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Numitor, King of Alba, had been ousted by his brutal brother, Amulius. Amulius made sure Numitor would have no heirs by forcing Numitor’s only child, his daughter, Rhea Silvia, to spend her days as a vestal virgin, serving in the temple of Venus, goddess of the hearth.
Nevertheless, Rhea subsequently gave birth to twin boys, Romulus and Remus. Their
father was not a man, but Mars, god of war. When Amulius found out what had happened,
he slew Rhea Silvia and had the two boys thrown into the Tiber River.
The river bore the twins safely ashore, where they were found by a she-wolf who suckled them with her milk. The wolf looked after them until they were found by Faustulus, one of the old king’s shepherds, who adopted them as his own. When the boys were grown, Faustulus told them who their father was and described their mother’s fate. Romulus and Remus avenged he by killing Amulius, and they restored Numitor to the throne. They then decided to build a city on the Tiber River. Realizing that only one of them could be its ruler, they sought guidance from the gods. Each climbed a high mountain to see what he could see. Remus saw a flight of six vultures, but Romulus saw twelve. Therefore Romulus, judging that the gods had favored him, began to lay the foundations of the city of Rome. He plowed a furrow to mark where the walls would be. But Remus mocked him, leaping over the thin furrow and saying that Rome’s enemies would be able to get over its walls just as easily. Romulus was so furious he struck his brother dead. The city was built. It had a ruler, but no citizens. So Romulus declared Rome’s sacred grove to be a sanctuary, and it soon filled with outlaws and fugitives, whom Romulus welcomed as his subjects. But there were still no women. So Romulus organized some games and invited his neighbours, the Sabines. While the Sabine men were enjoying themselves, he and his men carried off many of the Sabine women to Rome. Bloody war followed, but eventually the women themselves stopped the fighting, begging their new husbands and their fathers not to slaughter themselves needlessly. Romulus, the founder of Rome, was not to be its earthly ruler for very long. For his father, Mars, begged almighty Jupiter to make Romulus a god. When Jupiter agreed, Mars descended in his chariot and swept Romulus away. The body of the living man melted into thin air. From heaven, Romulus oversaw the rise, and fall, of the great nation he had founded.
According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus, who was the son of Mars, the god of war, and Rhea Silvia, a human. The city, set on seven hills, was probably occupied during the Bronze Age, but appears in history in the 8th century BC. The Romulus legend seems to have originated in the 4th century BC.
According to the story, after a battle with his twin brother Remus, Romulus became the first king of the new land before being spirited away to Mount Olympus. He was supposedly followed by Numa Pompilius, a wise ruler who is said to have contributed to the development of the modern calendar.
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