Tuesday, April 22, 2008

dies romae natalis

[The forum Romanum from the Palatine hill, where Romulus (supposedly) recieved his favourable omen from the gods]

I'm meant to be on holidays, but I couldn't let such an important date go unremarked. Yesterday Rome celebrated its 2761st birthday. There are some great photos of the celebrations at Rome here, here and here.

April 21st, 753 B.C. is the traditional date for the founding of the city by Romulus and Remus; this is how Livy recounts events:

Ita Numitori Albana re permissa Romulum Remumque cupido cepit in iis locis ubi expositi ubique educati erant urbis condendae...

Romulus and Remus, after the control of Alba had passed to Numitor in the way I have described, were suddenly seized by the desire to found a new settlement on the spot where they had been exposed and subsequently brought up...

Intervenit deinde his cogitationibus avitum malum, regni cupido, atque inde foedum certamen coortum a satis miti principio.

Unhappily the brothers' plans for the future were marred by the same source which had divided their grandfather and Amulius- a lust for power. A disgraceful quarrel arose from a matter in itself trivial.

Quoniam gemini essent nec aetatis verecundia discrimen facere posset, ut di quorum tutelae ea loca essent auguriis legerent qui nomen novae urbi daret, qui conditam imperio regeret, Palatium Romulus, Remus Aventinum ad inaugurandum templa capiunt.

Since they were twins and no distinction of age could be made between them, they determined to ask the gods under whose care those places were, to declare by means of augury who should govern the new city, once it had been founded, and give his name to it. Romulus took to the Palatine Hill, Remus to the Aventine, in order to take the auguries.

Priori Remo augurium venisse fertur, sex voltures; iamque nuntiato augurio cum duplex numerus Romulo se ostendisset, utrumque regem sua multitudo consalutauerat: tempore illi praecepto, at hi numero auium regnum trahebant. Inde cum altercatione congressi certamine irarum ad caedem vertuntur; ibi in turba ictus Remus cecidit.

Remus, so the story goes, was the first to receive a sign- six vultures; and no sooner was this announced than double the number of birds appeared to Romulus. The followers of each promptly hailed their own master as king, one side basing its claim upon priority, the other upon number. Angry words ensued, followed by blows, their anger turned to violence, and there, in the crowd, Remus was struck and fell down dead.

Volgatior fama est ludibrio fratris Remum novos transiluisse muros; inde ab irato Romulo, cum verbis quoque increpitans adiecisset, "Sic deinde, quicumque alius transiliet moenia mea," interfectum. Ita solus potitus imperio Romulus; condita urbs conditoris nomine appellata.

There is another, more common story, that Remus, making fun of his brother, jumped over the newly-built walls, whereupon Romulus killed him in a fit of rage, adding the threat, 'So perish whoever else shall overleap my battlements.' In this way Romulus gained sole possession of power; the city, having been founded, was took its name from its founder.


Mike Salter said...

Hi Joel,

My wife accidentally clicked on this page, and was shocked to hear that the well-known footballer Romae Natalis had died... ;-)

Anonymous said...


... I like our translation better.

Is all our holiday homework due first day back?

Anonymous said...

homework is due first day back. see you then.