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Anonymous, Origo Gentis Romanae: The Origin of the Roman People (2004). English Translation

Anonymous: On the Origin of the Roman People

The origin of the Roman people from the founders Janus and Saturn, through the rulers succeeding each other,1 to the tenth consulate of Constantius, digested from the authors: Verrius Flaccus, Antias (that's how this Verrius preferred to call [him], rather than 'Antia'), then from the Pontifical Annals,2 then Cincius, Egnatius, Veratius, Fabius Pictor, Licinius Macro, Varro, Caesar, Tubero, and from all the old histories;3 then those writing about recent times, that is Livy and Victor Afer.

I. [1] Saturn is thought to have come first into Italy; so also the Virgilian muse testifies in these verses:

First from the Olympian aether came Saturn,
Fleeing the weapons of Jupiter, etc.

[2] So much simplicity of the men of old had been handed down to that time, that when foreigners came to them, who indeed they were able with their counsel and wisdom to instruct them in how to live and form their customs, these not knowing their parents and origin, they not only believed them born from Sky and Earth, indeed also they so informed their descendants concerning this Saturn, whom they said was the son of Sky and Earth. [3] In spite of this tradition, it is however certain that Janus was the first to come to Italy by whom the later arrival of Saturn was accommodated. [4] From this it should be understood that Vergil, not from ignorance of ancient history but because he was accustomed to call Saturn first, not because there was none before him but because he was in first place, said:

Who first from the shores of Troy,

[5] There is no doubt that Antenor came to Italy before Aeneas, not on the coast near the shore, but in the interior, i.e. Illyria, and founded the city of Patavium, as the same Vergil mentioned above in these verses in the person of Venus complaining to Jove about the trials of her Aeneas:

Having escaped from the midst of the Achaeans, Antenor was able
To penetrate the Illyrian bay and the entire inland, etc.

[6] However why he added 'entire' in this place we have fully explained in the commentary, which we began to write here, to be found in the book which is inscribed On the Origin of Patavium. [7] And so now first has the same signification, as that which is also [found] in book II of the Aeneid concerning the enumeration of those who climbed down from the wooden horse. [8] For he had named Thessander, Sthenelus, Ulysses, Acamas, Thoas and Neoptolemus, then he adds, and first Machaon. [9] From which it can be asked: in what way is it possible to call [him] first, after so many, who have been named above? Truly we understand first to mean in first place, precisely because it has been handed down that at that time he was foremost in the practise of the art of medicine.

II. [1] But to return to our subject, they say that Creusa, most beautiful daughter of Erechtheus4 king of Athens, was raped by Apollo, and giving birth to a boy sent him to Delphi to be educated. She however was married off by her father, who was ignorant of these things, to a certain companion named Xuthus.

[2] Later, because he5 could not become a father, he went to Delphi to ask advice from the oracle, how he could be a father. Then the god answered him that he should adopt the one who came on his way the next day.

[3] And so the above mentioned boy, who was born of Apollo, was on his way and he adopted him.

[4] When he came of age, not satisfied with the kingdom of his father, he landed with a great fleet in Italy where he occupied a mountain; there he built a city and after his own name he called it Ianiculus.

III. [1] So while Janus reigned over the rough and uncultivated inhabitants, Saturn was chased from his kingdom. When he came to Italy he was welcomed with warm hospitality, and there, not far at all from the Janiculum, he founded a stronghold called after him the Saturnia.

[2] He first taught agriculture; these wild men, who were used to live from what they caught, he brought to a settled life, according to what Virgil said in his eighth book:

This place was inhabited by local Fauns and Nymphs
And a kind of man born from the trunks of hard oaks
Who had neither law nor religion, and could not yoke the bull
Or gather wealth or save parts
But fed on roots and raw meat of wild animals.

