Rhea Silvia was a vestal virgin who, it is alleged, was raped by Mars, the God of War. This act resulted in the birth of twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. The twins, born of noble blood – Rhea’s grandfather was ruler at the time – were to be drowned in the Tiber river by order of Rhea’s uncle to prevent potential future challenges to the throne by the twins.
However, the twins survived through a series of unlikely but fortuitous events. First, a she-wolf found the boys and let them suckle her; then a woodpecker fed them; and finally the shepherd Faustulus and his wife found them and raised the twins as their own.
The boys, having survived against all odds, were both natural leaders as well as rivals. In deciding to found a city, the twins disagreed upon its location, each favoring neighboring hills. They determined to allow fortune to dictate the location of the city. Remus first saw six vultures and interpreted it to mean fortune favored him. Romulus later saw 12 vultures and argued that fortune favored him. Ultimately Remus was killed by Romulus in an act of violence. The mythical leader Romulus prevailed and founded his city, naming it Rome after himself.
An example of a Roman leader prevailing against the odds in the tradition of the creation myth is in the story of a humble Roman dictator, Lucius Quincticus Cincinnatus.
Minucius, a ...
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...ecognition of his achievement in defeating Rome’s enemy in Northern Africa, Scipio was granted the title Scipio Africanus and was forever a Roman hero.
Yet again, Rome’s troops were led by an inspired leader. Again, as in the creation myth and against the odds, Scipio prevailed, as did Rome.
Rome’s improbable, inspiring creation myth and the story of Romulus and Remus, their tragedy and the ultimate triumph of Romulus in establishing Rome, inspired Romans for generations to overcome adversity and their personal tragedies to achieve their own triumphs. Against the odds, the creation myth has inspired Rome’s leaders to fight for Rome against all odds, prevailing for themselves, their countrymen, and ultimately for Rome itself.
(Livy, p.34), (Livy, p. 35), (Livy, p. 37), (Livy, p. 226-227), (Livy, p. 228-229), (Stillman, p.17-18), (Stillman, p.20-21)
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