ROMULUS

From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

ROMULUS was the founder and first king of Rome. According to tradition, his mother was Rhea Sylvia, a daughter of Numitor, king of Alba, and one of the priestesses of Vesta, who were employed in preserving the fire sacred to this goddess, and were bound to spend their lives in strict chastity. She was devoted to the service of Vesta, by her uncle Amulius, who had deprived her father of his throne, and wished to prevent her from having posterity who might dispossess him of his usurped crown. But the royal maid forgot her vow of chastity, and male twins were the fruit of her clandestine amour. In order to escape the horrible punishment denounced by the law against those vestals who violated their vows, Rhea Sylvia gave out that Mars, the god of war, was the father of her children. This artifice saved the mother, and a fortunate accident her children, who were exposed by command of Amulius in a wild and desert country on the banks of the Tiber. Here a she wolf is said to have found them, and to have suckled them until chance brought thither a countryman, Faustulus byname, who took them home and educated them. With him Romulus and Remus spent their youth, exercising themselves in the chase, and sometimes in rapine. The younger, Remus, was taken prisoner by the servants of Amulius, and his courageous brother collected a small band of enterprising companions, with whom he not only freed his brother, but likewise deprived Amulius of his usurped throne, and reinstated his old grandfather Numitor in his dominions. After the termination of this exploit, Romulus, in connexion with his brother, resolved to build a city. The gods, it is said, during a solemn sacrifice, pointed out the proper site, by the flight of seven eagles. Thus was Rome founded in the year 752 (according to others 754) B. C. The unanimity which had heretofore prevailed between the two brothers, ended with this enterprise : either from ambition or a sudden burst of anger, Romulus imbrued his hands in his brother's blood. According to another tradition, Remus fled from the anger of his brother beyond the Alps, and founded Rheims. The small numbers of friends who had followed Romulus were by no means sufficient to people his city ; he saw himself, therefore, compelled to make it a place of refuge for every houseless exile. Men enough were thereby gained , but the Roman citizens soon wanted women, and their proposals for the daughters of the neighboring cities were rejected by the fathers of the maidens, who looked with an envious eye on the increase of this city. On this account Romulus instituted a religious festival, to which h<e invited the Sabines (see the article $abinesJt with their wives and daughters. They came ; but, in the midst of the festival, the unarmed strangers were suddenly attacked, and deprived of their wives and daughters, and every Roman hastened to provide himself with a female companion. The two states thus became engaged in war; JUI the entreaties of the ravished females, who threw themselves between the contending parties, at length effected a peace, and Rome gained by her union with the Sabines an important addition. Many successful wars, which always ended in additions of population and territory to the infant state, confirmed and extended its power. Romulus was strict and arbitrary ; too much so, perhaps, for his subjects : and his sudden disappearance naturally excited the conjecture that he fell by the hand of a malcontent. According to tradition, he ascended to heaven into the company of the gods, after he had completed the work of founding the eternal city; and, until the introduction of Christianity, Rome worshipped its founder in temples expressly dedicated to him. It is likewise possible that he was struck by lightning; for his disappearance is said to have happened during a thunderstorm, while he was without the city, near the marshes of Caprea, reviewing his army. Romulus reigned about thirtyseven years, and was about fifty years of age; and the rude, but, considering the time and circumstances, the appropriate laws and ordinances, which he gave his people, bear witness of his capacity as a ruler. When Romulus died, Rome, according to a census which he caused to be made a short time before his death, is said to have contained between 3000 and 4000 men capable of bearing arms. (See Rome.)