According to legend Romulus and Remus founded Rome. The story says they were thrown into the Tiber river. After floating downstream to the Palatine, they are discovered and nurtured by a she-wolf.
Upon maturation, they erect a city wall at the place where they had been rescued by the she-wolf.
Later, the two argue over who is favored by the gods to name the new city. The upshot of this conflict is that Romulus – or maybe one of his henchmen – murders Remus.
Romulus then becomes the first ruler of Rome and names the city after himself.
The ancient writers Plutarch and Livy treat this tale as if it were actual history. But today, we have a different story:
The origins of the different elements in Rome’s foundation myth are a subject of ongoing debate. they may have come from the Romans’ own indigenous origins, or from Hellenic influences that were included later. Definitively identifying those original elements has so far eluded the classical academic community. Although the tale takes place before the founding of Rome around 750 BC, the earliest known written account of the myth is from the late 3rd century BC. There is an ongoing debate about how and when the “complete” fable came together.¹
As noted elsewhere, the Romulus and Remus myth is not the only story about the founding of Rome:
The founding of Rome is understood in terms of two mythic tales. One about Romulus and Remus. The other about Aeneas. The Romulus and Remus myth seems to have mostly won out. Any popular videos I’ve seen about Rome tell about their being suckled by a she-wolf but ignore the tale of Aeneas. Such is life… and history.
I’m not a Roman historian so, rather than spend days rewriting something I’m only mildly interested in, I have highlighted some main points here. Readers wanting more could also check out the lively podcast at Spotify: The History of Rome (mobile).²
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