October 2013

* Romulus and Remus

"Even Jupiter himself cannot be in love and wise at the same time."


Acca Larentia is a Roman Goddess who is most famous for being the foster-mother of the mythical twins Romulus and Remus. She is an Earth Goddess and protectress, and the divine ancestress of Rome, associated with wolves, the Underworld, and the fertility of the earth and fields.

In a late but widely-known legend, Acca Larentia is the wife of Faustulus, a shepherd to the King of the time, who found the abandoned infants Romulus and Remus being miraculously nursed by a she-wolf. They were really sons of the God Mars, who had come to their mother, the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia in the form of a wolf. Faustulus took them home to his wife, who then acted as their wet-nurse. Acca Larentia and Faustulus had had twelve sons; since one of them had died, Romulus took his place. These twelve brothers under the supervision of their mother sacrificed annually in the fields (the arvae) to bring fertility to the crops, and were said to be the foundation of the twelve-man brotherhood of the Arval priests.

Sometimes Romulus and Remus are said to have been nursed by the Wolf-Goddess Lupa or Luperca, who was identified with Acca Larentia. In this version Luperca's husband is the Wolf-and Shepherd-God Lupercus who brought fertility to the flocks, and through His rapport with the wolves, kept them from harming the sheep. The Lupercalia was the festival of Lupercus, and was concerned with fertility and purification of both the flocks and the City of Rome. Wolves and sheep come up a lot in these legends concerning and glorifying the origins of Rome--for the city was believed to have been founded by a clan of shepherds who settled on the Palatine Hill, and Romulus and Remus were shepherd-kings.

In another tale, Acca Larentia is a notorious and beautiful prostitute who was shut up in the temple of Hercules overnight. There She dreamed that Hercules came to Her, and promised a gift from the first man She met the next morning. Accordingly, the next day She met a wealthy man who fell in love with Her and married Her, leaving his great fortune to Her at his death. At Her own death, She bequeathed the fortune to the city of Rome. In a variation of the same tale, Acca Larentia gains the wealth not through marriage but through Her own career as a prostitute in which She is known as Lupa, or "She-wolf", ancient slang for a prostitute. In either case, the people of Rome were so grateful to Her that they instituted a festival on December 23rd, called the Larentalia, where sacrifices were made at a site in the Velabrum (the low-lying little valley between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills) by the Flamin Quirinalis, the Priest of Quirinus, aka Romulus, as His foster-mother. This spot was said to be either the location of Her tomb, or the spot where She disappeared when She ascended as a Goddess.




"Our ancestors were savages. The story of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a wolf is not a meaningless fable. The founders of every state which has risen to eminence have drawn their nourishment and vigor from a similar wild source. It was because the children of the Empire were not suckled by the wolf that they were conquered and displaced by the children of the northern forests who were."

"Here lies a man who was killed by lightning; He died when his prospects seemed to be brightening. He might have cut a flash in this world of trouble, But the flash cut him, and he lies in the stubble."

"The story of Romulus, his twin brother Remus, and the founding of the city of Rome is one of the most familiar legends about the Eternal City. The basic legend about how Romulus came to be the first king of Rome begins with the god Mars impregnating a Vestal Virgin named Rhea Silvia, daughter of the rightful, but deposed king."

"Romulus disappeard one day in a thunder storm. He appeared in a vision to Julius Proculus who told him that he had ascended to the gods and was to be worshipped as Quirinus."

"As Wolf-Goddess She watched over the shepherds and their kings and brought fertility to the flocks; as Mother of the Dead She also has connections to prophecy. As the fertile Earth She brings abundance and bounty to the fields, and in the reference making Her a courtesan one sees a hint of a Goddess of Springtime and Love; for Acca Larentia was also honored on the last day of April, a day that fell within the springtime festival of the Floralia, a wild joyous celebration where prostitutes were especially honored."


"If it had not been for storytelling, the black family would not have survived. It was the responsibility of the Uncle Remus types to transfer philosophies, attitudes, values, and advice, by way of storytelling using creatures in the woods as symbols."

"Rome has betrayed itself. It knew the truth and chose violence, it knew humaneness and it chose tyranny."

"A world is in flames, and you are cracking silly jokes."

"I was continuing to shrink. To become, what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being, or was I the man of the future?.. . So close, the infinitesimal and the infinite, but suddenly I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet, like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's, and I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation--it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest--I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist. Even athletes need to sleep."

"Oftentimes winning can become an addiction, whether good or bad, to the point where you would rather lose it all before you lose at all."
(Criss Jami)