Amulius being now dead, and matters settled in the city, the brothers were neither willing to live in Alba, unless as its rulers, nor to be its rulers while their grandfather was alive. Having therefore restored the government to him and paid fitting honours to their mother, they resolved to dwell by themselves, and to found a city in the region where, at the first, they were nourished and sustained;1
this surely seems a most fitting reason for their course.
But perhaps it was necessary, now that many slaves and fugitives gathered about them. either to disperse these and have no following at all, or else to dwell apart with them. For that the residents of Alba would not consent to give the fugitives the privilege of intermarriage with them, nor even receive them as fellow-citizens, is clear, in the first place, from the rape of the Sabine women,2
which was not a deed of wanton daring, but one of necessity, owing to the lack of marriages by consent; for they certainly honoured the women, when they had carried them off, beyond measure.
And in the second place, when their city was first founded, they made a sanctuary of refuge for all fugitives,3
which they called the sanctuary of the God of Asylum. There they received all who came, delivering none up, neither slave to masters, nor debtor to creditors, nor murderer to magistrates, but declaring it to be in obedience to an oracle from Delphi that they made the asylum secure for all men. Therefore the city was soon full of people, for they say that the first houses numbered no more than a thousand. This, however, was later.
But when they set out to establish their city, a dispute at once arose concerning the site. Romulus, accordingly, built Roma Quadrata (which means square
),and wished to have the city on that site; but Remus laid out a strong precinct on the Aventine hill, which was named from him Remonium, but now is called Rignarium.
Agreeing to settle their quarrel by the flight of birds of omen,4
and taking their seats on the ground apart from one another, six vultures, they say, were seen by Remus, and twice that number by Romulus. Some, however, say that whereas Remus truly saw his six, Romulus lied about his twelve, but that when Remus came to him, then he did see the twelve. Hence it is that at the present time also the Romans chiefly regard vultures when they take auguries from the flight of birds.
Herodorus Ponticus relates that Hercules also was glad to see a vulture present itself when he was upon an exploit.
For it is the least harmful of all creatures, injures no grain, fruit-tree, or cattle, and lives on carrion. But it does not kill or maltreat anything that has life, and as for birds, it will not touch them even when they are dead, since they are of its own species. But eagles, owls, and hawks smite their own kind when alive, and kill them. And yet, in the words of Aeschylus:—5
How shall a bird that preys on fellow bird be clean?
Besides, other birds are, so to speak, always in our eyes, and let themselves be seen continually; but the vulture is a rare sight, and it is not easy to come upon a vulture's young, nay, some men have been led into a strange suspicion that the birds come from some other and foreign land to visit us here, so rare and intermittent is their appearance, which soothsayers think should be true of what does not present itself naturally, nor spontaneously, but by a divine sending.