Please note that I have given here some references to Wikipedia: because of the way the articles on this site are edited, students should exercise due caution when using them.
Alexander the Great
Sources for Alexander:
Curtius Rufus: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/curtius/home.html
Diodorus Siculus: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Diodorus_Siculus/home.html
Unit A032: The Rise of Rome
Option 1: The origins of Rome: The Kings, 753-508 BC
Context: Geography of Rome and the indigenous peoples of Latium
1.1 Geography of Rome
Map of ancient Italy
The site of Rome was on the river Tiber and the Mediterranean Sea, which was excellent for foreign trade, was only a few miles down the river. The hills of Rome overlooked a shallow bit of the river which was the easiest place to cross the Tiber as it came to the sea. The location was half way between the north and south of Italy so it could develop good communication links as Italy itself is in the centre of the Mediterranean and has easy access to the rest of Europe, to Africa, and to the east.
The location was easily defended as there were the high mountains called the Alps to the north and the sea to the south. The settlement was easy to defend as it was on top of the hills with the marshy land in between and later the people could drain the marshy areas and use them to grow crops. Due to past volcanic activity, the land in the area was fertile with rich soil for growing olives, figs and vines. The Alps provided some mountain water and the river valleys provided summer pasture for animals. The climate was good for crops with the wet winters and hot sunny summers so as long as you irrigated the land in summer and this was done with water from the river Tiber.
Map showing the seven hills of Rome:
Map showing the peoples of Italy in about 500BC:
Draw or print out some maps of Italy and then annotate them to show why Rome was such a good place to settle. Make a key and colour code it or make up symbols.
1.2 The Peoples of Latium
The Latins were farmers and lived in huts in villages in the area that became Rome and in the hills of Alba. They kept herds of animals and grew crops. They lived in tribal groups on the hills defended by wooden palisades. They worshipped gods such as a sort of Jupiter, Diana and Venus. The Latins were very much influenced by the Etruscans and the Greeks when they arrived, but kept their own language. Rome grew up on the border between Latium and Etruria.
The Etruscans lived in Northern/Central Italy about 800-300 BC. They excavated metals from their land to trade with the Greeks and were heavily influenced by the Greeks and in turn they influenced the Romans. The Bronze She wolf was made by the Etruscans. The Etruscans ruled Rome at some time. The Etruscan alphabet is derived from Greek but is very different. The Etruscans built the Cloaca Maxima (main sewer) to drain the Forum (town square) in the centre of Rome. Etruscans made use of the arch in making buildings, something which the Romans got really good at e.g. the Colosseum:
The Lictors (king’s attendants) with fasces (bunches of rods with axes in, carried by lictors) were Etruscan as was the purple-bordered toga.
Greek City States
The Greeks set up city states in southern Italy and Sicily around 700BCE. The Greeks traded with the Etruscans. At about the same time as the first settlement on the Palatine Hill, the Greeks were establishing sea-ports round the south and west coasts, and in Sicily. The port farthest north, and one of the first to be built, was Cumae on the bay of Naples, which is not far from Rome. Through these ports Rome had access to the Greek world; from the Greeks at Cumae, the Latins learned the Greek alphabet, which they adapted for their own use and language. The interaction went both ways and the early Romans were known to the Greeks.
Research the peoples of Latium and make a fact-file of evidence on each group of people. Later this can be compared to the literary evidence.
Theme: Identity of the Romans; conflicting versions of the origins of Rome
2.1 The story of Aeneas according to Virgil and Livy
Aeneid Book 2: the connection with Troy
Aeneas lived in Troy with his wife Creusa and their son Ascanius. When the Greeks were destroying Troy, Hector (one of the Princes of Troy, who had been killed earlier in the war) appeared to Aeneas in a dream and told him to escape from Troy and take the holy headbands and fire of Vesta and start a new city. Aeneas was a hero and did not want to run away from the fighting like a coward so he continued to fight. Eventually his mother the goddess Venus came and told him to leave. She showed him that even the Gods were fighting against Troy so defending it was no use. Aeneas then had to persuade his old father Anchises to leave with him. At first the old man refused but was convinced when a magical flame appeared on the head of Aeneas’ baby son Ascanius. A roll of thunder and a shooting star were the final signs from heaven and Aeneas set off out of Troy with his father on his back carrying the holy symbols of Troy; he held Ascanius’ hand and his wife Creusa followed behind. Just when Aeneas thought he had escaped, he realised he had lost his wife on the way. He went back and looked everywhere for her but he could not find her. Eventually her ghost appeared to him and told him to go and start a new kingdom and get a new wife.
