Ancient Rome: Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus are mythological twin brothers who founded the city of Rome. Their father was the fierce Roman god of war, Mars. (In another version of the story the father of the boys is the hero Hercules.) The king was scared that someday Romulus and Remus would overthrow him, so he arranged for the boys to be placed in a basket on the Tiber River, leaving them to die.

A she-wolf found the boys and cared for them. She protected them from other wild animals. A friendly woodpecker helped to find them food. Eventually a shepherd took the boys home and raised them as his own children.

As the boys grew older, they became natural leaders. One day Remus was captured and taken to the king, where he discovered his true identity. Romulus, together with some shepherds, attempted to rescue Remus. He killed the king during the rescue. When the city learned who the boys were, they offered to crown them as joint kings, rulers of their homeland. However, the twins turned down the crowns because they wanted to build their own city. They left and set out to find the perfect spot for their city.

The twins came to the place where Rome is located today. They both liked the general area, but each wanted to place the city on a different hill. Romulus wanted the city to be atop Palatine Hill; Remus preferred Aventine Hill. They agreed to wait for a sign from the gods to determine which hill to use. Remus saw the sign of six vultures first, but Romulus saw twelve. Each claimed to have won.

Romulus started building a wall around Palantine Hill. Remus was jealous and made fun of Romulus' wall. He jumped over the wall to show how easy it was to cross. Romulus became angry and killed Remus.

With Remus dead, Romulus continued to build his city. He officially founded the city in 753 BC, making himself king and naming it Rome after himself. Romulus divided his army into legions of 3,300 men. He called his 100 most noble men the Patricians and the elders of Rome he called the Senate. The city grew and prospered. Over time, the city of Rome expanded to cover the seven surrounding hills.

Romulus mysteriously disappeared in a whirlwind.

Source: Ancient Rome: Romulus and Remus
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