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The story of Romulus and Remus is considered an ancient myth or legend about the establishment of the Roman Empire. The reason the story is considered a myth or a legend has to do with all of the supernatural elements that are contained within the tale.
Alba Longa was an ancient Italian city that was ruled by a king named Numitor. This particular king would soon become the grandfather of Romulus and Remus. King Numitor had a brother named Amulius who removed him from the throne. Amulius killed the king’s male heirs and took his daughter Rhea Silvia and made her a Vestal virgin. Amulius did not want any of the king’s children to seek revenge on him since he usurped his throne. Rhea Silvia was an extremely beautiful woman and because she was a vestal virgin she had to remain sexually pure in honor of the goddess Vesta. Any Vesta Virgin that was caught in the act of having sex was supposed to be put to death.
Rhea Silvia’s beauty eventually attracted the attention of a Roman god by the name of Mars. This particular deity got Rhea Silvia pregnant, and Amulius was about to kill her for this deed. Rhea conceived two boys, but King Amulius took both of them and threw them into the River Tiber since he did not want them to avenge their grandfather who was the rightful ruler of Alba Longa. Once the boys were disposed of in the River Tiber, they were discovered by a she-wolf and a woodpecker that fed and protected the boys. These two animals are representatives of the god Mars and some speculate that he sent them to the boys to take care of them. .
Eventually, the boys would be discovered by a shepherd named Faustulus, who took the boys back home to be raised by his wife. After they had been old and strong enough, the boys disposed of Amulius and restored their grandfather Numitor back to his rightful position as king. After the king had taken power once again, the Twins realized that they needed to start a kingdom of their own, so they searched for a suitable location to set up their kingdom. The boys chose Palatine Hill where they were cared for by the she-wolf and woodpecker. As Romulus began to build walls for the city his brother, Remus mocked him by jumping over the walls. Then in a fit of rage Romulus slew his brother and became the sole ruler of the kingdom.
After the death of his brother, King Romulus continued to build the city, and he named it Rome. The first citizens were outlaws and fugitives. Romulus then decided to steal women from a neighboring kingdom known as Sabine. He invited these people and their families to a big event and when the men of Sabine were preoccupied he had their women carried off for his male citizens.
The men of Sabine went to war with the Romans, but the conflict was stopped when the Sabine women admitted that they liked the men of Rome better than their former countrymen. Rome more than likely grew up over time from small tribal settlements in southern Italy. Historians and scholars believe that the myth of Romulus and Remus is just a story that was told by the early Romans to glorify the history of their kingdom and culture. The story of Romulus and Remus has at least two different versions, and they are still used today to describe how Rome as established.