Young Folks' History of Rome HTML version

3. The Founding Of Rome, B.C. 753—713
Virgil goes on to tell at much length how the king of the country, Latinus, at first made
friends with Æneas, and promised him his daughter Lavinia in marriage; but Turnus, an
Italian chief who had before been a suitor to Lavinia, stirred up a great war, and was only
captured and killed after much hard fighting. However, the white sow was found in the
right place with all her little pigs, and on the spot was founded the city of Alba Longa,
where Æneas and Lavinia reigned until he died, and his descendants, through his two
sons, Ascanius or Iulus, and Æneas Silvius, reigned after him for fifteen generations.
The last of these fifteen was Amulius, who took the throne from his brother Numitor,
who had a daughter named Rhea Silvia, a Vestal virgin. In Greece, the sacred fire of the
goddess Vesta was tended by good men, but in Italy it was the charge of maidens, who
were treated with great honor, but were never allowed to marry under pain of death. So
there was great anger when Rhea Silvia became the mother of twin boys, and, moreover,
said that her husband was the god Mars. But Mars did not save her from being buried
alive, while the two babes were put in a trough on the waters of the river Tiber, there to
perish. The river had overflowed its banks, and left the children on dry ground, where,
however, they were found by a she-wolf, who fondled and fed them like her own
offspring, until a shepherd met with them and took them home to his wife. She called
them Romulus and Remus, and bred them up as shepherds.
When the twin brothers were growing into manhood, there was a fight between the
shepherds of Numitor and Amulius, in which Romulus and Remus did such brave feats
that they were led before Numitor. He enquired into their birth, and their foster-father
told the story of his finding them, showing the trough in which they had been laid; and
thus it became plain that they were the grandsons of Numitor. On finding this out, they
collected an army, with which they drove away Amulius, and brought their grandfather
back to Alba Longa.
They then resolved to build a new city for themselves on one of the seven low hills
beneath which ran the yellow river Tiber; but they were not agreed on which hill to build,
Remus wanting to build on the Aventine Hill, and Romulus on the Palatine. Their
grandfather advised them to watch for omens from the gods, so each stood on his hill and
watched for birds. Remus was the first to see six vultures flying, but Romulus saw
twelve, and therefore the Palatine Hill was made the beginning of the city, and Romulus
was chosen king. Remus was affronted, and when the mud wall was being raised around
the space intended for the city, he leapt over it and laughed, whereupon Romulus struck
him dead, crying out, "So perish all who leap over the walls of my city."
Romulus traced out the form of the city with the plough, and made it almost a square. He
called the name of it Rome, and lived in the midst of it in a mud-hovel, covered with
thatch, in the midst of about fifty families of the old Trojan race, and a great many young
men, outlaws and runaways from the neighboring states, who had joined him. The date of
the building of Rome was supposed to be A.D. 753; and the Romans counted their years
from it, as the Greeks did from the Olympiads, marking the date A.U.C., anno urbis
conditæ, the year of the city being built. The youths who joined Romulus could not
marry, as no one of the neighboring nations would give his daughter to one of these
robbers, as they were esteemed. The nearest neighbors to Rome were the Sabines, and the
Romans cast their eyes in vain on the Sabine ladies, till old Numitor advised Romulus to
proclaim a great feast in honor of Neptune, with games and dances. All the people in the
country round came to it, and when the revelry was at its height each of the unwedded
Romans seized on a Sabine maiden and carried her away to his own house. Six hundred