The following is adapted in part from Mr. Dowling's page at http://www.mrdowling.com/702-romulus.html and UNRV.com at http://www.unrv.com/culture/romulus-and-remus.php
The origins of Rome are steeped in myth and legend. Many
ancient Romans believed twin boys named Romulus and Remus
founded the city.
The kingdom of Alba Longa was ruled by their grandfather,
Numitor. The wicked brother of Numitor, Amulius, tried to
depose Numitor (kick him off the throne).
Numitor fought back, but Amulius won. Amulius then sent
Numitor into exile away from his family. King Amulius forced
Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, to become a Vestal Virgin
(a priestess of the goddess Vesta). Vestal Virgins were not
allowed to marry and have children.
day Mars, the god of war, saw Rhea Silvia and fell in love
with her. The god Mars seduced Rhea Silvia and she
later gave birth to twin boys.
new king, Amulius, feared that the boys would grow up to
overthrow him. So, he ordered his slave to throw the two
twins into the Tiber River . But the slave left the twins
in their cradle to give them a chance.
They floated down the river. At that time the river was
flooded, and when the waters fell, the cradle, still containing
the boys, came ashore near the Palatine Hill in what is now
west central Italy .
twins were found by a she-wolf who, instead of killing them,
looked after them and fed them with her milk. A woodpecker
also brought them food, for the woodpecker, like the wolf,
was a sacred animal of the god Mars (who looked after the
A shepherd of King Amulius, named Faustulus, saw the wolf
with the baby boys. He took them home to his wife and adopted
them. Faustulus the shepherd and his wife named the boys
Romulus and Remus.
When they grew up, the boys became shepherds like their
new father Faustulus. They eventually became leaders of their
warlike band of shepherds. One day, they had a fight with
another group of shepherds. Remus was arrested and sent to
Numitor (the former king of Alba Longa and brother of King
Amulius) as a prisoner because it was his shepherds he had
been fighting. When Numitor heard the story he realized that
Remus was his grandson! He told Romulus and Remus what had
happened to him and their mother.
at what Amulius had done to their grandfather Numitor, Romulus
and Remus attacked their great-uncle, King Amulius, and killed
him. Numitor was restored to the throne once again.
Romulus and Remus went to live with their grandfather Numitor
in Alba Longa , but they got bored and missed the countryside
where they grew up. They decided to move back to the banks
of the Tiber River where the shepherd Faustulus had found
There, they decided to build their own city. But the twins
argued over where the city should be built. Romulus wanted
to build it on the Palatine Hill where the she-wolf had nursed
them and Remus wanted to build it on the Capitoline Hill.
Signs from the heavens decreed that each brother would
build their own city, but Romulus ’ city would be much
larger. Romulus completed his city on April 21, 753 BC.
teased his brother Romulus , claiming that his city had walls
that were too short. To prove his point, Remus climbed over
Enraged, Romulus killed his brother Remus with an ax.
continued the building of the new city , naming it Roma (
Rome ) after his own name. Its first citizens were outlaws
and fugitives, to whom Romulus gave Remus’ settlement
on the Capitoline Hill. There were, however, not enough wives
for all these men, so Romulus decided to steal women from
the Sabines, an Italian tribe.
Romulus proclaimed a festival and invited many Sabines
to it. While the attention of the men was elsewhere, Romulus
' men rushed in and carried off the women. This was the famous "Rape
(carrying off) of the Sabine women", which later became
a subject for painters.
Sabine men where furious. Led by their king Titus Tatius,
they made war on Romulus and his city of Rome . When the
fighting had reached its peak, the Sabine women, who had
grown fond of their Roman husbands, rushed between the armies
and begged both sides to make peace. So, the battle was stopped,
and Romulus and Titus Tatius ruled together over the two
peoples until Titus Tatius was killed in battle.
For the rest of his life, Romulus ruled alone, proving
himself a great leader in peace and war. According to legend,
he did not die. Instead, he disappeared one day in a violent
storm. The Romans believed he had been taken up to heaven
and worshipped him under the name of Quirinus.
The early Romans lived in small communities that grew into
city-states, often ruled by kings from wealthy families.
About fifty years after Romulus founded the city, the legends
say the Etruscans conquered the Romans. The Etruscans were
brutal rulers who rained terror on the Roman people. They
were eventually ousted by a group of Roman aristocrats who
founded the Roman Republic.
Rome is an ideal place for a city. It is located along
the banks of the Tiber River . The river made it easy to
travel to and from the sea. The Tiber is very shallow near
Rome . A shallow portion of a river is called a ford. The
ford made it easier for people to cross the river. Seven
hills surround Rome . The hills make it harder for invaders
to approach the city and served as lookout areas for the
Romans. Rome is also close to excellent farmland and an abundance
of wood and stone. Civilizations have grown and prospered
in Rome for thousands of years, which is why Rome is nicknamed “the
Most of what is known – fact or fiction – about
Romulus and Remus come from Plutarch ( Lives of Romulus,
Numa Pompilius and Camillus), Florus (Book I, I), Livy
(Caprotine Nones, I, 21), Cicero ( The Republic VI, 22: “Scipio's
Dream”), Dio (Dion) Cassius. Dionysius of Halicarnassus
( Roman History, I, L. 2).