[3] After turning away from Janus, who had taught them nothing but the rites of gods and religion, they wished instead to tie themselves to Saturn, who had turned their minds, still wild in life and habits, to the common goal, like we said above, by teaching them the art of working the field, as is told in these verses:

This ignorant and dispersed people of high mountains
he united and gave laws, and he chose to call [them] Latium. 6

[4] These then he taught the habit of marking coins and money7 by showing them how to hit them with a stamp; on one side was printed his head, on the other the ship which had brought him there. 8

[5] That is why even today gamblers, with a coin put down and hidden, announce to their fellow gambler the choice, which one could be underneath: head or ship; which now the common people say corruptly 'navia'.

[6] Also the house beneath the Capitoline street, where he had hidden his money, is even today called the treasury of Saturn.

[7] Indeed, as we have said before, Ianus arrived before him; and when after their death it was decided that they be augmented to the godly honours, in all sacrifices they offer the first place to Janus, then him, so that eventually, when the other gods get their sacrifice, after the gift of frankincense on the altars, Janus is first named9, with the added name of Father, according to what our [poet] said:

This fortress was founded by Father Janus, and that one by Saturnus.

And later: 

This one was called Janiculum10, that one Saturnia.

[8] About this, that farseeing [Virgil] who had a miraculous memory of passed events, and also of the future, [---] said 11:

The king Latinus, an old man, ruled over countryside and cities that had been in quiet peace for a long time during whose reign, it is told, the Trojans arrived in Italy; it is to be wondered why Sallustius said: "and with them [came] the Aborigines, a savage race of men, without laws, without empire, free and unbound"?

IV. [1] Some however record that when the lands were covered everywhere by the flood, many people from various regions settled in the mountains to which they had fled; of these, some travelled to Italy seeking a home, and they were called Aborigines. This is of course a Greek name, taken from the heights of mountains which are called ore in Greek. [2] Others prefer the theory that they wandered on their way there and were first called Ab-err-igines, and that after one letter was changed and another removed the name became Aborigines. [3] When they arrived Picus welcomed them and gave them permission to live however they wished. [4] After Picus, Faunus reigned in Italy, who is thought to have his name from fari, "to prophesy", because he was wont to foretell the future in song, in the meter which we call "Saturnians": this type of meter was first handed down in Saturnian prophecy. [5]  Ennius attests to this matter, when he says,

in verses which once Fauns and prophets sang 12

[6] Most have said that this Faunus was the same as Silvanus (from "forests", silvae), but some identify him with the god Inuus, some even with Pana or Pan.

V. [1] So during the reign of Faunus, which was about sixty years before Aeneas landed in Italy, Evander Arcas, who was the son of Mercury and the Nymph Carmenta,13 arrived along with his mother. [2] Some have recorded for history that she was first called Nicostrate and later Garmenta, from "songs" (carmina), and that this was of course because she was extremely skilled in all letters and wise concerning the future, and was accustomed to singing about these things in songs, to such an extent that most prefer to think that it is not so much that she was named Carmenta from the songs she sang, but rather that the songs were named after her. [3] By her advice Evander crossed over to Italy, and because of her unique erudition and knowledge of letters they enveigled their way in a short time into a close friendship with Faunus. Evander was welcomed by him hospitably and kindly and was given a territory of land to cultivate, and no small one. He allocated this land to his comrades and built homes on the hill which was at that time called Pallanteum by him, from Pallas; we now call it the Palatine. There he dedicated a shrine to the god Pan, since he was a god local to Arcadia, as Virgil also attests when he says

Pan, god of Arcadia deceived you and caught you, Moon 14

and similarly:

Even Pan, if he should compete with me with Arcadia as the judge,
even Pan with Arcadia as judge would admit ...

[4] And so Evander was the first of all to teach the Italians to read and write with an alphabet which was partly what he had himself learnt previously. The same man also showed them the agricultural products first developed in Greece and the practice of sowing, and was the first in Italy to teach people to yoke oxen for the purpose of cultivating the earth.

VI. [1] While this vigorous one was reigning, a certain Recaranus16, of Greek origin, a herdsman of an enormous Body and of great strengths, who was surpassing other ones by stature and courage, called Hercules16, came to the same place.

