Today In History: Romulus Became Rome’s First King (753 BC)

Romulus marking the city's boundaries with a plow. Public Domain

On this day, Romulus became Rome’s first King in 753 BC. Romulus was the son of Aeneas and Latinus, the founder of the kingdom of Latium. The legend of Romulus is a combination of myths and facts. He and his twin brother, Remus, were left by a riverside near Palatine Hill after their mother was taken prisoner. They siblings were supposed to be tossed into the river, but servants took pity on them and disobeyed orders.

A she-wolf discovered the abandoned twins, and suckled and sheltered them in a cave until they were found by a shepherd. The shepherd and his wife raised them until manhood. Everything went well until the boy’s true identity was revealed. They took revenge and returned to the hillside where they were raised to erect a new city. A fight broke out, and Romulus killed his brother Remus (or so goes one version of the story).

Death of Romulus. Public Domain

Romulus continued with the plan to establish a city. To do this was no small feat. After marking out the city’s borders, he needed to fill the inner circle with people. Romulus picked 100 men from the best families, and he formed a government, levied taxes, and even made class distinctions — servants, free men, fugitives seeking protection, prisoners of war were known as “plebs.” Anyone outside that class were called, “patricians.” Romulus reigned as king of his city for 37 years before mysteriously disappearing during a tumultuous storm.

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