I sing of arms and the man who, made an exile by fate, first came from the borders of Troy to the shores of Lavinium. He who was thrown about greatly on both land and sea by the power of the gods, on account of the relentless anger of savage Juno. He also suffered much from war, before he founded his city and brought his gods to Latium; from whence came the Latin people, the Alban fathers, and the lofty walls of Rome.
Muse, call to my mind the causes of this: for what insult to her divine power, or angered by what action, did the Queen of the Gods drive a man famous for his piety to face such a great cycle of suffering and labour? How can there be such anger in heavenly hearts?
Aeneid Book 1
This is the opening of the Aeneid and the man Virgil is talking about is of course Aeneas. An exile is someone who has been sent away from their homeland. It is explained in Aeneid Book 2 how Aeneas escaped from Troy. Notice that here, Virgil points out that it was fate that made Aeneas into an exile so that Aeneas does not look bad – it wasn’t his fault because the gods were against Troy. Aeneas’ heroic image is kept intact.
Virgil mentions the ‘relentless anger of savage Juno’, but why was she so angry at Aeneas?
Well, it wasn’t just Aeneas but the whole Trojan race and all their descendants she was angry with – relentless and savage. There were three main reasons for this. These are mythological so the details may vary.
Reason 1: The Beauty Contest
On the day of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, they forgot to invite one goddess: Eris the goddess of arguments. Obviously she was not going to put up with this so she decided to cause some trouble. Taking a beautiful golden apple with the words ‘for the fairest’ written on it, she threw it into the wedding reception right in between the three goddesses who thought they were the best looking: Juno the queen of the gods, Venus the goddess of love and Minerva the goddess of wisdom. All three goddesses squabbled over the apple until Jupiter confiscated it. It would not have been fair for Jupiter to decide who to give the apple to as Juno was his wife and Minerva his daughter, so he decided to let a very handsome man decide. He gave the job to Paris who was a Trojan prince. Each goddess offered Paris a bribe to help him choose who was the best looking. Juno offered great power; Minerva offered wisdom and skill in war, and Venus offered the love of the world's most beautiful woman. Paris accepted Venus's bribe and gave the apple to her. The most beautiful woman in the world turned out to be Helen the wife of Menelaus and when Paris received the bribe it caused the Trojan War. Giving the apple to Venus also caused her to love him and the Trojans very much and Juno to hate him and anything to do with Troy.
Reason 2: Ganymede
This was another young Trojan man who made Juno angry. One day Jupiter noticed Ganymede and found him very handsome and charming. He turned himself into an eagle so that he could swoop down and kidnap Ganymede. Once he had Ganymede in Mount Olympus he was delighted with him and gave him the job as his personal wine waiter. All the gods and goddesses loved Ganymede except Juno who was very jealous of him and hated him and his entire race.
Reason 3: Carthage
This was Juno’s favourite city on earth and she loved Dido the queen of Carthage. There was a prophecy which foretold that the city founded by the descendants of the Trojans – the Romans, would eventually destroy Carthage. This was supposed to have come true when the Romans eventually defeated the Carthaginians in the Punic wars. So Juno hated the Trojans for what their descendants would do in the future.
He also suffered much from war, before he founded his city and brought his gods to Latium; from whence came the Latin people, the Alban fathers, and the lofty walls of Rome.
Here Virgil points out Rome’s warlike origins and describes the link from Aeneas (son of the Goddess Venus) through Alba to Rome’s foundation so that the Romans can claim to be descended from the Trojan race from the heroic past and also from the goddess. This gives the Romans a much more impressive ancestry than being descended from country folk from Italy who lived in villages.
According to Livy, because Aeneas had worked for peace and to have Helen returned, he was allowed to leave Troy unharmed. The fates were planning a greater destiny for Aeneas and he went to Macedonia, then Sicily, then Laurentum. On their travels, Aeneas and his men lost everything except their ships and their swords. While exploring the countryside in Laurentum, they were met by King Latinus and his army.
Livy tells us that there are two versions of what happened next:
There was a fight and Latinus lost and then agreed to give his daughter to Aeneas to marry.