[2] While his herd were grazing around the river Albula, Cacus, a slave of Evander, a planner of bad things and above all of thievery, stole cows of the guest Recaranus and, so that there was no trace, pulled them backwards into a cave.

[3] When Recaranus had scoured and examined all the hideouts in the neighbouring regions,17 he eventually despaired of finding them and bore the loss with an even mind, and decided to leave these regions.

[4] But when Evander, a man of excelling justice, discovered how things had gone, had the slave punished and made him return the cows.

[5] Recaranus then dedicated an altar for Father Inventor beneath the Aventine and called it the Great [Altar], and on it offered one tenth of his herd.

[6] It had been the habit before, that men gave up one tenth of their productions to the king; but he said it seemed to him that he had better give that same part to the gods than to kings. Therefrom then is clearly derived the habit of consecrating the tenth to Hercules, according to what Plautus says in 'In the part of Hercules', meaning the tenth.

[7] After consecrating the Great altar and offering on it his tenth, Recaranus ordained, because Carmentis was invited but not present at that sacrifice, that no woman was allowed to eat from that what was sacrificed on that altar: and from these holy things women are completely removed. 

VII. [1] This is what Cassius 18 says in Book One. But on the other hand in the books of the Pontifical College it is said that Hercules, son of Juppiter and Alcmena, after besting Geryon, and driving off his famous herd, wanting to introduce this breed of cattle in Greece, by chance came to that place and was pleased at the lush forage, with the result that after their long trip his men were able to get some relaxation for themselves and the cattle, and settled there for a long time. [2] And while the cattle were grazing in a glade where the Circus Maximus is now, with no one watching because no one believed that anyone would dare go after Hercules' prize, a certain thief from that area, surpassing everyone else in physical size and in strength, took away eight cattle into a cave, by their tails so that it would be less easy to track the theft by footprints. [3] And when Hercules struck camp and happened to drive the remaining cattle past that same cave, by some chance the cattle penned up there lowed to those passing by and so the theft was detected; [4]  and after Cacus was killed Evander, apprised of the deed, went out to meet his guest and thank him, because his kingdom had been freed of such an evil; and when he found out who Hercules' parents were, he passed along the facts to Faunus, just as they had happened. Then he too wanted Hercules' friendship. Which idea our Vergil was afraid to follow.

VIII. [1] So when Recaranus or Hercules had dedicated a massive altar to the Finding Father, he recruited two men from Italy, Potitius and Pinarius, whom he could teach to manage the same rites in a fixed ceremony. [2] But of these men, Potitius, because he had come earlier, was allowed to eat up the entrails, while Pinarius and his descendants, for the very reason that he had come later, were debarred. Hence this is observed nowadays too: Nobody of the family of the Pinarii is permitted to eat at these rites. [3]  Some maintain that they were first called by another name, and that it was really afterwards that they were designated Pinarii ---- from "peina"19 ---- because, clearly, they go away from sacrifices of this sort unfed and for this reason hungry. [4] And that custom continued up until Appius Claudius the censor, with the people performing the Potitiian rites also eating from the ox which they had sacrificed, and from the point when they had left nothing remaining the Pinarii were then admitted.

[5] In truth, afterwards, Appius Claudius enticed the Potitii with money they received to instruct public slaves in the management of the rites of Hercules and furthermore to admit women as well. [6] They say that within thirty days from this being done the whole family of the Potitii, which had earlier been responsible for the rites, died out, and that the rites therefore came into the hands of the Pinarii, and that they, instructed by their reverence as much as their feelings of duty, faithfully preserved the mysteries of this sort.

