Roman Legend: The Founding of Rome

The brothers Romulus and Remus, together with their friends and followers, decided that they would found a new city, but they argued about who would be king.

"I will be king," insisted Romulus, "and I will name the city after myself."

"No!" protested Remus. "I will be king and the city will be named after me."

The brothers also argued about where to build the city. Romulus wanted to build the city on the Palatine Hill, while Remus preferred the Aventine Hill. In order to resolve their dispute, they decided to ask the gods. Romulus and Remus each went to their hill and then prayed to the gods to send them sacred birds as signs of divine favor.

On the first day, no birds were seen, but at the dawn of the second day, sacred vultures appeared in the sky. From the Aventine Hill Remus was able to see six sacred vultures, but Romulus then saw twelve vultures from the Palatine Hill. Remus claimed that the gods favored him because his birds had appeared first, but Romulus claimed that he had won because he had seen more birds.

The brothers asked their friends and followers whom they supported, Romulus or Remus. Romulus was the popular favorite, and so he was the one who began to build the city.

As Romulus started building the city's outer wall, Remus laughed and said, "What kind of city will this be with such a ridiculous little wall to defend it?" Remus then leaped over the wall. Romulus was infuriated and killed his brother. "So may every man perish," he shouted, "who dares to violate the wall of my city." Later, Romulus regretted the death of his brother and buried him with great honors.

Finally, in the year 753 B.C.E., Romulus completed the city and named it Rome.

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