Unit 3 - Roman Republic
Lesson 1 - The founding of Rome - myth and reality
In ancient times, many different peoples occupied much of the land we now call Italy. Almost 3000 years ago, a town began to develop on the banks of the river Tiber.
This city was Rome and it was to grow gradually in importance until it eventually became the centre of a powerful empire. Ancient Rome was to take over from Greece as the most powerful military and cultural force in Europe.
Although the Romans easily conquered the Greeks; they admired and copied many aspects of Greek culture. The Romans, in turn, had a powerful influence on the development of the later culture of Europe.
The founding of Rome - the myth
The origins of Rome are most famously associated with the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were brought up by a friendly wolf.
‘Long ago and in a faraway country lived Venus. She was the goddess of love and beauty. She had a son called Aeneas. She was very proud of him. He had fought bravely in defending his city, Troy, against its enemies. But when Troy was captured, Aeneas had to flee for his life. He made a long voyage by land and sea and eventually reached the beautiful plain of Latium in Italy. Here he married the King's daughter and founded a kingdom of his own.
Many, many years passed, and the kingdom entered troubled times. Numitor, one of Aeneas' descendants, was now King. His daughter Rhea had just given birth to twin sons called Romulus and Remus. Their father was Mars, the mighty god of war. It should have been a happy time for Numitor. But his wicked brother Amulius wanted his kingdom and drove Numitor out of the country. Amulius ordered his soldiers to throw the babies Romulus and Remus into the River Tiber. But the babies didn't drown. They were washed ashore. A she-wolf heard them crying, took them away and cared for them alongside her cubs. Later they were discovered by a shepherd, who carried the boys home and looked after them as if they were his own children.
The boys grew up strong and brave, and with their help their grandfather, King Numitor, won back his throne from his brother. Romulus then began to build a city of his own. He chose a place where the River Tiber could be crossed, surrounded by seven hills overlooking the river. But Remus made fun of him and the city he was building. The twins fought each other and Remus was killed. But Romulus carried on building. And when he finished his city he became its first King. The city was called Rome. After reigning as King for forty years, Romulus mysteriously disappeared in the darkness of a great storm and became a god.'