IX. [1] After Faunus, his son Latinus reigned in Italy. At this time, Ilium20 was betrayed to the Achaians by Antenor and the other commanders. Aeneas departed in the night, placing his household gods and his father Anchises ahead of himself by carrying them on his own shoulders, and even pulling his little son along by the hand. At sunrise he was recognised by his enemies, the more because he was so heavily laden with a burden that told of his dutifulness. Not only was he not obstructed by anyone, but he even sought permission from king Agamemnon to go where he wished, to Ida. And there he built ships and on the advice of an oracle made for Italy, along with many people of both sexes, as Alexander of Ephesus tells us in book one of the Marsian War.

[2] But in fact Lutatius records that not only Antenor, but also Aeneas himself was a traitor to his homeland.21

[3] When Aeneas was permitted by king Agamemnon to go where he wanted, and to carry with him on his shoulders what he thought was most important, some say that he took nothing but the household gods and his father and two young sons; but according to others, he took with him only one, whose surname was Iulus, and who later became Ascanius. [4] The commanders of the Achaeans were so moved by this sense of duty that they sent him back to return home and bring with him from there everything that he wanted. And so it was that he left Troy with wealth and with numerous companions of both sexes. He travelled a great distance by sea throughout the shores of various lands and arrived in Italy. The first place he landed was Thrace, where he founded Aenus, naming it after himself. [5] Then the treachery of Polymestor was discovered from the murder of Polydorus, and he left there and travelled to the island of Delos, and there he took Lavinia, daughter of Anius the priest of Apollo, as his wife. The "Lavinian shores" were named after her.

[6] Afterwards, he travelled many seas and was driven to a promontory of Italy, which is in the Baian area around Lake Avernus, and there he buried his helmsman Misenus, who had been consumed by a disease. From his name comes the name of the city Misenon,22 as Caesar himself writes in the first book of the [Libri] Pontificales;23 he reports that this Misenus was not the helmsman, but a trumpet-player. [7] Virgil rightly followed both interpretations when he wrote this:

But dutiful Aeneas piled up a tomb of huge size
with the man's own gear: an oar, and a trumpet 24

[8] -- though some, using Homer as an authority, assert that the use of the trumpet was unknown even then in Trojan times.

X. [1] Some further add that Aeneas carried to burial the sickly mother of a certain companion Euxinus last summer on that shore near the marsh, which is between Misenon and Avernum, and also the place got its name from that; and that when he found out in the same place that one of the Sibylls prophesied the future to mortals in the town, which is called Cimbarion, he came there informed of the state of his fortunes and forbidden after the oracles were consulted, so he would not bury his relative Prochyta, connected to him by blood, whom he left safe and sound.

[2] And after he went back to the fleet and discovered that her dead body was buried on the next island, which now is also of the same name, as Vulcatius and Acilius Piso write.

[3] Then he left and arrived at the place now called the gates of Caieta from the name of his wet-nurse, whom he buried there after she passed away.

[4] But certainly Caesar and Sempronius said that the cognomen, not the nomen, of Caieta was clearly named after him, because with his advice and urging the Trojan mothers set fire to the long ships of the fleet in disgust, clearly from the Greek apo tou kaiein, which is "to burn."

[5] Then, he reached the border of Italy when Latinus was reigning, which is called Laureus from the orchard of the same kind, he exited the ship with his father Anchises, son, and others, and sat for a meal on the shore; After he devoured what food there was, he finished off the crust of the measures of spelt, which he had with him for sacrifice.

XI. [1] Then Anchises concluded that it was the end of their miseries and wanderings, because he remembered what Venus had once foretold him: on a foreign coast, driven by hunger, he would come upon sacred meals, and that place would be where he would found the destined settlement.

[2] When they brought the undisturbed sow from the ship to be sacrificed, it tore itself from the hands of the priests. Aeneas then remembered that he was once told that a fourfoot would lead him to found a city.

[3] With the images of the household gods he pursued it, and where [the animal] laid down and gave birth to thirty piglets, there he looked for signs ...25 afterwards it was called Lavinium, like Ceasar writes in the first book and Lutatius in the second book.

