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Classical Rome


THE AGE OF THE KINGS

History of Rome: The wolf while fed Romolus and Remus

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According to tradition, Rome was founded in 753 AC by Romulus at the top of the Capitoline Hill, where already since the IX century BC used to live groups of shepherds and peasants.

The legend of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus nursed by the she-wolf is represented by many monuments, such as the statue of the Capitoline she-wolf placed at the Capitoline Museums. The origin of the name of the city has different explications. It could derive from the ancient name of the Tiber, "Rumen", to mean the city of the river; from the name of its legendary founder Romulus; from the Greek word "romé", to mean strength, or else it could refer to the breast of the she wolf that nursed the twins.
The Roman people, born from the melting of three different peoples, the Latins, the Etruscans, and the Sabine, slowly began to settle in the other hills of the city and to build bridges in order to cross the river and settle on the Tiberine isle. Even as far as the name of Palatine Hill is concerned we can not say for sure from where it derives. Perhaps it was named after Pales, the patron divinity of the shepherds, or after "palus", the marsh formed by the floods of the Tiber. It is sure that later the name used to refer to the "palatium", that is the palace erected here by the emperors. At the beginning of its history Rome was ruled by seven kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinus Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquin the Proud.

The age of the monarchy has left very few relics. Excavations on the Palatine Hill show evidence of the first oval wooden houses where used to live the early Romans. There were also cemeteries on the spurs of the Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline, which stretch like the fingers of a hand towards the Tiber, as well as on the low-lying ground beneath the Capitoline, where later the Roman Forum was to develop.
The distinction between the settlements of the living and the burial grounds of the dead, maintained throughout the ancient history of the city for all but the greatest, was thus established at a very early date.
To Servius Tullius is attributed the building of a great wall around the city (as yet unconfirmed by the archaeology), and it was the Etruscans who drained the site of the Forum. The first paving stones were laid around 625 BC over a huge deposit of made-up ground, and it rapidly developed into the religious, political and commercial centre of what was beginning to be a proper city-state.
Nearby was the Regia, the sanctuary of the Rex Sanctorum, who was responsible for the official sacrifices of the State; it was constructed on the site of the Temple of Vesta, where the sacred flame of the community had been housed. During the reign of the seven Kings was also realised a great public work, the Cloacae Massima, an advanced drainage system constructed to deviate the floods in the present Forum and to drain this marshy area.



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