Did Romulus or Remus die?

Romulus

* around 770 BC. in Alba Longa
+ 7 July 716 BC in Rome
first Roman king from 753 BC. until July 7, 716 BC.

Romulus was the first mythical king and, with his twin brother Remus, the founder of the city of Rome. According to the historian Livy, they were the sons of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia and the god Mars. The priestess in the city of Alba Longa became pregnant and faced the death penalty after giving birth. So she might have invented the story with the god Mars as father in order to keep her life.

For the king of the city, Amulius, the death of his niece would have been more than convenient. He had pushed his brother Numitor out of the royal office and forced Rhea Silvia to the vestal office in order not to be able to bring any more heir to the throne into the world. The incredible story sparked all sorts of rumors. Some claimed that the king himself raped his niece in order to deliberately impregnate her.

Rhea Silvia gave birth to twins, but they were taken away from her immediately after the birth. The king's guards put them in a basket and abandoned him in the Tiber. The basket was washed up downstream and a she-wolf who was nearby and had lost her cubs nursed her until a shepherd named Faustulus became aware of the situation. He took care of the two babies and named them Romulus and Remus.

The story could be more believable if one used the Latin word lupa does not see "she-wolf" in its main meaning, but rather as "prostitute". One of them could have lived with the shepherd and raised the two children from then on. As a result, nobody knew anything about the brothers' royal ancestry.

As a result of the theft of cattle, riots broke out between the residents of Alba Longa and the surrounding small settlements. Remus was brought before Numitor, who was probably a judge at the time, on the matter. He realized that Remus was probably one of his grandchildren and held him tight.

Numitor, who saw the time had come to regain the throne, used this time to mobilize his followers against the king. At the same time, people in the country worried about Remus and Romulus gathered men around them to support him in a rescue operation. Amulius suddenly found himself confronted with internal and external enemies. An effective resistance could no longer be organized and the usurper was killed in the unrest. Numitor was reinstated as king and ended the disputes.

Enlightened about their origins, they decided to found their own city in the place where they grew up. Eventually a dispute arose over which hill the city should be built on and who should be the ruler of it. So they questioned the flight of the birds. On the Aventine, Remus spotted six vultures; Romulus on the Palatine, however, twelve. So Romulus became the first king of Rome on the Palatine Hill and immediately began with the ritual sacrifices and the construction of a fortification. When Remus made fun of the low wall, Romulus slew his twin brother in anger. Later he regretted this act and had a second one built next to his throne in order to have at least symbolically offered his brother co-rule. According to Livy, these events happened in 753 BC.

The official founding date is April 21, 753 BC. Romulus gave the city its name. As it turned out that the surrounding villages on the hills gave up too few people to allow Rome to grow sufficiently, he declared the Capitol Hill to be an asylum site. This allowed the homeless and displaced to settle. He also passed the first laws and set up a government. To this end he appointed a council of a hundred respected men. These formed the Senate. The patricians were to emerge from them at a later time.

There was an imbalance between the sexes in the new city. The Aysl attracted significantly more men than women and the shortage of women made Romulus fear for the future of Rome. So he asked the Sabines to give up unmarried women; what they indignantly rejected. But Romulus did not give up and set an ambush. He invited to a big party and invited the Sabines, who also accepted the invitation. In the midst of the festivities, the Romans seized the Sabine women who had come with them and fled with them.

That meant war and only through the courageous mediation by the Sabine Hersilia could the worst be prevented. Romans and Sabines were reconciled, some of the women who had been stolen remained voluntarily in Rome and the Sabine king Titus Tatius was involved in the government of the still young city. Romulus himself married the courageous Hersilia and ruled his city for 37 years.

He increased the power of the city primarily through alliances - for example with the Sabines - and through the subjugation of neighboring tribes and cities. So Fidenae and Veii came under Roman rule. In gratitude for the victory over the Latins, as a deeply religious person, he had the city's first temple built right at the beginning of his rule, which was dedicated to Iuppiter, the supreme Roman god. When ambassadors from a city were murdered by followers of Titus Tatius and the king himself fell victim to an attempted murder in revenge, Romulus did not lift a finger to help the allies. From his point of view, one murder had challenged the other.

Romulus was extremely popular with the people because of his services and at the height of his power he was officially raptured to the gods by means of a chariot of Mars (Saturn is also mentioned), as he could no longer be found after a storm. Iulius Proculus made an affidavit that the deified Romulus had appeared to him and that he was demanding a sanctuary on the Quirinal. They worshiped him as Romulus-Quirinus, the protector of the city, to whom he prophesied world domination while he was still alive.

Reality could have looked less flattering if one looked at the statements from the 1st century BC. believes. At the end of his reign his spirit seemed to have darkened and he reigned more and more tyrannical. On July 7, 716 BC. Romulus stayed with the dignitaries of the city on the Field of Mars. According to tradition, he was either surveying the army or pronouncing justice when a storm hit and most of those present had to flee to their homes.

The senators, however, stopped around Romulus. After the storm passed, Romulus could no longer be found. Some suspected the senators of murdering him, dismembering him and removing him from under their clothes. This version also has flaws, because all the blood should have been noticed despite the rain. Most likely, the dead Romulus would have been thrown into the Tiber.

The inhabitants of Rome were shocked at the loss of their king. The peasant Proculus (later united by the dynasty of the Julians as Julius Proculus) finally got things moving when he reported that the deified Romulus had appeared to him with the demand for a sanctuary on the Quirinal. Despite the lack of corpse, a tomb was built for the now deified Romulus (or the one that was intended for him was used). It was Lapis niger (Black Stone) and is said to have been in the Roman Forum.

Not even the ancient writers were able to determine from their sources what kind of death Romulus was; the explanations were too different. In addition to the apotheosis, the murder of senators out of tyranny, there was also the less common version about condescending treatment of new citizens who killed him for it.