XII. [1] But in fact, Domitius says that that it was not circles of wheat, as was said above, but celery26 (of which there was a great abundance in the area), used in place of tables for the purpose of taking up food, that was spread out underneath; they ate this itself when the other edible things had been consumed, and they understood immediately afterwards that it was those tables that it had been foretold they would eat. [2]  When meanwhile the sow had been sprinkled with meal and they were finishing the sacrifice on the shore, it is reported that the Argive fleet which Ulysses was on turned towards them; and although he was afraid that he would be recognised by the enemy and be placed in danger, and he was also thinking that interrupting holy business was a terrible evil, he covered his head with a veil and completed the rites with the full ceremony. So from then that manner of sacrificing was handed down, as Marcus Octavius writes in his first book.

[3] But in fact, Domitius in his first book teaches that Aeneas was advised by an oracle of Delphian Apollo to make for Italy and to found a city at the place where he came upon two seas and ate a lunch including his tables. [4] And so he went out into the Laurentine region, and when he had advanced a little from the shore, he arrived at two pools of salty water next to each other. He washed himself there and restored himself with food, and also consumed the celery which had then been spread out underneath in place of a table, Then, judging without doubt that those were the two seas, because in those lakes was the likeness of sea-water, and that he had eaten his tables, which were made out of a spread of celery, he founded a city in that place, and called it Lavinium because he had washed [laverit] in the pool. Then five hundred iugera 27 were given to him by King Latinus of the Aborigines for him to live in.

[5] But Cato in The Origin of the Roman People teaches as follows: the sow gave birth to thirty piglets in that place where Lavinium is now, and when Aeneas decided to found a city there and was disheartened because of the infertility of the soil, the images of the divine Penates appeared to him in his sleep encouraging him to persevere in founding the city that he had begun; for after as many years as there had been offspring of the sow, the Trojans would migrate to a fertile place and more productive soil, and would found the city with the most famous name in Italy.

XIII. [1] And so it was that when Latinus, the king of the Aborigines, found out that a multitude of foreigners had arrived in a fleet and invaded the Laurentine region, without delay he led out his forces against his enemies and so took them off their guard. Before giving the signal to attack, he noticed that the Trojans were drawn up in military fashion, while his own men were not only armed with rocks and clubs, but also for their armour they were dressed in cloth or hides, which they held wrapped around them in their left hand as they marched.

[2] Then the battle was deferred while Latinus sought a parley, trying to find out who they were and what they had come looking for. The reason is that he was compelled to this course by divine authority; for he had been advised by consultations of entrails and by dreams that he would be safer against his enemies if he allied his army with foreigners. [3]  And when he found out that Aeneas and Anchises, driven from their homeland by war, had come wandering with images of their gods looking for a home, he entered into friendship with them under a mutual treaty that provided that they would have the same enemies and the same friends.

[4] And so the Trojans began to fortify a location which Aeneas named Lavinium, after the name of his wife, the daughter of king Latinus, who had previously been betrothed to Turnus Herdonius.

[5] But king Latinus' wife, Amata, was offended that her cousin Turnus should be repudiated and that Lavinia should be handed over to a Trojan stranger. So she incited Turnus to take arms; he soon gathered an army of Rutuli and invaded the Laurentine region. Against him Latinus marched, side by side with Aeneas; amidst the fighting he was surrounded and killed. [6] But Aeneas did not stop standing against the Rutuli, even though his father-in-law had been lost, and he actually killed Turnus. [7] The enemies were scattered and put to flight. As the victor, Aeneas withdrew with his men to Lavinium and by the unanimous consent of the Latins he was proclaimed king, as Lutatius writes in his third book. 28  [8] Indeed Piso records that Turnus was Amata's cousin on his mother's side, and that when Latinus was killed Turnus actually committed suicide.29

