Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Founding of Rome

The ancient Romans were a great nation. They aggregated many things from other countries and nations in aspects of architecture, religion, military, things in their daily life (clothing), and etcetera. Rome developed a government which consisted of many divisions and leaderships, put in place to maintain an even standard of power, mostly because of the Romans hatred of kingship. The Romans were also quite brilliant in architects; although they did "steal" other countries ideas (for example, the Colosseum is derived from the Greeks), they developed many practical public architectural concepts. The Roman roads were of those practical creations, along with the aqueducts and sewer systems. However, despite all these great things that the Romans accomplished, the question arises, where did all this start? There are myths which give us brief insight to what the Romans believed how Rome was founded. (Source)

There are two main foundational myths for the start of Rome, the first, Virgil's Aeneid which illustrates the adventures of Aeneas (supposedly son of Aphrodite/Venus), the second myth is the story of Romulus and Remus. Romulus and Remus were twins born of the god Mars (Ares) and a Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia. Because the twins were in fact born of a daughter of a king, the king feared that the twins would take his throne so he put the babies into a trough and set the trough in the Tiber River while it was in a state of flooding. Somehow, the twins survived and when the river fell after the flood the trough came upon ground. Anyway, the twins were then raised first by a woodpecker and then a wolf, both animals of Mars. When Romulus and Remus were older they decided to build a village/settlement/country. During the process of building the brothers got into an argument and Romulus subsequently killed Remus, and named the city Roma (Rome) after his own name. However, before Remus is killed, the twins revolted against the king who had put them in the Tiber River and defeated him. The brothers used this victory as a foundation for their to-be country.(Source, Remus: A Roman Myth, Wiseman)

The Aeneid is a secondary, or literary, epic by the poet Virgil which tells of Aeneas and the surviving Trojans after the fall of Troy. Aeneas, along with the survivors of Troy, is inspired to adventure to the Italian peninsula to found Rome. The journey is a long one, and many conflicts and obstructions are strewn throughout the story. For example, Aeneas had gone through struggles and goes to Carthage, where a Phoenician princess, Dido, feels empathetic towards Aeneas' suffering and falls in love with him. However, Aeneas is reminded of the goal of founding Rome and leaves Carthage. Dido is suppressed with great sorrow and builds a great pyre upon which she kills herself with the sword Aeneas left behind. In the story Aeneas arrives in Italy and founds Rome, however, along with battles and conflict. (Source 1, Source 2 The Aeneid, Virgil)

These two myths are in fact myths and are not the true stories of how Rome was founded. Knowledge of the true founding of Rome is not fully known, but it is believed that the Latins settled in Italy and were very rural, consisting of farmers, shepherds, and such. However, it is asked how is that just a simple rural folk came into being as the greatest power in the Mediterranean area. This could be because of the central location in the Mediterranean (which is good for trade), the political accomplishments, the utilizing of other countries ideas, and also partly chance. (Source)

Wiseman, Timothy Peter. Remus: A Roman Myth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Virgil. The Aeneid. Allyn and Bacon, 1904.