seen the greater number; against which decision Remus remonstrated indignantly, on the ground that he had first received an omen. Romulus then proceeded to mark out the boundaries for the wall of the intended city. This was done by a plough with a brazen ploughshare, drawn by a bull and a heifer, and so directed that the furrow should fall inward. The plough was lifted and carried over the spaces intended to be left for gates; and in this manner a square space was marked out, including the Palatine Hill, and a small portion of the land at its base, termed Roma Quadrata. This took place on the 21st of April, on the day of the festival of Pales, the goddess of shepherds. While the wall was beginning to rise above the surface, Remus, whose mind was still rankling with his discomfiture, leaped over it, scornfully saying, “Shall such a wall as that keep your city?” Immediately Romulus, or, as others say, Celer, who had charge of erecting that part of the wall, struck him dead to the ground with the implement which he held in his hand, exclaiming, “So perish whosoever shall hereafter overleap these ramparts.”

By this event Romulus was left the sole sovereign of the city; yet he felt deep remorse at his brother's fate, buried him honourably, and, when he sat to administer justice, placed an empty seat by his side, with a sceptre and crown, as if acknowledging the right of his brother to the possession of equal power. To augment as speedily as possible the number of his subjects, Romulus set apart, in his new city, a place of refuge, to which any man might flee, and be there protected from his pursuers. By this device the population increased rapidly in males, but there was a great deficiency in women; for the adjoining States, regarding the followers of Romulus as little better than a horde of brigands, refused to sanction intermarriages. But the schemes of Romulus were not to be so frustrated. In honour of the god Consus, he proclaimed games, to which he invited the neighbouring States. Great numbers came, accompanied by their families, and, at an appointed signal, the Roman youth, rushing suddenly into the midst of the spectators, snatched up the unmarried women in their arms, and carried them off by force. The outrage was immediately resented, and Romulus found himself involved in a war with all the neighbouring States. Fortunately for Rome, though those States had sustained a common injury, they did not unite their forces in the common cause. They fought singly, and were each in turn defeated; Caenina, Crustumerium, and Antemnae fell successively before the Roman arms. Romulus slew with his own hands Acron, king of Caenina, and bore off his spoils, dedicating them, as spolia opima, to Iupiter Feretrius. The third part of the lands of the conquered towns was seized by the victors, and such of the people of these towns as were willing to remove to Rome were received as free citizens. In the meantime, the Sabines, to avenge the insult which they had sustained, had collected together forces under Titus Tatius, king of the Quirites. The Romans were unable to meet so strong an army in the field, and withdrew within their walls. They had previously placed their flocks in what they thought a place of safety, on the Capitoline Hill, which, strong as it was by nature, they had still further secured by additional fortifications. Tarpeia, the daughter of the commander of that fortress, having fallen into the hands of the Sabines, agreed to betray the access to the hill for the ornaments they wore upon their arms. At their approach she opened the gate, and, as they entered, they crushed her to death beneath their shields. From her the cliff of the Capitoline Hill was called the Tarpeian Rock. The attempt of the Romans to regain this place of strength brought on a general engagement. The combat was long and doubtful. At one time the Romans were almost driven into the city, which the Sabines were on the point of entering along with them, when fresh courage was infused into the fugitives in consequence of Romulus vowing a temple to Iupiter Stator, and by a stream of water which rushed out of the Temple of Ianus and swept away the Sabines from the gate. The struggle was renewed during several successive days with various fortune and great mutual slaughter. At length the Sabine women who had been carried away, and who were now reconciled to their fate, rushed with loud outcries between the combatants, imploring their husbands and their fathers to spare on each side those who were now equally dear. Both parties paused; a conference began, a peace was concluded, and a treaty framed, by which the two nations were united into one, and Romulus and Tatius became the joint sovereigns of the united people. But, though united, each nation continued to be governed by its own king and Senate. During the double rule of Romulus and Tatius a war was undertaken against the Latin town of Cameria, which was reduced and made a Roman colony, and its people were admitted into the Roman State, as had been done with those whom Romulus previously subdued. Tatius was soon afterwards slain by the people of Laurentum, because he had refused to do them justice against his kinsmen, who had violated the laws of nations by insulting their ambassadors.

The death of Tatius left Romulus sole monarch of Rome. He was soon engaged in a war with Fidenae, a Tuscan settlement on the banks of the Tiber. This people he likewise overcame, and placed in the city a Roman colony. This war, extending the Roman frontier, led to a hostile collision with Veii, in which he was also successful, and deprived Veii, at that time one of the most powerful cities of Etruria, of a large portion of its territories, though he found that the city itself was too strong to be taken. The reign of Romulus now drew near its close. One day, while holding a review of his army, on a plain near Lake Capra, the sky was suddenly overcast with gloom and a tempest of thunder and lightning arose. The people fled in dismay; and when the storm abated, Romulus, over whose head it had raged most fiercely, was nowhere to be seen. A rumour was circulated that during the tempest he had been carried to heaven by his father, the god Mars. This opinion was speedily confirmed by the report of Iulius Proculus, who declared that, as he was returning by night from Alba to Rome, Romulus appeared before him in a form of more than mortal majesty, and bade him go and tell the Romans that Rome was destined by the gods to be the chief city of the earth; that human power should never be able to withstand her people; and that he himself would be their guardian god Quirinus ( Romulus; Livy, i. 4). The traditional date of the translation of Romulus to heaven is B.C. 716. For a criticism of the legend and its relation to Roman history, see Lewis, An Inquiry into the Credibility of Ancient Roman History (1855); Ihne, Early Rome, Engl. trans. (N. Y. 1878); and Niebuhr's History of Rome, vol. i. Engl. edition (1859). In defence of the historical value of the legend, see Ampère, Histoire Romaine à Rome (Paris, 1871).

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