XIV. [1] And so once Turnus was killed Aeneas gained power over the state. Still, mindful of his wrath, he decided to continue harrassing the Rutuli in war. They begged and obtained the aid of Mezentius, king of the Agillaei, from Etruria, promising that if victory were the outcome for them, they would cede all the possessions of the Latins to Mezentius. [2] Then Aeneas, because he had weaker forces, gathered many things into the city which needed protection and established a camp close to Lavinium. He placed his son Euryleo in command of these matters. Aeneas himself, at the time chosen for battle, led forth his troops to take up formation in the area around a pool of standing water in the river Numicus.30 A very fierce battle began there. But the sky was darkened with sudden whirlwinds, and so much rain poured down, followed by thunder and fiery lightning flashes, that not only were everyone's eyes dazzled but also their very minds were bewildered. And even though there was a universal desire on both sides to interrupt the fighting, nonetheless Aeneas was taken away in the confusion of the sudden storm and was afterwards nowhere to be seen.

[3] There is a story, however, that he was close to the river and was unexpectedly pushed by chance and fell into the water; and that this is how the battle was interrupted; and later, it is believed, the clouds opened up and were scattered, his face shone serenely, and, still living, he was taken up into heaven. [4] And it is asserted that the same man was seen later on by Ascanius and certain others on the bank of the Numicus, with the clothes and gear that Aeneas wore into battle. This event confirmed the story of his becoming an immortal. And so a temple was consecrated to him in that place and he chose to be called "Father Indiges".31 [5] Then his son Ascanius (the same person as Euryleo) was declared by the judgment of all the Latins to be king.

XV. [1] And so Ascanius came to the highest position of authority over the Latins. As Ascanius had decided to pursue Mezentius with continuous warfare, Mezentius' son Lausus invaded the hill of the Lavinian citadel. He managed to hold that town, since all the king's troops had been scattered around, and so the Latins sent envoys to Mezentius to find out his terms for accepting their surrender. [2]  Amongst other onerous requirements, Mezentius included the condition that all wine from the Latin region should be tributed to him for a certain number of years; and so on Ascanius' advice and authority it was decided that they would rather die than undergo that kind of servitude. [3]  Therefore the Latins publicly dedicated the wine from every vintage to Jupiter and consecrated the city; then they broke out, scattered the garrison, killed Lausus, and put Mezentius to flight. [4]  Afterwards he sent envoys and secured friendship and an alliance with the Latins, as Lucius Caesar tells us in his first book, and also Aulus Postumius in the volume which he wrote and published about the arrival of Aeneas. [5]  And so the Latins believed that Ascanius, because of his famous valour and virtue, was not only descended from Jupiter but also by abbreviating and modifying his name a little they called him first Iolus, then later Iulus; and from him the Julian family descended, as Caesar writes in his second book, and Cato in the Origines.

XVI. [1] Meanwhile Lavinia had been left pregnant by Aeneas. Driven by the fear that Ascanius would hunt her down, she fled into the woods to Tyrrhus, the master of her ancestral herd, and there she gave birth to a boy who was named for the geography of the location: Silvius.

[2] But the common people amongst the Latins imagined that she had been secretly assassinated by Ascanius. They had inflamed great hostility against him to such an extent that they were threatening him with force of arms. [3] Then Ascanius tried to exculpate himself by an oath, but found that that didn't do him any good with them; so he sought time for a search, and broke a little of the mob's impending wrath by promising that he would greatly enrich with huge rewards whoever found Lavinia for him. Soon he had her recovered and led her back with her son into the city of Lavinium, and he loved her with all the honour due a mother. [4] This affair once again procured great favour for him amongst the people, as Gaius Caesar and Sextus Gellius write in the Origin of the Roman People.

[5] But others tell the story that when Ascanius was compelled by the whole population to restore Lavinia, and to swear that he had not done away with her and did not know where she was, Tyrrhus, who was in that crowded assembly, asked for silence and he offered proof, as long as a promise was given that no harm would be done to him, Lavinia, or the son that had been born to her. Then, when he had accepted this promise, he led Lavinia back to the city with her son.

