Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.


The epics of Homer, the wars of Caesar, and temples and palaces characterize the image of classic antiquity and the cultures of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. They are the sources from which the Western world draws the foundations of its philosophy, literature, and, not least of all, its state organization. The Greek city-states, above all Athens, were the birthplace of democracy. The regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and great parts of Northwest Europe were forged together into the Roman Empire, which survived until the time of the Great Migration of Peoples. Mighty empires also existed beyond the ancient Mediterranean world, however, such as those of the Mauryas in India and the Han in China.


Alexander the Great



Rome: From the Beginnings to the End of the Republic

753-82 B.C.


1 Aeneas pays tribute to the Penates,
who accompanied him from Troy to Rome

Rome's early self-conception was derived primarily from the republican myth of its 1 founding. Its rise followed the political fall of the Etruscans and their incorporation into the new Republic. Rome first gained control of all of Italy, then spread its hegemony throughout the Mediterranean area and into the Near East. The two pillars of Roman rule were, internally, its republican constitution, and, externally, its expansion. The first crumbled through social unrest, making possible the emergence of military dictators from Marius to Julius Caesar, but the second continued unabated as Rome continued to expand its sphere of influence.

Myth, Founding, and Early Period

The myth of its founding shaped Rome's self-image and its identity as a state. Out of the battle for military power came the disparity in status between the upper (patrician) and the lower (plebeian) classes.

In no other world empire did the myth of its creation play such a pivotal role in the state as in Rome.

The Romans traced their ancestry back to the Trojan hero Aeneas, who—according to Virgil's Aeneid—landed in Italy and founded Alba Longa, the mother city of Rome, 3 Romulus, however, is regarded as the founder—on the traditional date of April 21, 753 B.C.— and first king of Rome.

3 Romulus and Remus decide where to build
the city of Rome by reading the flight of birds

Altogether, seven kings ruled over Rome, the last of which, Tarquinius Superbus, was toppled in 510 B.C.

The cause was, among other things, his son's 5 rape of Lucretia, the wife of the nobleman Collatinus.

5 Lucretia, painting by
Lucas Cranach the Elder

see collection:  Tarquin and Lucretia

It was his nephew, 6 Junius Brutus, who was said to have initiated the reforms instrumental to the creation of the consulate.

6 Bust of Junius Brutus

In reality, 2, 4, 7 Rome was founded as an Etruscan colony around 650 B.C., perhaps even as late as 575 B.C.

At first it was ruled by Etruscan kings from the Tarquin royal family, but after the defeat of the Etruscans at Cumae in 474 B.C., Rome disposed of their rule. Even during the time of the monarchy, Rome was characterized by the division of its citizens into "horsemen" (knights), from whom the later patrician families descended, and the masses (plebs) who made up the lower military ranks. The supreme commander of the army (praetor maximus) made the decisions concerning military leadership posts, all of which were soon filled by patricians. With the adoption of the Greek phalanx form of warfare, the lower ranks became increasingly important; competition for military leadership positions thereafter evolved into a struggle between patricians and plebeians over access to political offices in general and came to characterize Roman history. Early Rome, like the Greek cities, experienced severe social  conflicts when, through agrarian crises and overpopulation, farmers and peasants became increasingly impoverished and were forced into bonded servitude.

2 Reconstruction of the Capitol with the temple of Jupiter
and Forum Romanum, end of second ń B.C.

4 Reconstruction of the antique Forum Romanum
as it looked after its completion,
wood engraving, ca. 1880

7 Forum Romanum: View of the temple of Saturn, built 498 B.C.



Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars. They were abandoned at the Tiber River and suckled by a she-wolf—which became the symbol of Rome.

Romulus later struck his brother dead for jumping over the foundation walls of Rome, as no one was ever supposed to "vault" the impregnable city walls of Rome.



The Capitolian She-Wolf. Etruscan sculpture. 500 B.C.