The battle was about to start when Latinus asked to have a talk. He asked the Trojans about themselves and when he heard their story was so impressed that he made friends with Aeneas and gave him his daughter to marry so they had a family tie and a public agreement.
The Trojans had found a new home and began to build a town which Aeneas named Lavinium after his new wife Lavinia. Soon Aeneas and Lavinia had a baby boy who was called Ascanius.
Before Aeneas came along, Lavinia was engaged to Turnus the king of the Rutulians, when he found that he had been replaced, he started a war against the Trojans and the Latins. The Rutulians lost but Latinus was killed.
Turnus and the Rutulians then joined forces with the Etruscans whose king was called Mezentius. The Etruscans lived nearby and had felt threatened by the new town which Aeneas was building. The Etruscans were very powerful. To keep his army strong, Aeneas decided to call them all Latins which meant the Latins were just as loyal to him as those he had brought with him.
Even though the Rutulians with the Etruscans were a powerful enemy, Aeneas trusted the loyalty of the Latins and led his army onto the battlefield, instead of waiting for the Etruscans behind his walls. The Latins won the battle, but Aeneas was killed. His tomb is on the bank of the river Numicius. The people call him "The Local Jupiter."
His son, Ascanius, was not old enough to take over as king; but his throne was kept safe by Lavinia while he was a child. Livy acknowledges the fact that there are two different stories about Ascanius/Iulus, he says there is no point in discussing which is true as it was so long ago you could never decide. Some say that Ascanius was the son of Creusa and came from Troy others say that this was a baby born to Lavinia and he has the two names Ascanius and Iulus. The Julian Clan (family of Julius Caesar, the Emperor Augustus and their descendants) claimed to be descended from this Iulus. It would not be a good idea for Livy to prove either story wrong: the son of Creusa as a founder meant that the Romans could also claim descent from the Trajan royal family. If he says the Iulus story is wrong, he is disrespecting the emperor’s family. Whoever he is this son leaves his mother/stepmother in Lavinum and goes off to found his own city: Alba Longa. Nobody dared to attack the Latin cities as they were very prosperous and powerful. The river Albula, later named the Tiber, was fixed as the boundary between the Etruscans and the Latins.
2.2 The story of Romulus and Remus according to Virgil and Livy
He had placed there too the motherly wolf, lying stretched out in the green cave of Mars. The twin boys hung around her teats playing, and suckled from their ‘mother’ without fear. With her noble neck bending backwards, she caressed each of them and touched them with her tongue.
Virgil Aeneid Book 8
This picture appears on the shield of Aeneas. On the shield are represented lots of things the Romans are proud of. It is a very patriotic image. The fact that the wolf story is mentioned shows that the Romans were proud of their wild countryside image. Mars is mentioned recalling the Romans’ divine and very warlike ancestry. The Mars/wolf story fits perfectly with the image the Romans like to have as godlike dominators of the world with not too much softness.
Ascanius King of Alba Longa eventually died and his son Silvius took over; Silvius means ‘from the forest’ and he was supposed to have been born in the forest. The forest aspect once again brings in the wild countryside image of the Romans. His son was called Aeneas Silvius and his son was called Latinus Silvius. Latinus Silvius created some other settlements. All the following kings of Alba kept the name Silvius. Their names were Alba, Atys, Capys, Capetus and Tiberinus, who was drowned crossing the river Albula so the name of the river was changed to Tiber. Next came his son Agrippa and then Romulus Silvius. He was struck by lightning and his son Aventinus took over. There was a hill in Rome called the Aventine where the shrine of Aventinus was. Proca took over from him and had two sons, Numitor and Amulius.
Numitor was supposed to take over as king but Amulius forced his brother out and seized the crown. To make matters worse, he murdered his brother's sons and made his daughter, Rea Silvia, a Vestal virgin which was supposed to be an honour but meant she couldn’t have any children. Livy believes that the fates then intervened because Rome ‘the mightiest empire under heaven’ was destined to be founded.