XVII. [1] After this, when thirty years had passed in Lavinium, Ascanius recalled that the time had arrived for the founding of a new city, because of the number of piglets that the white sow gave birth to. Having carefully looked around at the neighbouring regions, he surveyed a high mountain which is today known as Albanus, from the city that was founded on it. He built a city and named it Longa for its shape, which was stretched out at length, and Alba, "White", from the colour of the sow.

[2] And when he had transferred the figures of his household gods there, the next day the appeared back in Lavinium; and though they were again taken to Alba and guards posted (but I do not know how many), they took themselves back to Lavinium and their original location again and again. [3] And so no one dared to move them a third time, as is written in the fourth book of the Annals of the Priests, book two of Cincius and Caesar, and book one of Tubero.

[4] After Ascanius had departed from life, there arose contention over the succession of power between his son, Iulus, and Silvius Postumus, who was born of Lavinia, as it was debated whether Aeneas' son or nephew was more suitable. The matter went to arbitration and Silvius was declared king unanimously. [5] The same man's descendants, all with the surname of Silvius, ruled at Alba until the founding of Rome, as is written in the fourth book of the Annals of the Priests. [6] Thus while Latinus Silvius was in power colonies were established at Praeneste, Tibur, Gabii, Tusculum, Cora, Pometia, Labici, Crustumium, Cameria, Bovillae, and other towns all around.32

XVIII. [1] After him Tiberius Sivius, the son of Silvius, reigned. Who, when he had led out his troops against his neighbors who were waging war, amid those battling, was driven into the river Albula and perished, and the reason for the name change appeared, as write Lucius Cincius in his first book, Lutatius in his third book.

[2] After him, Aremulus Silvius reigned, who is recounted as having had so much arrogance not only toward people, but even toward the Gods, that he proclaimed that he was greater than Jove himself, and when the sky was filled with thunder, he commanded his soldiers to beat their shields with their spears and kept saying that they would make a louder noise.

[3] He, nonetheless,was presented with an immediate punishment: for, stricken by lightening and snatched up by a storm, he was cast headlong into Lake Albana, as was written in Piso's fourth book of Annals and second of Letters.

[4] However Aufidius in his Epitomes and Domitius, in his first book, [report that he was] not killed by a thunderbolt, but that after an earthquake his palace collapsed into lake Albana along with himself.

[5] After him reigned Aventinus Silvius, who was attacked by his neighbours, and surrounded by enemies, was killed and buried at the roots of the mountains, which take their name from him, as Lucius Caesar wrote in his second book.

XIX. [1] After this Silvius Procas, king of Alba, divided his inheritance in equal portions between the two sons, Numitor and Amulius. [2] Then Amulius in one portion placed merely kingship, and in the other he placed the total of all his inheritance and the whole substance of his father's wealth. To Numitor, who was older, he gave the choice of picking whichever one of these he preferred. [3] When Numitor had chosen private leisure and property rather than kingship, Amulius obtained the kingship. [4] In order to hold this securely, he saw to it that the son of his brother Numitor was done away with while hunting. Then he even ordered Rhea Silvia, that man's sister, to become a priest of Vesta, pretending to have had a dream in which he had been urged by said goddess that this should happen. The truth was that he considered it necessary to do it for his own sake, thinking it would be dangerous if someone were born to her who might avenge the injustices against his grandfather, as Valerius Antias writes in his first book.

[5] But in fact Marcus Octavius and Licinius Macer report that Amulius, the uncle of the priestess Rhea, was seized by love for her. Under a cloudy sky and in a dark mist, when it had first begun to dawn, as she fetched water for rites, he lay in ambush for her in the grove of Mars and raped her;33 then, when the months had passed, twins were born. [6]  When he discovered this, in order to conceal the deed which he had conceived though his wickedness, he ordered that the priestess be killed, and that the offspring be presented to him. [7] And then Numitor, in hope for the future, because if they grew up these twins might one day be the avengers of the injustices against him, substituted others for them and gave them, his real nephews, to Faustulus the master of his shepherds to be brought up.