Romulus and Remus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Romulus (c. 771 BC[1]–c. 717 BC) and Remus (c. 771 BC–c. 753 BC) are the traditional founders of Rome, appearing in Roman mythology as the twin sons of the priestess Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god of war, Mars. According to the tradition recorded as history by Plutarch and Livy, Romulus served as the first King of Rome.

Romulus slew Remus over a dispute about which one of the two brothers had the support of the local deities to rule the new city and give it his name. The name they gave the city was Rome. Supposedly, Romulus had stood on one hill and Remus another, and a circle of birds flew over Romulus, signifying that he should be king. After founding Rome, Romulus not only created the Roman Legions and the Roman Senate, but also added citizens to his new city by abducting the women of the neighboring Sabine tribes, which resulted in the mixture of the Sabines and Romans into one people. Romulus would become ancient Rome's greatest conqueror, adding large amounts of territory and people to the dominion of Rome.

After his death, Romulus was deified as the god Quirinus, the divine persona of the Roman people. He now is regarded as a mythological figure, and it is supposed that his name is a back-formation from the name Rome, which may ultimately derive from a word for "river". Some scholars, notably Andrea Carandini believe in the historicity of Romulus, in part because of the 1988 discovery of the Murus Romuli on the north slope of the Palatine Hill in Rome.

Romulus and Remus are pre-eminent among the famous feral children in mythology and fiction.

Life before Rome
Before Romulus and Remus were born, their grandfather Numitor and his brother Amulius, descendants of fugitives from Troy, received the throne of Alba Longa upon their father’s death. Numitor received the sovereign powers as his birthright while Amulius received the royal treasury, including the gold Aeneas brought with him from Troy.

Because Amulius held the treasury, thus having more power than his brother, he dethroned Numitor as the rightful king. Out of fear that Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, would produce children who one day would overthrow him as king, he forced Rhea to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess sworn to abstinence. But Mars, god of war, (in Greek, Ares) was smitten by her and secretly while she slept bore her two sons. They were twin boys, as told, of remarkable size and beauty, later named Romulus and Remus. Amulius was enraged and ordered Rhea and the twins killed. Accounts vary on how; in one account, he had Rhea buried alive (the standard punishment for Vestal Virgins who violated their vow of celibacy) and ordered the death of the twins by exposure; In another, he ordered Rhea and the twins thrown into the Tiber.

The servant ordered to kill the twins could not, however, because they were too beautiful and innocent, the servant placed the two in a basket and laid the basket on the banks of the Tiber river and went away. The river, which was in flood, rose and gently carried the basket and the twins downstream.

Altar from Ostia showing the discovery of Romulus and Remus (now at the Palazzo Massimo)Romulus and Remus were kept safe by the river deity Tiberinus, who made the cradle catch in the roots of a fig tree growing in the Velabrum swamp, which therefore, has a high symbolic significance. He then brought the infant twins up onto the Palatine Hill. There, they were nursed by a wolf, Lupa in Latin. Lupa is a name for the priestesses of a fox goddess, leading to an alternative theory that the wolf was human. There is speculation that the nurturers were harlots (she-wolf being a name for them in ancient Rome) They were nurtured underneath a fig tree and were fed by a woodpecker. Both animals were sacred to Mars.

Romulus and Remus were then discovered by Faustulus, a shepherd for Amulius, who brought the children to his home. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the boys as their own. The roots of her name imply a religious cult of an earth mother. Some mythological traditions have her as the prostitute 'she-wolf' who suckled Rome's founders.

In another Roman legend Hercules married Acca Larentia off to the shepherd Faustulus, who saved the lives of the twins Romulus and Remus after they had been thrown into the Tiber. Acca Larentia had twelve sons, and on the death of one of them, Romulus took his place. He and the remaining eleven, founded the college of the Arval brothers Fratres Arvales. Acca Larentia is therefore identified with the Dea Dia of that collegium. The flamen Quirinalis acted in the role of Romulus (deified as Quirinus) to perform funerary rites for his foster mother (as the goddess).

