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Myths and legends

Romulus and Remus

A statue of Romulus and Remus with the she-wolfA statue of Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Rhea Silvia, the only daughter of King Numitor, and the god Mars. When Amulius, Numitor’s brother, who had seized Numitor’s crown, found out about the twins, he immediately ordered that they should be thrown into the River Tiber. But, instead of drowning, the boys floated downstream, coming ashore near a fig tree. A she-wolf fed the twin boys and kept them alive until a shepherd, Faustulus, found them. He and his wife raised the boys. When they grew up, they killed Amulius and put their grandfather Numitor back on the throne.

Romulus killing Remus with a spearRomulus killing Remus with a spear

The founding of Rome

Romulus and Remus vowed to found a new city at the place where Faustulus had discovered them. But they quarrelled over the exact location—Romulus favoured the Palatine Hill, while Remus preferred the Aventine Hill. Believing that an omen had declared that he should be the sole founder, Romulus began to build the new city wall, Remus leapt over it, mocking his brother for thinking that it could be high enough to keep anyone out. Enraged, Romulus killed Remus. When completed, the new city was named after him: Rome.

The legend of Romulus and Remus dates the founding of Rome to 753 BC. The archaeological evidence does suggest that walls on the Palatine Hill, at the centre of the modern city, date from that period.

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