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September 10, 2010 / ashithymia


Symbols play an important part in philosophy, belief systems and religion.  One which is particularly a fond story of my grandfathers’ traditional Italian heritage is that of Romulus and Remus.

He has a small figurine version of the large statue of Romulus and Remus, the fabled founders of Rome, being suckled by a Capitoline wolf.  They are heroes by definition, their father being a God and their mother a human being, a royal named Rhea Silvia.  Rhea Silvia’s father leaves Romulus and Remus to die in the wild, but they are saved through being suckled by a mother wolf who cares for them.  Eventually, they are restored to their family and place as royalty.

They acquire followers through their place as royalty and decide to build a new city, but cannot agree upon where to built it.  They approach a priest who tells them that Romulus has more favourable signs and the will of the Gods is to built it where he wants to, on the Palatine Hill.  Remus misinterprets the wills of the auger to mean that the Gods are in his favour and a dispute rises between the brothers, leaving Remus dead.  Romulus names the new city Rome after himself and leads it, eventually being deified as the god Quirinus, the divine persona of the Roman people.

The legend of Romulus and Remus encapsulates Rome’s ideas of itself, its origins, moral values and purpose through the symbol of the two brothers being suckled by the wolf, and also through the story.  The myth is also very problematic and many historians have researched the dates of the deaths of the two brothers and seen that they do not coincide with the recorded dates of Rome’s foundation, and thus it still remains a traditional myth.


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