The Parsifal project (2018-1-PL01-KA201-050865) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Romolo and Remo and the foundation of Rome

Original version
Romolo and Remo were descendents of Aeneas, Virgilio’s Aeneid’ hero. Their mother was Rea Silvia, Numitore’s daughter. Numitore was the king of Alba Longa. Rea Silva was obliged to become a vestal by her uncle Amulio.who did not want her to have children. But Rea Silvia was so beautiful that even the God Mars fell in love with her. He had her, and she gave birth to Romolo and Remo. Amulio ordered the twins to be drowned in the river Tiber, but the servant appointed to do it lacked the courage and he left them in a basket on the river bank. The basket was carried by the river. A she wolf who had just lost her puppies found the twins and breastfed them. Once they got older, Romolo and Remo discovered their origins and decided to revenge Alba Longa’s throne. They killed Amulio and gave the throne to their grandfather, Numitore. As they didn’t want to share the power, they asked to found a new city, in the area where they had grown up, near the Palatino hill, helped by many servants. The twins quarreled over who was born first and should be the king of the new city. After a terrible argument, Romolo killed Remo and he became the first king of Rome.
Alternative versions
There are countless versions of the legend of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. All want to glorify the ancestors of the Romans and the Julian family (Gens Julia) from time to time aimed at removing (or adding) honor and rights to the Romans. The legend of the founding of Rome is reported by the Roman historian Livy in Book I of his History of Rome.
Main characters
Twin boys A she wolf A king The God Mars A Virgin
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
The Lupercale is the most famous place of the myth of the history of Rome, it is the place where the she-wolf would have nursed the twins Romulus and Remus.It was discovered in 2007 near the walls of the house of Augustus, in a depression under the slopes of the Palatine hill and in an area between the Temple of Apollo and the Church of Sant'Anastasia, 16 meters deep. The nymphaeum-shaped structure is a cave that is partly natural and partly artificial, about 9 meters high and 7.5 in diameter. The vault is decorated with coffered panels, framing non-figurative geometric motifs made of mosaic with polychrome marble tesserae, and is further enhanced by rows of white shells and by the white eagle of Augustus in the center of the vault itself. Apparently, by building his residence right there, the emperor wanted to annex to his villa that highly symbolic place in the history of Rome. The Capitoline Wolf, one of the symbolic statues of Rome, shows Romulus and Remus being fed by the wolf. As recent studies and analyzes have confirmed, this bronze statue (preserved in the Capitoline Museums in Rome) dates back to the Middle Ages (XI-XII century), probably a copy of an Etruscan original copy.
Local traditions or historical connections
Romolo and Remo, Romulus and Remus, are, in the tradition of Roman mythology, twin brothers, one of whom, Romulus, was the eponymous founder of the city of Rome and its first king. The founding date is indicated by tradition on April 21, 753 BC, also called “Natale di Roma” Rome’s Birthday. According to the legend they were the sons of Rhea Silvia (Rhea Silvia), descendant of Aeneas, and Mars . The legends of the origins of Rome developed when the city had the dominion on a large part of the world. It was therefore important to surround its origin with a mythical and extraordinary legend: divine origins and a heroic descent, the Trojan Aeneas. However, studies and archaeological discoveries have supported these legendary elements thanks to safe historical data. For example, recent excavations have brought to light the foundations of a city wall dating back to the 8th century BC, the foundation of the city, dated by the ancients in 753 BC The legend celebrated in the Aeneid of Virgil (70-19 BC) was based on the story of Aeneas, a Trojan prince, the son of Venus and Anchises. He fled from Troy with his father and son Ascanio (or Iulo, the progenitor of the lineage Iulia, from which Giulio Cesare and Ottaviano Augusto will also descend), according to the story by Virgil Enea reached Lazio, where he married Lavinia – the daughter of King Latino - and founded the city of Lavinio. From the descendants of Aeneas and Ascanius a great new city would then be born: Rome. Based on the story by Virgil, one of the greatest Roman historians, Tito Livio, who lived at the end of the 1st century BC, narrated the foundation of Rome by the most famous descendants of Ascanio: Romulus and Remus in his work Annali (in Latin Ab urbe condita) Lupercalia is an ancient Roman festival that was conducted annually on February 15 under the superintendence of a corporation of priests called Luperci. The origins of the festival are obscure, although the likely derivation of its name from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) has variously suggested connections with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus.
Didactical Relevance
The students can develop their knowledge on the history of Ancient Rome, starting from its legendary foundation. The legend is also relevant to the study of Latin literature and in particular of Virgil’s Aeneid
Didactical Activity
Step 1: Start the didactical activity with Geography. Ask the students to geolocalize the city of Rome in Central Italy. Ask them to consider the central position of the city in the Tiber Valley and to consider its economic relevance for the region and for Italy. Consider the network of connections (the railways, the highways, the airports) which make the city a “hub” for tourism, economy, culture. Find all the European and International destinations which can be easily reached from Rome. Find out the resources for tourism offered by the city, such as the churches, the museums, the monuments, the parks, the exhibitions, the theatres and opera house, the shopping districts and others. Step 2: A study of the History of the city can complement the general picture: have the students research on the Roman history of the city of Rome, the Kingdom, the Republic and the Empire. Step 3. Art: Ask the students to localize the Palatine Hill on the map of Rome and to look for pictures of the Roman monuments which can still be visited on the hill and in the Forum, and in general all the Roman monuments in the city. Step 4. Literature: It is important to teach the students how to read a legend and to connect it to local traditions and history. Ask the students to read the legend and reflect on it. The presence of twin brothers and an animal is common to many other legends all over Europe, ask the students to read the other legends by the partners on this “Parsifal” portal and to select those which have the same characters characters, then ask them to find common elements and differences. To develop their creative writing ability, it is possible to ask the students to write their own version of the legend. Step 5. A class trip to Rome (a two-day trip)


The legend of the foundation of Rome


The Lupercale
One of the few images of the cave considered to be the Lupercale, the place where the twin brothers were nursed by the She-Wolf in the Palatine Hill
The bronze statue of the She-Wolf in the Town Hall in Rome
Mars and Rea Silva in a famous painting by Rubens

PDF version of the legend in national language