Rhea Silvia the Vestal Virgin was raped and gave birth to twin boys. She said that Mars was their father, either because she really believed it, or because she would not look so bad if she blamed a god. She was thrown into prison, the boys were ordered to be thrown into the river. As luck would have it, the river Tiber was flooded so it was not possible to get near the main river. So the men with the job of drowning the children just left them near the side of the flood water. This was where the Ruminal fig-tree was, which was said to have been previously called the fig-tree of Romulus. This was a wild place then and the story goes that a she-wolf heard the children crying and treated them like cubs and let them drink her milk. Faustulus one of the king’s shepherds found the wolf licking the babies gently and he took the children to his hut and gave them to his wife Larentia to bring up. Some writers think that Larentia was a prostitute and had got the nickname of "She-wolf" from the shepherds, and that this was the real origin of the amazing story.
The boys were named Romulus and Remus. They grew up and were good shepherds but their favourite hobby was hunting in the woods. They were strong and brave and they didn’t just hunt animals, but they even attacked robbers carrying stolen goods. They shared what they took among their gang of shepherds. While the Lupercalia, a traditional festival was being celebrated on the Palatine Hill, the robbers attacked Romulus and Remus. Romulus defended himself violently, but Remus was captured and dragged before King Amulius to be charged with crimes. The robbers said that Remus and his gang had attacked in the lands of Numitor, and had stolen things so Remus was given to Numitor for punishment. Faustulus the shepherd had always hoped the twins were royal as he knew all along that two babies had been exposed by royal command at the time when he had found Romulus and Remus. He was afraid now so he told the story to Romulus. Numitor also suspected it and after questioning Remus he was pretty sure.
Romulus and his gang of shepherds made an attack on King Amulius and Remus helped out with another gang from the home of Numitor. So, King Amulius died and Numitor called an assembly, he told everyone his brother’s crimes against him, the story of his grandsons and everyone said he was the real king. Now that Numitor was King of Alba, Romulus and Remus decided to set up a city in the place where they had been left as babies and grown up. Unfortunately both brothers thought they should be in charge. Since they were twins and both the same age, they said the gods should decide. Romulus went up the Palatine Hill and Remus the Aventine Hill, where they both built temples from where they would look for omens.
The story goes that the first omen came to Remus in the form of six vultures. After this omen had been announced, twelve vultures came to Romulus. So the supporters of each man claimed their leader as King. Remus’ supporters claimed the kingdom because he got the omen first, while Romulus claimed the kingdom as a result of the larger number of birds. The argument turned into a fight in which Remus was killed. Livy says that there is another more common story which is that Remus was mocking Romulus and jumped over the walls that Romulus had been building. Romulus was furious and killed his brother shouting: “The same will happen to anyone else who jumps over my walls”. And so Romulus was the king, and when the city was built it was named after him.
Bronze she-wolf with (later addition of) twins from the Capitoline museum
2.3 The story of Evander and Hercules according to Livy
As one of his twelve tasks, Hercules had to take the cattle belonging to a monster called Geryon. After he had done this and killed Geryon, he drove the beautiful cattle to a place which was near the river Tiber. He stopped in a green field so that the cattle could eat the grass and he could rest. When he fell asleep, a giant shepherd called Cacus saw the beautiful cattle and wanted them for himself. But if he led the cattle into his cave, their hoof-prints would give away where they were. So he turned the best bulls round and dragged them by their tails to his cave. When Hercules woke up and realised that some of his cattle had gone. He looked in the nearest cave, but when he saw that all the prints lead away from there but went nowhere, he started to drive the rest of the herd away. As they were leaving, some of the cows lowed because they missed the others. The bulls in the cave lowed in reply and Hercules turned around. Cacus, tried to fight Hercules but he hit him with his club and Cacus died.
At that time a Greek called Evander ruled the place. People admired him because he could write, and because his mother Carmenta, was believed to be divine and could tell the future. Evander found out what Hercules had done and why. He saw that Hercules stood out and asked who he was. When he found out it was Hercules, Evander said that his mother had told him Hercules would come and the locals would make him one of their gods and set up an altar, which one day the most important people in the world (i.e. the Romans) would call “the Greatest”, and worship Hercules . So Hercules built the altar. One of the cows was offered as a sacrifice for Hercules. The Potitii and the Pinarii, who were the most important local families were put in charge and had to provide a feast. By chance, the Potitii were there at the start of the sacrifice so they got the entrails, (animals’ innards) and the Pinarii came after the entrails had been eaten and were given the rest. From then on the custom continued, as long as the Pinarii family did, that the entrails from the sacrifice were not given to them. The Potitii, who had been taught the ceremony by Evander, were the priests of the cult for a long time, until the entire Potitii family had died out and the sacred rites were handed over to public slaves to perform. This was the one foreign cult that Romulus adopted.
