Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Roman Foundation Myths

There are two myths that tell of the foundation of Ancient Rome. These two myths include the myth of Romulus and Remus, the twin boys raised by a wolf, and the myth of Aeneas, son of the goddess Aphrodite. These two myths show the founding of Rome in two very different ways. ( Barnett 28)

The myth of Aeneas is about how a young man begins the founding of Rome. Aeneas was born to a very attractive man named Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father, Anchises, can trace his ancestors back to the son of Zeus, Dardanus. (Marks and Tingay 5)

The legend begins with the Greeks laying siege to Troy and killed almost all of the people in the city. One prince of Troy escaped by boat and sailed all the way to Italy. His name was Aeneas. Aeneas landed on the west coast of Italy at Laurentum. The king of the Latins, Latinus, had a daughter named Lavinia. Aeneas and Latinus formed an alliance and Aeneas married Lavinia. Aeneas and his wife Lavinia had a son named Ascanius. Alba Longa was the city founded by Ascanius. Ascanius was the first of a 400 year rule of kings to follow. This is where Rome was founded. (Marks and Tingay 5)

The second myth of the founding of Rome is the legend of the twin boys named Romulus and Remus. Romulus and Remus are the twin boys that were born to the god Mars and the mortal Rhea Silvia. When the twins were born they were placed in a basket to float down the Tiber River and to die. They were placed there by their great uncle because he did not want them to be a threat to his power. The twins were found by a she-wolf and the wolf raised them.

The she-wolf raised them until one day a shepherd named Faustulus and his wife found the boys. They then raised the twins as if they were their own. Years later when the twins were old enough they decided to found their own city. Romulus and Remus looked to the sky and to the birds. After seeing the signs they saw that Romulus' section of the city would be twice the size of Remus'. The twins quarreled and Remus was either killed by Romulus or just disappeared. Romulus did continue to build up his city, which was named Rome.

In conclusion there are two very different myths about the founding of Rome. One to do with a Trojan Prince and the other to do with wolf raised twin boys. Both of these myths have survived throughout the centuries to be very well known.

Barnett, Mary. Gods and Myths of the Romans: the Archaeology and Mythology of Ancient Peoples. Smithmark Publishers. New York. 1996

Marks, Anthony, and Graham Tingay. The Romans. Usborne. London. 1990.


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