The history of people who lived on the Palatine hill in Rome can be traced to 753 B.C.
One might ask how so definite a date can be cited and indeed there is archaeological
evidence to prove that a people did live on the Palatine Hill during the end of the
Bronze Age, about 1000 B.C. About 100 years ago, an archeologist unearthed remains of a wall and
post holes, where earlier huts had been erected, all of
which date back to the 8th century B.C. These are visible when one visits the Palatine excavation site today.
Another source often cited for affirmation of this date of 753 B.C. is the historian Livy. Livy (T. Livius) who had lived from 59 B.C. to 17 AD, wrote "Ab Urbe Condita" in which he chronicles much of Roman history. His source for the period that predated him was oral tradition and the written works of Varro (116-27 BC) Sallust (86-34 BC).
Legend was that Romans (and in particular, the Julian clan of the Caesars) are descendants of Aeneas, son of Anchises, a mortal, and Venus. When Troy lost the war against the Greeks, Aeneas, his father and his son together with several other Trojans fled on orders from mother Venus (AKA Aphrodite). His wife Creusa was lost while fleeing the burning city (conveniently for Aeneas).
Once in Latium, the area in which modern Rome sits today, Aeneas fought with Turnus, chief of the Rutulians, married Lavinia (whom Turnus had planned to wed), and founded a city which he named Lavinium (now Practica di Mare). His son Ascanius (or Iulus),in turn, founded a new city, Alba Longa. Could this have been? Venus as the mother of Aeneas adds one dimension of doubt to the story. The other is that the Trojan War of which Homer sang, probably occurred in the 12th or 13th century. Carthage was not founded until the 8th century and it was in Carthage that Aeneas is said to have been detoured for a time from his destiny.
The tale of Romulus and Remus probably has some basis in fact however. As mentioned previously, there is evidence of 8th century dwellings on the Palatine and Quirinal Hills. The oval hut foundations on the Palatine and burial urns in the shape of huts found in the valley of the Forum Romanum help verify not only that there were dwellings on the site as far back as the 8th century BC, but what they may have looked like as well.
The tale of Romulus and Remus however probably is fiction with some basis in truth. Thus we accept that Rome was founded in 753 B.C. The first Romans are said to have been only men and many of whom were fugitives from their native areas.
Sabines, Etruscans and Romans were all, in turn, kings who ruled over the new city. The Sabine connection came first. Livy writes of the rape of the Sabine women and the topic has by well explored over the centuries by artists. The Romans had sought marriage contracts with their neighbors but were rejected. They solved the problem by hosting a festival (with games of course) to honor Neptune. It is hard to turn down such an invitation. Neptune did not take rejection well. So while the games were being enjoyed by one and all, the Romans swooped down on the Sabines and ran off with their unmarried young ladies. They had the element of surprise as well as an unarmed and unsuspecting quarry in their favor. One did not bring weapons to a festival. The Romans then convinced the captured maidens that they could be happy as their wives. When their fathers and brothers returned armed and ready to fight to free them, they declared they preferred not be both widowed and orphaned the same day. They sued for peace and won it. The Etruscans became rulers later but their influence was early. At the time of the settlement of Rome, Etruria (make sure to click on Larth as your tour guide) (modern Tuscany) was a thriving city with developed artisan skills. There is much evidence of her wealth and her peoples' artistic talents. From the Etruscans who had borrowed the techniques from the Greeks, the Romans received the art of writing and building, a style of dress and the symbol of the fasces. (inset picture here) The following table indicates the period and accomplishments of each of the seven kings.
|753 BC||Romulus||Alba Longa||
|715 BC||Numa Pompilus||Sabine (Plutarch) but might be Etruscan.||
plague may have been in Rome
Tullius fell ill, sacrificed to Jupiter incorrectly and was killed by a thunderbolt.
|642 BC||Ancus Martius||Sabine||
-obtained throne by fraud
-murdered by sons of Ancus Martius
|578 BC||Servius Tullius-
Came to rule after his wife, Servius' daughter, instigated the killing of her first husband, goaded Tarquinius to proclaim himself king, and throw Servius into the street to be murdered. She then ran over his fallen body with her carriage, and thus the street bears the name Vicus Sceleratus.
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