Another, later tradition relates that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a wolf, has been explained by the suggestion that Larentia was called Lupa (courtesan, literally she-wolf) on account of her immoral character (Livy i. 4; Ovid, Fasti, iii. 55).

Yet another tradition relates also that Romulus and Remus were nursed by the Wolf-Goddess Lupa or Luperca, who was identified with Acca Larentia, whose rapport with wolves kept them from harming the sheep, but add that Luperca's husband is the Wolf-and-Shepherd-God Lupercus who brought fertility to the flocks.

The many names associated with Acca Laurentia, are, Acca Larenta, Larentia, Laurentia, Lara, Larunda, Larenta, Larentina, and Mater Larum, the "Mother of the Lares" as well as, Fauna, who had an oracle on the nearby Aventine Hill and was the wife of Faunus, the Bona Dea, Lupa, Luperca, and Dea Dia.

In 2007 the Lupercal where supposedly the children were found being suckled by the wolf was discovered by archaeologists. Its location is 52 feet (16 m) beneath Palatine Hill. Although the main worship area has been unearthed, it is a fragile grotto and already partially caved-in. Because of this, it would not survive a full-scale dig, leaving archaeologists to examine the remaining sections with sensitive tools such as endoscopes and laser scanners.

Nonetheless, once their origins are resolved, most traditions agree that as they grew, their noble birth showed itself in their size and beauty while they were still children. When they grew up, they were manly and high-spirited, of invincible courage and daring. Romulus, however, was thought the wiser and more politic of the two, and in his discussions with the neighbors about pasture and hunting, gave them opportunities of noting that his disposition was one which led him to command rather than to obey.

On account of these qualities, they were beloved by their equals and the poor, but they despised the king's officers and bailiffs as being no braver than they were, and cared neither for their anger nor their threats. They led the lives and followed the pursuits of nobly born men, not valuing sloth and idleness, but exercise and hunting, defending the land against brigands, capturing plunderers, and avenging those who had suffered wrong. Thus they became famous throughout Latium.

One day when Romulus and Remus were eighteen years old, a quarrel occurred between the shepherds of Numitor and the shepherds of Amulius. Some of Numitor’s shepherds drove off many of Amulius’s cattle, causing Amulius’s men to become enraged. Romulus and Remus gathered the shepherds together, found and killed Numitor’s shepherds, and recovered the lost cattle. To the displeasure of Numitor, Romulus and Remus collected and took into their company many needy men and slaves of Numitor, exhibiting seditious boldness and temper.

Pietro da Cortona, Romulus and Remus given shelter by Faustulus While Romulus was engaged in some sacrifice, as he was fond of sacrifices and the deities, some of Numitor’s shepherds attacked Remus and some of his friends and a battle broke out. After both sides took many wounds, Numitor’s shepherds prevailed and took Remus as their prisoner and returned him to Numitor for punishment. Numitor did not punish Remus, because he was in fear of Amulius, but went to Amulius and asked for justice, since he was his brother, and he had been insulted by the royal servants. The people of Alba Longa, too, sympathized with Numitor, and thought that he had been undeservedly outraged. Amulius was therefore induced to hand Remus over to Numitor to treat him as he saw fit.

When Numitor took Remus to his home for punishment, he was amazed at the young man's superiority in stature and strength of body. After hearing of his acts and deeds and of his noble virtues, Numitor asked Remus of his birth and who he really was. When Remus told him that they had been found and nursed by a wolf on the banks of the Tiber river, and conjecturing Remus’s age from his looks, he began to think of the possibility that Remus was Rhea's son.

