Mendonca 1 Dalmo Mendonca Mr.

Jackson National History Day Project (Rough Draft) 14 December 2006 The Origins of The Roman Empire The Roman Empire was fourth and currently last in the order of a series of world empires. Its foundations were laid with the little village set upon seven hills in the Italian peninsula. It spread out as far as 2.3 million square miles at its height. Its collapse resulted, ironically, in a disperse division which is now know as the nations of Western Europe. Both tragedy and triumph are elements strongly present at the core of the history of this civilization. But one would inquire the correlation between these aspects and what made the Roman Empire so relatively successful and yet so tragically fateful. To understand the facts behind the history of this society, it is compulsory to understand its beginnings; its origins, its roots. Nonetheless, all the primary accounts of the birth of the Rome were lost, and those of people who lived in a near epoch are blends of history and pagan religion. For this reason it is very hard to convey a modern, consistently historical assimilation of what took place. However, following Livy’s works, it is possible to extract the meaningful content a historian would need to understand what was the Roman Republic. Livy, or TITVS LIVIVS, was a Latin historian who is now very renowned. Even though he was born in around 59 B.C. and Rome was founded in 753 B.C., his works are the earliest and most coherent yet found on the topic. His crowning literary account was Ab Vrbe Condita, which means “From the Founding of the City.”

Medonca 2 According to Ab Vrbe Condita, Rome’s roots date back to the Trojan War. Livy tells us that Aeneas, the Trojan King’s nephew, was a war hero. However, as Troy lost the war to Greece, Aeneas was fortunate enough to lead his men to what is now Italy. Arriving at the city of Laurentum, whose king was Lativium, Aeneas married the princess, Lavinia. Knowing that the very ancestry of Rome was Trojan, it is easy to understand the resentment Romans felt for the Greeks. Since Greece was previously the world empire, this played a major role in how triumphing Rome would be to defeat and replace the Greek. As generations passed, Aeneas’ kingdom, now called Alba Longa, had expanded in size. When King Procas, king of Aeneas’ line’s twelfth generation, died, the throne was left to his eldest son, Numitor. Numitor had a brother, Amulius, and a daughter, Rea Silvia. Amulius, who was now very rich, overthrew his brother, Numitor, and declared himself king. Afraid of being overthrown by Numitor’s line, Amulius declared his niece, Rea, a Vestal virgin, a position that prohibited her to have sexual intercourse. This is an example of a sadly constant situation in the history of this culture. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans had difficulty with family matters since its beginnings. The tragic scene of family problems that end up in betrayal and slaughtering is repeated over and over in Roman history. Rea Silvia did cohabitate with someone, nonetheless. According to the legend, Mars, the god of war, fell in deep passion for her, so, one night, he came by her chamber and raped her. She became gravid and bore a set of twins, whom she called Romulus and Remus. Amulius was furious, since he saw that these two children could one day take his power away from him. Thus he punished Rea Silvia by burying her alive and ordered his servants to

Mendonca 3 banish the twins from the city and leave them to die in the wilderness. The servants felt too guilty to kill the boys, so they placed the boys in a cradle and left it by the banks of the Tiber River. The twins were supposedly found by a she-wolf who nursed them. Many translators now agree that by “she-wolf,” Livy meant a prostitute, but the symbol of the animal was kept as a sign of honor and respect. By keeping the symbol of a she-wolf instead of the one of a prostitute as the nurturer of the founders of Rome, the Romans show how important patriotism is to their culture. Certainly, this aspect was also a point that collaborated to Rome’s enormous triumph. These boys discovered their true identities as they grew up. They understood the story of their family and sought revenge. They eventually killed their great-uncle, Amulius, and restored Numitor his rightful position as the king of Alba Longa. Subsequent to restoring their family’s honor, Romulus and Remus, now considered heroes, set out to establish their own kingdom. They started a journey taking some men from their grandfather’s dominion. Their expedition was harsh, and they constantly argued about vital decisions to be made. Despite the fact that they were twins, Romulus and Remus were exceptionally different. To settle their differences, they agreed to test their abilities as priests. They would meditate and whoever saw a sign of Mars would be the leader. Remus saw six vultures, one of Mars’ sacred creatures. Nonetheless, Romulus saw twelve of them. Through this passage we can again see the hardships in dealing with family issues and yet another element: the one of competition. The Romans were a very competitive people. Never, through Rome’s history, has anyone refused a challenge or forfeit a fight without being

Mendonca 4 criticized, ridiculed and even harmed. Even though this helped them conquer other people, it often caused distress among their own citizens. Even though Romulus’ decisions would prevail now, Remus would still ridicule his work. Romulus, enraged, slew his own brother and his follower, Faustulus. Being so, Romulus built the city, named it Rome (arguably, after him) and declared himself king. Just understanding the very foundations of the Roman culture, society, and civilization in general, can show us important aspects that gradually developed to shape what the Roman Empire went through. Each the victorious battle, each father slain by his own son, and each civil war: they were all based upon the basis laid by the first Romans.

Mendonca 5 Works Cited Primary Sources LIVIVS, TITVS. Livy's Ab Urbe condita. Books I-XXX. New York: Penguin Classics, 1976. Plutarchus, Mestrius. Selected essays from Plutarch's Moralia. New York: Penguin Classics, 1992. Plutarchus, Mestrius. Lives Romulus. 02 November 2006 <> Secondary Sources “Acca Larentia”. 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. 06 December 2006 <> “Aeneas 1-0029”. New Student's Reference Work, The. 1-0029. 06 December 2006. <> “Aeneas 1-0030”. New Student's Reference Work, The. 1-0030. 06 December 2006. <> Frazer, James. The Golden Bough “Chapter 13: The Kings of Rome and Alba” 02 November 2006 <> Machiavelli, Niccolo. Discourses on Livy. Books I-X. 12 October 2006 <> Momsen, Theodor. History of Rome. 28 October 2006 <> Ravaglioli, Armando. Breve storia di Roma. Chicago Press: Chicago University Press, 1999.

Mendonca 6 “Rome 4-0139”. New Student's Reference Work, The. 4-0139. 06 December 2006 <> “Romulus 4-0137”. New Student's Reference Work, The. 4-0137. 06 December 2006 <> “Rom”. “Karte der antiken Innenstadt von Rom”. Nordisk familjebok. Den Fjättrade Ankan, 23. 1904. Roman Republic, Birth of. 21 November 2006 <> Wilde, Oscar. Rome Unvisited. 17 October 2006 <>

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