2.4 The story of the Sabines and their connection to Rome
Rome was powerful and had fought well against the neighbouring communities, but they did not have enough women so they wouldn’t be able to keep the population going.
The Romans couldn’t marry the women from the neighbouring communities because they had been fighting them. With advice from the senators who sent messages asking people from the towns a bit further away if they would like to make links by marrying their daughters to the Romans. None of them agreed because they saw the Romans as a big gang of outlaws.
Romulus hatched a cunning plan and invited the neighbours to celebrate a new festival for Neptune the god of horses (and the sea) and he called it the Consualia. All the neighbours came: the Caeinenses, the Crustimini, the Antemnates and all the Sabines with their wives and children.
After the signal was given, all the Roman men scattered and grabbed the unmarried girls who had come with the visitors. The families went away very sad. Romulus made the men marry the stolen women properly and treat them well to make up for the fact that they kidnapped them.
As a result of this the Caeninenses attacked the Roman lands. After defeating the Caeninenses tribe Romulus founded the first temple in Rome to offer the armour he had taken from the enemy leader to Jupiter who he called Jupiter Feretrius. Next the Antemnates attacked. The Roman army beat them and then took their town. According to Livy, at this point Romulus’ wife, who felt sorry for the women, persuaded Romulus to forgive their parents and let them become citizens of Rome. The Crustimini were also defeated by Rome.
This led to the expansion of Roman power, as Roman settlers went to Crustumeria and the territory that had been the Antemnates. Some of the people from these places also came to live in Rome.
Finally, the Sabines attacked the Roman citadel. According to Livy, they gained control of the citadel using a trick.
They made a cunning plan. Spurius Tarpeius was in charge of the Roman citadel. By chance Tarpeius’ virgin daughter went outside the walls to get water for the religious rituals and Tatius bribed her with gold so that she would let armed soldiers into the citadel. After they got in they killed her by crushing her with their weapons, either so that it looked like they forced their way into the citadel, or to set an example for the future so that no one would keep a promise to a traitor. There is another story, that the Sabine people wore heavy gold bracelets on their left arms, and lovely rings with jewels, so she asked them for the things they had on their left arms: but they heaped upon her their shields instead of the gold gifts she meant. Some people say that they had the weapons in their left hands to hand them over to make peace but they thought she was tricking them so they killed her with the payment she had chosen.
The Romans and the Sabines fought, but when one of the Roman leaders, Hostius Hostilius, was killed, the Romans started to run away. Romulus prayed for help to Jupiter and then told the men that Jupiter commanded them to stop running and fight. After this the battle continued, and according to Livy the Roman force was stronger and the Romans started to defeat the Sabines. However, at this point the battle was interrupted.
Then the abducted Sabine women, who the war was about, threw themselves between the flying spears with their hair flying and their clothes ripped. They were brave because their upset took away female fear. They ran across the battlefield and separated the clashing armies, stopping their conflict. Begging their fathers on one side and their husbands on the other, they said that fathers and sons-in-law should not have one another’s blood on them, that the curse of killing your father should not be passed down to their children, grandfathers onto grandsons and fathers onto children. “If you don’t like the ties between you, if you don’t like our marriages, then take your anger out on us! We are the cause of this war; we are the cause of fathers and husbands lying wounded and dead. It is better for us to die, since by losing one of you we’ll be widows or orphans”. This moved both the leaders and the crowd. Suddenly there was silence and stillness. Then the commanders came forward to make a treaty, not only to make peace but also to make one community out of two. They shared the power, and made Rome the capital. The joint populations were named the Quirites after the Sabine city of Cures to please the Sabines.
The abducted women ended the war with the Sabines which meant that neither side had to look weak by losing. Romulus made peace with Titus Tatius the king of the Sabines. They shared the power, and made Rome the capital. The joint populations were named the Quirites after the Sabine city of Cures to please the Sabines.
Romulus divided the population into thirty groups and he named them Curiae after the women because they had made peace. Also three groups of one hundred Knights were recruited: the Ramnenses, named after Romulus, the Titienses, named after Titus Tatius, and the Luceres (the origin of their name is not certain). From then on there was joint rule and peace between the two Kings.
Remember, foundation myths are not necessarily true. This does not make them any less important as they still say a lot about the people who accept them as their heritage.