Upon Romulus's return from his sacrifices, Faustulus told Romulus that Remus had been captured and told him to go to his brother’s aid. Romulus left Faustulus and set out to levy an army to march against Alba Longa. Faustulus took the cradle in which he had found Romulus and Remus and quickly ran to Alba Longa. When Faustulus reached the gates of the city, the guards stopped him. By chance, one of the guards had been the servant who had taken the boys to the river. This man, upon seeing the cradle, and recognizing it, knew that Faustulus spoke the truth, and without any delay told the matter to Amulius, and brought the man before him to be examined. He admitted that Romulus and Remus were alive and well, but said they lived at a distance from Alba Longa as herdsmen.

Acting out of fear and rage, Amulius quickly sent a friend of Numitor to see if he had heard any report of the twins being alive. As soon as the man entered Numitor’s house, he found Numitor embracing Remus, thus confirming that Remus was Numitor’s grandson. He then advised Numitor and Remus to act quickly, for Romulus was marching on the city with an army of those who hated and feared Amulius. Remus acted quickly and incited the citizens within the city to revolt, and at the same time Romulus attacked from without. Amulius, without taking a single step or making any plan for his own safety, out of sheer confusion, was taken to be put to death.

The Founding of Rome
With Amulius dead, the city settled down and offered Romulus and Remus the joint crown. However, the twins refused to be the kings so long as their grandfather was still alive, and would not live in the city as subjects. Thus after restoring the kingship to Numitor and properly honoring their mother Rhea Silvia, the two left Alba Longa to found their own city upon the slopes of the Palatine Hill. Before they left Alba Longa, however, they took with them fugitives, runaway slaves, and all others who wanted a second chance at life.

Once Romulus and Remus arrived at the Palatine Hill, the two argued over where the exact position of the city should be. Romulus was set on building the city upon the Palatine, but Remus wanted to build the city on the strategic and easily fortified Aventine Hill (The Greek author Dionysius, however, places Remus' location at a place named "Remoria" after Remus himself. The precise location of Remoria is not known today). They agreed to settle their argument by testing their abilities as augurs and by the will of the deities. Each took a seat on the ground apart from one another, and, according to Plutarch, Remus saw six vultures (which were considered to be sacred to Mars, their father), while Romulus saw twelve.

Remus was enraged by Romulus’s victory. He claimed that since he had seen his six vultures first, he should have won. When Romulus began digging a trench (or building a wall, according to Dionysius) where his city's boundary was to run on April 21, 753 BC, Remus ridiculed some parts of the work, and obstructed others. At last, Remus leapt across the trench, an omen of bad luck, since this implied that the city fortifications would be easily breached. In response, Remus was killed.

We know of four possible ways Remus could have been killed - the most common being that his brother Romulus killed him (Livy's "account more generally received": "Remus, in derision of his brother, leaped over the new wall, and Romulus, enraged thereat, slew him, uttering at the same time this imprecation: 'So perish every one that shall hereafter leap over my wall'"). Livy's alternative version simply states, in a passive voice, that Remus was dead, without noting either that he was murdered or, by whom; he simply "became dead". The two other lesser known accounts state that a) Remus was killed by Romulus' commander Fabius with a shovel (St. Jerome) or that b) Celer, whose relation to Romulus is uncertain, killed Remus by striking him across the head with his spade. Once the fighting subsided, Romulus buried Remus before continuing to build his city. He named the city Roma after himself, and served as its first king.

After the completion of the city, Romulus divided the people of Rome who were able to fight into regiments of 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry. Romulus called these regiments "legions". The rest of the people became the populace of the city, and out of the populace, Romulus hand selected 100 of the most noble men to serve as a council for the city. He called these men Patricians and their council the Roman Senate. Romulus called these noble men Patricians not only because they were the fathers of legitimate sons, but also because he intended the great and the wealthy to treat the weak and the poor as fathers treat their sons. This delineates, symbolically, the inauguration of the patron-client relationship, known as clientela, which was central to Roman culture and society, and was later passed down to medieval societies.

