The Legend of Rome's Founding Father
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According to legend, Romulus was born to a Vestal Virgin and left for dead as an infant near the Tiber River. His life nearly ended as quickly as it began, but fate had other plans. A humble shepherd rescued the child and helped raise him into manhood. As Romulus grew older, he fearlessly engaged in a series of perilous adventures that ultimately culminated in Rome’s founding, and he became its fabled first king.
Establishing a new city had its price, and Romulus was forced to defend the nascent community. As he tirelessly safeguarded Rome, Romulus proved that he was a competent leader and talented general. Yet, he also harboured a dark side, which reared its head in many ways and tainted his legacy, but despite all of his misdeeds, redemption and subsequent triumphs were usually within his grasp. Indeed, he is an example of how greatness is sometimes born of disgrace.
Regardless of his foreboding flaws, Rome allegedly existed because of him and became massively successful. As the centuries passed, the Romans never forgot their celebrated founder.
This is the story that many ancient Romans believed.
Written by historian Marc Hyden, Romulus recounts the history of the almost mythical founder of not only the Roman people but also, the city of his name, Rome. Most modern scholars tend to throw the stories and legends surrounding Romulus into the realm of mythology. Not the ancient Romans. To them, he was more than a legend. He not only established the city of Rome (ca. April 21st in the 8th century BCE), he also gave it its governing bodies, religious structure and so much more.Petros Koutoupis, Digging up the Past
The author, Marc Hyden, showcases a unique and wonderful talent, in that, he knows how to tell a story. I really enjoyed this book and despite the often contradictory sources, I really enjoyed how Hyden framed the entire story of the mythological founder of Rome into a single cohesive narrative.
This is not your typical research novel. It recounts a tale of epic proportions. However, the accounts written of its main protagonist do not stem from a single source. From Cicero to Pliny, Plutarch, Vergil and many more, Hyden relies on the ancient authors themselves to get as close to the source of the events as possible. And when there is doubt or a need to confirm any aspects to the narrative, the author provides the archaeological evidence.
Our story begins with Aeneas and his fleeing from the burning citadel of Troy. It was a place in which he once called home. He, his son, father and a band of Trojan refugees embark on an exodus West of the Anatolian mainland and through a series of trials and tribulations eventually lands on the Western regions of the Italian mainland.
Generations pass and we get to the events of when Alba Longa’s ruler Numitor was dethroned by the usurper and his brother, Amulius. Numitor’s sons were mysteriously executed and his daughter was sentenced to be a vestal virgin. It is there that she was impregnated (by the god Mars) and gave birth to the twins, Romulus and Remus. Upon discovery of this, Amulius sentences the young infants to death. However, they escape this fate and live a simple life as shepherds until they discover that Numitor is their grandfather, where they aid him in reclaiming the throne.
The very detailed events that follow focus on the twins and as soon as Remus is killed, on Romulus alone. The reader may take notice that many of his trials reflect that of his forefather, Aeneas.
Again, I immensely enjoyed reading Romulus and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either Roman history or general Greco-Roman mythology.
“By being critical of the available evidence, Hyden rather effectively sorts among the “fact, fiction, or somewhat in between” of Rome’s founder to give us an interesting, entertaining, and often thought provoking look at Rome’s origins, suggesting ways to interpret similar myths from other cultures. Valuable for those interested in Roman history or myths and legends.”The Nymas Review, May-June 2022
If you want a book that gathers all we know about Romulus into one place and makes it easy to read, this is the book for you. Indeed, it is a welcome addition to my library.Beating Tsundoku
I immensely enjoyed reading Romulus and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either Roman history or general Greco-Roman mythology.Ancient Origins
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As inherently fascinating a read as it is an impressive work of meticulous scholarship, historian Marc Hyden's "Romulus: The Legend of Rome's Founding Father" is a truly extraordinary, expressly informative, and highly recommended.Midwest Book Review
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This is a splendid book and very informative. The author, Marc Hyden has done his research and presented different narratives to recreate this interesting time period of which we see the first legendary King of Rome elevated to power, which the Romans believed in. If you are passionate about the Romans and classics then this book is a must have edition for your library! Its really is an inspiring read!Roman History Blog, November 2020
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Hyden leans into a tone reminiscent of a bard regaling those around a campfire with stories of a hero’s great exploits.Booklist
21st April 0753 BC
21 April 753 BC is Rome’s widely accepted founding date.