Mythical Story the Founding of RomeThe Romans trace their ancestory back to a Trojan hero named Aeneas. Aeneas' father was Anchises, a handsome and daring young man. His mother was the goddess Aphrodite. The story is told that Aphrodite saw Anchises in the fields and was taken by his looks. She came to Anchises, but he refused her fearing that a mortal mixing with a goddess would harm him. So Aphrodite disguised herself as a daughter of a king. After becoming pregnant with his child, Aphrodite revealed her identy to Anchises but told him to keep it secret.
Aeneas was raised by Nymphs and received his education from Cheiron, the King of the centaurs. During the Trojan wars, he served under the command of Hector, the Prince of the Trojans. Aeneas was encouraged by Apollo to challenge the Greek warrior Achilles. Poseidon removed Aeneas from the area to preserve him so that he could become the future leader of Troy. However, when Troy was destroyed, Aeneas began an odyssey very similar to that of Odysseus in Homer's tales. Instead of trying to return home like Odysseus did, Aeneas tried to find a new home.
Aeneas went through a series of adventures trying to find a place to settle with his fellow Trojans. They encountered Harpies and bleeding bogs. At the urging of Juno, Aeneas and his companions were attacked by the god of the winds Aeolus. There were then protected by Neptune. who keep them from being shipwrecked and from other perils. Finally Aeneas arrived in Carthage where Cupid disguised himself as the son of Aeneas and influenced the Queen Dido to fall in love with Aeneas. Aeneas did fall in love with Dido. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, was sent to visit Aeneas twice to remind him of his destiny and to get him to break away from Dido, after which Aeneas resumed his journey to his new land.
After landing in Italy, Aeneas was tried to determine where to settle. Aeneas visited Cumaean Sibyl, a prophetess who had access to the underworld through a cave with a hundred openings. Sibyl agreed to be the guide and directed Aeneas to take an item from a nearby magical bough which was sacred to Proserpine, wife of Pluto. Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx, allowed Aeneas to pass because of the item from the magical bough. In the underworld, Aeneas spoke to his father Achises and was told where to settle. He returned from the underworld and sailed again to the Tiber River in a land called Latium.
Aeneas, after beating a rival tribe who had been pitted against him by Juno, began to rule the area where he settled. For twelve generations the throne was passed peacefully down until the thirteenth king, Numitor. Numitor was removed from the throne by his own brother Amulius. Amulius tried to make sure that none of Numitor's descendents could challenge him for the throne. Amulius killed both of his nephews and appointed his niece Rhea Silvia a Vestal Virgin. This position forced Rhea to stay a virgin, which would eliminate any prospect of Numitor's children to challenge Amulius.
Mars, the god of war and farming, became enamored with Rhea, and depending on the account, seduced or raped her. She became pregnant and gave birth to two sons, Romulus and Remus. Amulius had Rhea imprisoned. He put the two boys in a basket and tossed it into the Tiber River. The boys were saved by their father Mars, who sent two animals to feed them. A she wolf fed the boys until they were discovered by a shepherd named Fausulaus. The boys were sheltered by the sheppherd and his wife until they had grown. The boys were united with their grandfather Numitor, and they then planned revenge on Amulius. The three, along with a band of shepherds, stormed the palace and killed Amulius and restored Numitor to the throne.
After restoring Numitor to the throne, Romulus and Remus set out to establish their own city with some of their shepherd followers. They planned to establish the city on the banks of the Tiber where they were discovered. The brothers began to argue over the city's design and name. They decided to settle their dispute by seeking a sign from the gods. They decided that who ever saw a flight of vultures first would be the winner. Remus was positioned on Aventine Hill, while Romulus was on Palentine Hill. Remus was the first to see six vultures, while shortly after Romulus saw twelve vultures. Remus claimed that he had won since he saw the birds first. Romulus claimed that he had won the contest since he saw a dozen of the birds. A fight broke out between their followers. Remus was killed, and Romulus set himself up as ruler. He named the city Rome.
Another version of the story has Romulus winning the contest with the birds flying over the hill which he was on. When Romulus began to build the walls of the city, Remus jumped over a walls. Romulus was so insulted that he killed his brother and stated that anyone who tries to come over the walls of his city would meet the same fate.