Legendary Seven Kings of Rome

ROMULUS AND THE KINGS OF ROME

The she-wolf and the myths of the past

 

The name of the city, Roma in Latin, comes from Romulus, its legendary founder. He and his twin brother Remus were offspring of Rhea Silvia, woman of the royal line of Alba Longa, and the god Mars, who had seduced her in a sacred grove, where she was searching for water. When her uncle Amulius, the king, noticed her mysterious pregnancy, he imprisoned her; and as soon as the children were born, he had them abandoned on the banks of the Tiber to die.

The twins were found by a she-wolf, who suckled them until they were discovered by a shepherd (Faustulus) who brought them up as his own. When they were older, Romulus and Remus took to robbery, and on occasion attacked some of Amulius' shepherds, who were guarding sheep on the Aventine hill (part of the future site of Rome). Remus was captured and brought before Amulius; and Fausttilus chose this moment to explain to Romulus the facts of his birth (in one version he had observed the abandonment). After hearing the story, Romulus went straightaway to rescue Remus, murdered Amulitis, and awarded the now vacant throne of Alba Longa to his grandfather, Numitor.

Romulus and Remus resolved to found their own city where the wolf had rescued them. However, a dispute arose between the twins about the exact location. Romulus, having received a sign from the gods, started to mark out a boundary around his chosen site on the Palatine hill; but Remus jumped over the boundary ditch (the original pomerium), as if to show how feeble a line of defence it was. Romul us saw this as sacrilege, killed Remus, and became sole king of the new city.

Romulus' immediate problem was manpower: he needed to populate Rome. So he established there a place of refuge where criminals and runaways from all over Italy could take up residence in safety as the first citizeens. In order to find sufficient women, he resorted to a trick. He invited people from the slirrounding areas - the Sabine tribes - to celebrate a joint religious festival, and in the midst of it gave a signal to his men to abduct the marriageable women.

In retaliation, the Sabine king, Titus Tatius, gathered his army and invaded Roman territory. After some fighting between the two sides in which the Sabines penetrated Roman defences on the Capitoline hill, the Sabine women, now Roman wives, intervened, begging their fathers and husbands to cease hostilities. Peace was made, and the two peoples united. Until his death shortly after the war, Titus Tatius ruled jointly with Romulus. Then Romulus took charge of the whole community, ruling for a further thirty-three years - the first king of Rome.

Romulus

753-715 BC Founder of Rome
Numa 715-673 BC  Established major religious institutions
Tullus Hostilius 673-642 BC Renowned warrior  
Ancus Marcius 642-616 BC Enlarged Rome
Tarquin the Elder 616-579 BC Founded Temple of Jupiter and Minerva on Capitol; other building activities  
Servius Tullius 579-534 BC Constitutional reforms

Tarquin the Proud 534-510 BC Extended Roman territory,; despotic ruler  

 

Panche Hadzi-Andonov , AAI
 Copyright 2000 

All rights reserved.
Revised: April 19, 2001