Romulus spread the reputation of Rome as an asylum to all who desired a new life. Because of this, Rome attracted a population of exiles, refugees, murderers, criminals, and runaway slaves. Rome's population grew so much that the city settled five of the seven hills of Rome: the Capitoline Hill, the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Palatine Hill. Romulus, however, saw a problem quickly forming before him: few of the foreigners had wives. Romulus decided he needed to fill his city with women as well.

To solve his problems, Romulus held a festival, the Consualia, and invited the neighboring Sabine tribe to attend as his guests. The Sabines came en mass, and brought with them their daughters. Romulus planned to kidnap the Sabine women and bring them back to Rome as citizens. When the Sabines arrived, Romulus sat amongst the senators, clad in purple. The signal that the time had come for the onslaught was to be his rising and folding his cloak, and then throwing it round him again. Armed with swords, many of his followers kept their eyes intently upon him, and when the signal was given, his nobles drew their swords, rushed in with shouts, and captured the daughters of the Sabines, but permitted and encouraged the men to escape unharmed. In all, some 700 Sabine women were captured and brought back to Rome. This event is remembered in various works of art titled "Rape of the Sabine Women".

Romus and Remulus


Romus and Remulus


Pietro da Cortona
Romulus and Remus given shelter by Faustulus


Jean-Auguste Ingres
Romulus, Victor over Acron, hauls the rich booty to the temple of Jupiter


War with the Sabines
The Sabines, although a numerous and war-like people, found themselves bound by precious hostages, and fearing for their daughters, they sent ambassadors with reasonable and moderate demands that Romulus should give back their maidens, disavow his deed of violence, and then, by persuasion and legal enactment, establish a friendly relationship between the two peoples. Romulus would not surrender the maidens, and demanded that the Sabines should allow their marriage with the Romans, whereupon they all held long deliberations and made extensive preparations for war.

Romulus, Victor over Acron, hauls the rich booty to the temple of Jupiter, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres While most of the Sabines were still busy with their preparations, the people of a few cities banded together against the Romans, and in a battle which ensued, they were defeated, and surrendered to Romulus their cities, their territory to be divided, and themselves to be transported to Rome. Romulus distributed among the citizens all the territory thus acquired, excepting that which belonged to the parents of the ravished maidens; this he suffered its owners to keep for themselves.

This enraged the Sabines, and in response appointed Titus Tatius as the supreme commander-in-chief of all the Sabines, who then marched his army on Rome. The city was difficult to access, having as its fortress the Capitoline Hill, on which a guard had been stationed, with a man named Tarpeius as its captain. But supposedly, Tarpeia, a daughter of the commander, betrayed the citadel to the Sabines, having set her heart on the golden armlets that she saw them wearing, and she asked as payment for her treachery that which they wore on their left arms. Tatius agreed to this, whereupon she opened one of the gates by night and let the Sabines in. Once inside, Tatius ordered his Sabines, mindful of their agreement, to not begrudge her anything they wore on their left arms. Tatius was first to take from his arm not only his armlet, but at the same time his shield, and cast them upon her. All his men followed his example, and then she was smitten by the gold and buried under the shields, and died from the number and weight of them. This theme may imply the transition from one religious tradition to another.

With the Sabines controlling the Capitoline Hill, Romulus angrily challenged them to open battle, and Tatius boldly accepted. The Sabines marched down the Capitoline and battled the Romans between the hills in a swampy area which would one day become the Roman Forum. The Sabines overran the Romans and the Romans were forced back behind the very walls of Rome upon the Palatine Hill. From behind the walls, the Romans began to flee the battle. Romulus bowed down and prayed to Jupiter and the Romans rallied back to Romulus and made a stand. Later, on the very spot where Romulus prayed, a temple to Jupiter Stator ("the stayer") was built. Romulus led the Romans on and they drove the Sabines back to the point where the Temple of Vesta later would stand.

