Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1, 752 BC – End of Roma

The ancient experiment of building a new city upon the backs of outcasts came to an end when the allied armies of the Latins stormed Roma. Led by King Acron of the Caeninenses, the armies had joined upon the suggestion of fighting to end the city of Rome once and for all after its treachery at the festival of Neptune Equester. The enormous unified armies of the Latins crushed the Romans despite heavy losses with their king Romulus executed for crimes against womanhood.

It was an end to a tragic life. Romulus and his twin brother Remus had been born sons of the god Mars by the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, the deposed king of Alba Longa and descendant of the Trojan Aeneas. Amulius, who had deposed his brother Numitor, had Rhea executed and the boys exposed to ensure his place on the throne, but they were discovered by a she-wolf, who suckled them to health. They would then be found by shepherds, who would raise them to adulthood.

As shepherds, they came into arguments with the shepherds of King Amulius, who captures Remus and discovers his identity. With the reality known, Romulus and Remus killed Amulius, restored their grandfather Numitor to the throne, and set off to make their own kingdom by building a city. The brothers argued almost immediately about which hill to build upon, and Romulus won via augury. As construction began upon the Palatine Hill, Remus criticized the work and, for final insult, jumped over the half-built wall. Romulus killed his brother and declared famously, "So perish every one that shall hereafter leap over my wall!"

When his city (named Roma after himself) was completed, Romulus selected the best one hundred men, naming them Patricians and creating a senate structure to aid him rule as fathers of the city. He organized the fighting men into his newly invented “legion” and depended more heavily on infantry than cavalry. The revolutionary city exploded in population, attracting exiles, criminals, runaways, ne’er-do-wells, and general vagrants. Most of these were males, and so the boomtown became grossly disproportionate with the sexes.

Taking Numitor’s advice, Romulus decided to celebrate the festival of Neptune and invited the Latin people of the surrounding cities. Many came, particularly the Sabines. At Romulus’ signal, the men of Rome pounced, carrying off as many virgins as they could—683 according to ancient sources. Rather than sexual rape, the kidnapped women were invited to marry Roman husbands and granted shared property and civil rights in a city of free men. The women agreed to these progressive ideals, but the cities of their fathers rallied to take back their daughters. As they began to march, the Caeninenses held as spies detected the strength of the Roman army. Deciding to use cunning to deliver might, their king Acron called for a council with the other kings of the Antemnates, Crustumini, and the Sabines. Their unified army overwhelmed the Romans and decimated the city, punishing any woman who wept for her lost husband (and rights). Romulus, who had committed the sin of fratricide, was deserted by Mars and punished by Juno.

As per the ancient prophecy that the descendants of Aeneas would lead to a great nation, the truth came as Acron used the opportunity to create a permanent military confederation with the other cities. Unlike many of the Greek empires where dominant cities ruled over weaker ones and demanded tribute, the confederation was one of equals, usually only seen under the duress of war against a common enemy. The Italian Confederation would spread over the peninsula and create many colonies in the west while successfully defeating Greek attempts to colonize from the east.

Despite centuries of success, the Confederation would eventually be broken by the strength of the Carthaginian Empire, the embodiment of the curse of its ancient queen and abandoned lover of Aeneas, Dido. Carthage would go on to build a widespread merchant empire through Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa until its own fall by invasion of the German Vandals. Even with its ultimate failure, the Italian ideals of confederation and equality would be a landmark looked back upon by political thinkers in the Enlightenment, serving as groundwork for breakaway Angle colonies of the New World (giving freedom to men but notably ignoring liberties of slaves and women).

In reality, the Latin towns attacked Rome one by one, and Romulus soundly defeated each in turn. The first were the Caeninenses with their king Acron killed in battle. Romulus returned to his city to hold the first “triumph”, a parade celebrating victory in battle and containing many thankful sacrifices to the gods, primarily Jupiter. Rome would have many more triumphs over its years of transforming from a kingdom to a republic to an empire and conquering the known world from the Pillars of Hercules (Spain) to the Euphrates (Mesopotamia) as well as serving as a model for renewed theories of government in the 1700s.


  1. we revisit an echo of this idea in 752 BC - revengeful Caeninenses slay Remus but in the variant scenario, Romulus is the victim of the fratricide.

  2. we revisit an echo of this idea in 752 BC - revengeful Caeninenses slay Remus but in the variant scenario, Romulus is the victim of the fratricide.


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