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Gianluca Pica
 


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BLOG OF A TOUR GUIDE IN ROME

22/08/2019, 12:32

#unaguidaturisticaroma, #atourguiderome, #romeisus, #rome, #roma, #rubens, #art, #arte, #pittura, #romolo, #remo



THE-MYTH-OF-ROMULUS-AND-REMUS


 A canvas by Rubens, one of the main painters of the XVII century, is able to show us the most important episode in the ancient world: the beginning of the history of Rome...



If you go to the Capitoline Museums you could not loose the painting collections, full of majestic works of art, as this canvas from the 1615 painted by a master like Rubens. Here you can really read and see the legend about the foundation of Rome, happened at the 753 BC. It is the act which brought the two twins, mainly Romulus, to find the most powerful city of the ancient world. This episode is narrated by different literary sources, from Varrone to Plutarco. Some details changed but basically the event is one. Keep in mind how we are talking about a legend, not more... It is interesting to notice how all the main characters of the episode are in the painting, set in this wonderful bucolic atmosphere made by Rubens. We are talking about the VIII century BC, so you could not imagine cities, walls and monuments! We see at the foreground the famous she wolf with the two twins, but also the sheperd Faustolo at the background and the muscular man at the left with a woman: he is the personification of the Tiber and she is Rea Silvia, the mother of the two babies. Do you know the legend? The events began at Alba Longa, the mythical city founded by Ascanio, the Aeneas’ son. After 30 generations the king of Alba Longa was Amulio, who usurped the throne of his brother, Numitore. The usurper was a cruel man, so much that he killed the two Numitore’s sons, forcing Rea Silvia (the Numitore’s sister) to be a Vestal Virgin. Keep in mind how the Vestals, for the literary sources, appeared in the Roman world when Rome was already founded... Moreover the most important trait followed by the Vestals was just one: verginity. In this was Amulio was sure to have not other hiers who could threaten his power. But Rea Silvia got pregnant due to Mars, the God of the Mars (and originally the God of the Fertility). Their love story and sexual meeting was very strange, because for the chronicles Mars appeared in front of Rea Silvia as a giant...penis! Of course, Rea Silvia could not resist and she had two babies, Romulus and Remus. When Amulio knew about his abomination he killed Rea Silvia and ordered to two slaves to abandon the babies in a basket. As Moses, the object was abandoned in the water of the river. Amulio was sure that an agitated river could not forgive... But in a miraculous way the twins survived, due to the water of the Tiber that got slow and quite. Slowly slowly the basket touched the shore. According to one version the twins were brought to a puddle, named "Cermalus" by the Romans. According to another version the basket went directly inside a natural cave, the famous "Lupercale", set in the southern slope of the Palatine Hill. And here the other main character of the episode is coming: the she wolf! It seems that exactly at that moment the wild animal was going down from the top of the Palatine Hill, in order to drink the pure water of the river. The animal saw the babies without eat them! They were nursed by the she wolf, who went against her instincts. Imagine how the she wolf was a sacred animal strongly related to Mars. For some literary sources there was also a woodpecker, another sacred animal for Mars, who helped the babies bringing them something to eat. Then is time for Faustolo, the poor sheperd who found the basketa and the animals, being a spectator of this incredible moment. Faustolo took the twins, raising them as his own child. Another important character if the episode is not in the canvas by Rubens: Acca Larenzia. Who was this enigmatic figure? Keep in mind how talking about legends the theories are different! Officialy she was the Faustolo’s wife, but for others Acca Larenzia symbolized something different. She was not a wife, but a prostitute! A prostitute, in the ancient Rome, used to work in the so called "lupanari" (and the italilan word for she wolf is "lupa), who were official brothels. But the whole myth painted by Rubens is a great symbol: Rome must be founded, Rome must exist and Gods wanted it. The fate of the two twins is clear: they must be saved and helped by the Natura and the human being, in order to found the most powerful city of the ancient times. Fascinating... #unaguidaturisticaroma #atourguiderome #romeisus #rome #roma #remus #mythology #myth #legend #palatinehill #shewolf #romulus
 



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