The Sabine Women, by Jacques-Louis David Here, as the Romans and Sabines were preparing to renew the battle, they were stopped by the sight of the ravished daughters of the Sabines rushing from the city of Rome through the infantry and the dead bodies. The Sabine women ran up to their husbands and their fathers, some carrying young children in their arms. Both armies were so moved to compassion, they drew apart to give the women place between the battle lines. The Sabine women begged their Roman husbands and their Sabine fathers and brothers to accept one another and live as one nation. With sorrow running through the ranks, a truce was made and the leaders held a conference. It was decided that both Romulus and Tatius would rule as joint kings of the Romans, including the newly added Sabines.

Rome doubled in its size. With the Romans inhabiting the Palatine Hill and the Sabines inhabiting the Quirinal Hill, the two nations chose a third hill to serve as the center of government and administration for the city of Rome, the Capitoline Hill. From the new Sabine citizens, 100 new noble men were selected to become Patricians and joined the ranks of the Senate. The legions were doubled in size, from 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry to 6000 infantry and 600 cavalry. The cultures of the Romans and Sabine also combined in this union. The Sabines adopted the Roman calendar, and the Romans adopted the armor and oblong shield of the Sabines.

Rape of the Sabine Women


Nicolas Poussin
Rape of the Sabine Women


Giovanni Bologna
Rape of the Sabine Women


Rape of the Sabine Women,  Romanelli decoration


Luca Giordano
Rape of the Sabine Women


Rape of the Sabine Women


Jacques-Louis David
Rape of the Sabine Women


Johann Heinrich Schonfeld
Rape of the Sabine Women


Michelle Katona
Rape of the Sabine Women


Pablo Picasso
Rape of the Sabine Women


Life after the founding of Rome
After five years of joint rule, Tatius was assassinated by foreign ambassadors and Romulus became the sole king of the Romans. Romulus introduced legislation that prevented adultery and murder. As the king of Rome, Romulus was not only the commander-in-chief of the army, but also the city’s chief judicial authority. His judgments of many crimes were held in place for over six hundred years without a single case being reported in Rome of his judgments being questioned.

Under Romulus' administration, the people of Rome were divided into three tribes: one for Latins (Ramnes), a second for Sabines (Titites), and a third for Etruscans (Luceres).

These three tribes became the Romans. Each of these tribes had a tribune who represented their respective tribes in all civil, religious, and military affairs. When in the city, they were the magistrates of their tribes, and performed sacrifices on their behalf, and in times of war they were Rome's military commanders. The Ramnes derived their name from Romulus, the Tities derived their name from Titus Tatius, and the Luceres derived their name from an Etruscan title of honor.

After creating the three tribes, the Comitia Curiata were instituted. To form the basis of the Comitia Curiate, Romulus divided each of the three tribes into ten curiae, with the thirty curiae deriving their individual names from thirty Sabine women whom Romulus and his followers had kidnapped.

Each of the individual curia then were subdivided into ten gentes, which formed the basis for the nomen in the Roman naming convention. When Romulus would convene the Comitia Curiate and lay proposals from either him or the senate before the Curiate for ratification, the ten gentes within each curia would cast a vote, with the collective vote of the curia going to the majority of the gentes. This formed the basis for the modern Electoral College.

Romulus, being a martial man, formed his own personal guard, called the Celeres. The Celeres consisted of Rome's three hundred finest horsemen who were under the command of the Celerum Tribune, who was also the Tribune for the Ramnes tribe. The Celeres derived their name from their leader, a close friend of Romulus named Celers who helped him slay Remus and found the city of Rome. This special military unit functioned very much like the Praetorian Guard of Augustus as it was responsible for Romulus' personal safety and for the security of Rome while the legions were on her borders. The relationship between Romulus and his Tribune also is similar to the relation between the Roman Dictator and his Magister Equitum. Celer, as the Celerum Tribune, occupied the second place in the state, and in Romulus' absence he had the rights of convoking the Comitia and commanding the armies.

