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Helene A. Guerber

Romulus Builds Rome

R EMUS and Romulus, the twins who had been nursed by the she-wolf, grew up among the shepherds. They were tall and strong, and so brave that all their companions were ready to follow them anywhere. One day, when they were watching their flocks on the hillside, their pasture was claimed by the shepherds who were working for Numitor.

The young men were angry at this, and as the shepherds would not go away, they began to fight. As they were only two against many, they were soon made prisoners, and were led before Numitor.

Their strong resemblance to the royal family roused the old man's suspicions. He began to question them, and soon the young men found out who they were. Then they called together a few of their bravest companions, and entered the city of Alba, where Amulius dwelt. The unjust king, taken by surprise, was easily killed; and the brothers made haste to place their grandfather, Numitor, again on the throne.

Remus and Romulus were too restless and fond of adventure to enjoy the quiet life at Alba, so they soon left their grandfather's court to found a kingdom of their own. They had decided that they would settle in the northern part of Latium, on the banks of the Tiber, in a place where seven hills rose above the surrounding plain. Here the two brothers said that they would build their future city.

Before beginning, however, they thought it would be well to give the city a name. Each wanted the honor of naming it, and each wanted to rule over it when it was built. As they were twins, neither was willing to give up to the other, and as they were both hot-tempered and obstinate, they soon began to quarrel.

Their companions then suggested that they should stand on separate hills the next day, and let the gods decide the question by a sign from the heavens. Remus, watching the sky carefully, suddenly cried that he saw six vultures. A moment later Romulus exclaimed that he could see twelve; so the naming of the city was awarded to him, and he said that it should be called Rome.

The next thing was to draw a furrow all around the hill chosen as the most favorable site. The name of this hill was the Palatine. Romulus, therefore, harnessed a bullock and a heifer together, and began to plow the place where the wall of the town was to be built. Remus, disappointed in his hopes of claiming the city, began to taunt his brother, and, in a fit of anger, Romulus killed him.

Although this was a horrible crime, Romulus felt no remorse, and went on building his capital. All the hot-headed and discontented men of the neighboring kingdoms soon joined him; and the new city, which was founded seven hundred and fifty-three years before Christ, thus became the home of lawless men.

The city of Rome was at first composed of a series of mud huts, and, as Romulus had been brought up among shepherds, he was quite satisfied with a palace thatched with rushes. As the number of his subjects increased, however, the town grew larger and richer, and before long it became a prosperous city, covering two hills instead of one. On the second hill the Romans built a fortress, or citadel, which was perched on top of great rocks, and was the safest place in case of an attack by an enemy.

This is the city of which you are going to read the story. You will learn in these pages how it grew in wealth and power until it finally became the most important place in the world, and won for itself the name of the Eternal City.