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The Conclusion of Romulus
Excerpt from the upcoming episode
Chris: So with a large labor force and two companies of rough men as their protection, Romulus and Remus embarked on their last adventure together which would seal the fate of one of them, while the other would go on to build Roman society which would endure for millennia.
Chris: Upon arriving at the banks of the Tiber and presumably close to where their birthing trough was enshrined, Romulus and Remus both presented competing locations for where their new city would be built.
Chris: Romulus chose a spot called Roma Quadrata, or the square Rome, while Remus laid out a more defensible spot on the Aventine Mount, which Remus named Remonium and Rignarium in Plutarch’s time.
Chris: So being extraordinarily Stubborn apparently was the name of the game, with both brothers not budging from their choice for the new city. So, as was custom in these times, it weas decided that the contest would be determined by a divination from a flight of birds, divination being “to be inspired by a god,” is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.” Thank you Wikipedia.
Chris: So divination as I understand Plutarch to mean is whomever peered the most vultures during the divination ritual, would of course win the day and their plot of land for Rome would be chosen. Pretty cool eh Ryan? Next time we must edit the podcast, lets give this a whirl to see whose turn it is! Ha hahahah
Chris: It was reported that Remus saw six vultures and that his accounting was unembellished, while Romulus claimed to see twice the amount of Remus and declared himself winner and immediately began digging foundations.
Chris: However, Remus had suspicioned that Romulus had feigned his account of vultures and in fact he had won the day. This of course put Remus on a collision course with history, for which his history would forever be truncated. Before we move on to the anticipated confrontation between the two, I wanted to back up a bit and provide some context to this whole divination from a flight of birds for a moment.
Chris: These sort of animal rituals were not uncommon in Ancient Rome and Greece, however the fascination the Romans had with birds is quite interesting and the reasons this ritual used vultures is equally as interesting for to the Romans, the vulture as accounted by Herodotus Ponticus, mentioned that Hercules was always happy when a vulture appeared to him upon any action. The reasoning behind the vultures popularity with Romans stems from their characteristics of being different from other birds in the sense, they are the least hurtful of any bird, as they only feed on carcasses and nothing living, nor do they engage in cannibalistic behavior of any kind, whether it be a dead vulture or an alive vulture. Romans admired this survival strategy of sustainability and discipline, so seeing the most vultures could have been a sort of moral sign that the Gods approve of the person, almost a purity of the being.
Chris: So to lie about the site of vultures while seems silly to us today, for the ancient Romans, it was a sign of divinity and to be taken very seriously.
Chris: Likely Remus was less upset about the lie for this particular reason and likely was incensed he had been so easily tricked out of his city placement…
Check out the full episode February 3, 2021! Hope you enjoy!