From the founding of Rome until his death, Romulus waged wars and expanded his territory, thus Rome's territory, for over two decades. He conquered many of the neighboring cities, namely Etruscan cities, and gained unequaled control over the area of Latium, Tuscany, Umbria, and Abruzzo. In what would become the traditional Roman style of warfare, although Romulus may have lost some battles along the way, he never lost a single war in which he fought.

After his final wars against the Etruscans, the king of Alba Longa, Numitor, Romulus’ biological grandfather, died. The people of Alba Longa freely offered the crown to Romulus, believing he was the one rightful ruler of the city as the blood heir to Numitor. Romulus accepted dominion over the city, but gained much favor with the city’s populace by placing the government in the hands of the people within the city. Once a year, Romulus appointed a governor over the city, a man selected by the people of Alba Longa.

During later years, Romulus grew to rely less and less upon the Senate. Though this was entirely legal, it went against tradition. The Senate essentially had lost its influence, holding no say in the administration of the city. The Senate could only be convened when Romulus called for it, and once assembled, the Senators merely sat in silence and listened to his edicts. The Senators soon found that their only advantage over the commoners was that they learned what Romulus decreed sooner than the commoners did. On his own authority, he divided the territory acquired in war among his soldiers, and without the consent or wish of the Patricians. The Patricians thought he was insulting their Senate outright. Although the Senators grew to hate him, they feared him too much to defy him openly and show him their displeasure.

Death or ascension
There is a legend dating to sometime in the first century BC that conflates Romulus and the god Quirinus. According to this legend, Romulus's life ended in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, with a supernatural disappearance, if he was not slain by the Senate.

One day, when Romulus and all the people had gone to the Campus Martius, a sudden storm arose. The darkness became so great that the people fled in terror. When the storm was over, the Romans returned. To their surprise, however, Romulus had disappeared. The people sent for him, but none could find him. The people were amazed, and were all talking about his sudden disappearance, and wondering what could have become of their king, when one of the Senators stood up and called for silence.

After the Senator calmed the mass of people, he told the assembled Romans that he had seen Romulus being carried up into the heavens. Romulus, the Senator said, had called out that he was going to live with the deities, and wished his people to worship him as the god Quirinus. In response, the Romans built a temple on the hill where the Senator said that Romulus had risen to heaven. This hill was called the Quirinal Hill in Romulus' honor, and for many years the Romans worshiped Romulus, the founder of their city, and their first king from that very spot.

Plutarch (Life of Numa Pompilius) tells the legend with a note of skepticism:

"It was the thirty-seventh year, counted from the foundation of Rome, when Romulus, then reigning, did, on the fifth day of the month of July, called the Caprotine Nones, offer a public sacrifice at the Goat's Marsh, in presence of the senate and people of Rome. Suddenly the sky was darkened, a thick cloud of storm and rain settled on the earth; the common people fled in affright, and were dispersed; and in this whirlwind Romulus disappeared, his body being never found either living or dead. A foul suspicion presently attached to the patricians, and rumors were current among the people as if that they, weary of kingly government, and exasperated of late by the imperious deportment of Romulus toward them, had plotted against his life and made him away, so that they might assume the authority and government into their own hands. This suspicion they sought to turn aside by decreeing divine honors to Romulus, as to one not dead, but translated to a higher condition. And Proculus, a man of note, took oath that he saw Romulus caught up into heaven in his arms and vestments, and heard him, as he ascended, cry out that they should hereafter style him by the name of Quirinus."

