Roman Founding Mythology

This article is more of an attempt to summarise my course lecture than give a full and accurate account of the myths surrounding Rome’s founding. If you’re looking for that, hit up a textbook or perhaps hold on until I get to it down the track

The history of Rome is seated in surprisingly specific myth. If it weren’t for the fanciful and supernatural nature of the stories, one might even regard them as historical account. I suspect there’s some significant reality in the stories that make up the Roman establishment myth, but it’s impossible to say.

The story begins with Aeneas, who was already established by Grecian traditions as a hero of Troy. In Virgil’s Aenead, Aeneas survives the fall of Troy and journeys to Italy, where he settles in Alba Longa and shacks up with the daughter of the king. Virgil’s account of Aeneas ends abruptly after the conflict proceding this, but after 11 generations in Alba Longa, we end up with Numitor and Amulius.

Numitor inherited the throne and Amulius inherited control over the treasury. Amulius uses his financial means to overturn his brother and take control of the throne. Amulius was worried about being usurped himself by potential offspring of a vestle virgin, who ends up giving birth to Romulus and Remus. The brothers end up being yeeted into a river (safely encased in a basket) and being taken care of by she-wolf. Eventually, Romulus and Remus get back to Alba Longa and in a dispute involving Remus’s capture, they off Amulius.

After all this, they reinstate Numitor as king of Alba Longa. Both Remus and Romulus go to build their new city on one of the great hills of Rome, but can’t agree on which one. Romulus starts to build trenches and walls around his hill, Remus makes fun of it, and then Remus dies. It’s uncertain whether he falls into the trench, or Romulus killed his brother in offence. Either way, Romulus names the city Rome after himself and that’s how the city came to be.

Feature Image by David Bruggink on Unsplash

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