Livy also reports on this event:

"Then a few voices began to proclaim Romulus's divinity; the cry was taken up, and at last every man present hailed him as a god and son of a god, and prayed to him to be forever gracious and to protect his children. However, even on this great occasion there were, I believe, a few dissenters who secretly maintained that the king had been torn to pieces by the senators. At all events the story got about, though in veiled terms; but it was not important, as awe, and admiration for Romulus's greatness, set the seal upon the other version of his end, which was, moreover, given further credit by the timely action of a certain Julius Proculus, a man, we are told, honored for his wise counsel on weighty matters. The loss of the king had left the people in an uneasy mood and suspicious of the senators, and Proculus, aware of the prevalent temper, conceived the shrewd idea of addressing the Assembly. Romulus, he declared, the father of our city descended from heaven at dawn this morning and appeared to me. In awe and reverence I stood before him, praying for permission to look upon his face without sin. "Go", he said, "and tell the Romans that by heaven's will my Rome shall be capital of the world. Let them learn to be soldiers. Let them know, and teach their children, that no power on earth can stand against Roman arms". Having spoken these words, he was taken up again into the sky."
(Livy, 1.16, trans. A. de Selincourt, The Early History of Rome, 34-35)
As the god Quirinus, Romulus joined Jupiter and Mars in the Archaic Triad. Quirinus was depicted as a bearded warrior in both religious and battle clothing wielding a spear, thus he is viewed a god of war and as the strength of the Roman people, but more importantly, as the deified likeness of the city of Rome itself. Quirinus received a Flamen Maior called the Flamen Quirinalis, who oversaw his worship and rituals. After Romulus' death, he was succeeded by Numa Pompilius as the second King of Rome.



The Struggle over the Constitution of the Republic

The early laws of Rome and political leadership by two consuls worked towards the realization of the balance between the patrician and the plebeian classes, which was always threatening to tip.

The first Roman law code, the Twelve Tables, was drawn up around 450 B.C. under pressure from the plebeians. It remained the basis of Roman law up until the early emperors.

It guaranteed, among other things, wide-ranging legal equality of 11 patricians and plebeians.

The class struggle did not come to an end until 300 B.C., however, when the plebeians were granted access to the higher state offices (magistrate) and positions in the priesthood.

The political system of the new republic was geared toward creating a political balance between the patricians and the plebeians. The 8 Senate, the supreme advisory body to the magistrate, was forced to accept plebeians. However, as the Senate remained dominated by patricians, the plebeians were granted the influential office of "tribune of the people," which publicly represented the rights of the people and allowed them their own assembly. Rome now had a mixed constitution with monarchic (magistrate), aristocratic (Senate) and democratic (people's assembly) elements.

The seminal event in the struggle for equal rights was the consulship constitution of 367 B.C .

11 Romulus divides the population into patricians and plebeians

8 Senators with the son of a
senator or philosopher,
Fragment of a sarcophagus


It allowed for the 9 election of two consuls—ideally one patrician and one plebeian - for a one-year term.

These two principal magistrates were joined by a praetor ("he who goes ahead") as the highest civil court officer and "arbitrator." The two counsuls were each elected for one year during the time of the Roman Republic. They were, in case of war, also joint supreme commanders of the armed forces, as long as no dictator was elected. The two-counsul system remained in force as well during the Roman Empire.

When internal stability had been reestablished after the 12 Gauls sacked the city in 387 B.C., Rome began building up its world empire in the third and second centuries. By subjugating the Etruscans, and with the victory over the central Italian Samnites, Rome gained control over all of Italy and was also able to assert itself in the Mediterranean against the sea powers of Sicily and Carthage. In numerous wars, Rome was able to extend its power from western Europe into Greece and the Near East. The last deadly threat to Rome was the unsuccessful Carthaginian expedition led by Hannibal against Rome between 218-201 B.C.

With its well-equipped and disciplined 10 army, its system of Roman colonies, and its practice of conferring Roman citizenship or perpetual alliances on defeated and subjugated foes. Rome could concentrate, as Athens had done before it in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., on the development of internal republican freedom and external expansion.

9 Dinar depicting a voter
submitting his vote for an election

12 Conquest and plundering of Rome by the Gauls under Brennus, 387 B.C., wood engraving, 19th century

10 Roman soldier, colored lithograph,
ca. 1860



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