XX. [1] 34 On the other hand, Fabius Pictor35 in his first book and Vennonius36 [write that], the virgin left, by custom and habit, seeking the water for use in the rites from the fountain there, which was in Mars' grove. Suddenly those who were with her scattered because of the rain and thunder, and she was raped and disturbed by Mars, [but] soon she was restored by the consolation of the god, who revealed his name and assserted that the children born to her would be worthy of their father. [2] Consequently, as soon as King Amulius learned that the priestess Rhea Silvia had given birth to twins, he immediately ordered that they be brought down to the swollen river to be cast off there. [3] Then those who had been ordered to do this, after they placed the boys in a basket around the base of the Palatine Hill into the Tiber (which, on account of the great rain, had been flooded), cast them off. The swineherd of the region, Faustulus, after he observed the exposers, saw, as the river receded, the basket in which the boys were, which had gotten caught on the trunk of a fig tree. [Faustulus saw] a she-wolf, excited by the boys' crying, [which] first cleaned them by licking, then she offered her teats for suckling [lit. for the sake of her breasts to be lightened(by suckling)]. [Faustulus] climbed down and carried [the twins] and gave them to his wife Acca Larentia for their care, as Ennius in his first book and Caesar in his second book write. [4] Certain [writers] say in addition that as Faustulus watched, a woodpecker also flew to [the twins] and with a full mouth regurgitated food for the boys; so evidently the wolf and the woodpecker are under the protection of Mars. Also, a tree around where the boys had been cast off, is called the Ruminal, because under its shade at midday the herd rested [and] it was their habit to ruminate.

XXI. [1] But in truth, Valerius handed over the children born of Rhea Silva to king Amulius, who gave them to his servant Faustulus to kill them. But the children weren't killed by him (F.) but - after pleading by Numitor - given to his (girl)friend Acca Laurentia to nurture, a woman who was known as a whore37 because she was accustomed to sell her body for money.

[2] Note that - since women who sell their body are thusly called (lupa) - the places where they do so are called lupanaria (brothels).

[3] When the boys had become strong enough for an honourable training,38 they learned Greek and Latin thanks to a stay in Gabii, secretly sustained by their grandfather Numitor.

[4] Immediately when they became adult, when he learned from his master Faustulus who his grandfather and mother were, and what had become of them, Romulus went straight with an army of sheperds to Alba and after killing Amulius restored his grandfather Numitor to the reign.

He was called Romulus because of his great force; because it is certain that in the Greek language roomein means force. The other one was called Remus bevause of his slowness, because men of such nature are since long called remores.39

XXII. [1] Therefore, with the events and sacred business (of which we spoke above) done in that place, which is now called Lupercal40 they ran about in great numbers without care [dressed?] in skins of sacrificed beasts beating themselves. And so there was a solemn sacrifice to them after that, separately Remus [and] Romulus sanctified and named them Fabii [and] Quintilii [respectively]; both of whose name remains in the rites even now.

[2] But in the second Pontifical book it is said that some [men] were sent by Amulius, who should grab the shepherd Remus; because they did not dare to take him with force, they laid in ambush to fall on him when the time was better for them. When Romulus went away they pretended to play a kind of game, to see which one of them, with his hands bound behind his back, could carry the stone that was used to divide the wool,41 clenched between his teeth.

[3] Remus, confident of his force, promised he would carry it to the Aventine hill; the next moment he was bound with stretched hands, and dragged to Alba.

When Romulus heard this, he gathered the a gang of sheperds and divided them in groups of a hundred men; he gave them staffs with bundles of foeni42 of various size attached to the tip, so that by that sign they could more easily see who was their leader and follow him. Thus they were formed as the later army, who had the same signs, called manipulares.

[4] And so having overthrown43 Amulius and freed from prison his brother, he restored the kingdom to his grandfather.

XXIII. [1] Therefore Romulus and Remus worked together to found the city, in which they would reign equally, and Romulus designated a place which seemed suitable to him on the Palatine Mount, and wanted to call it Rome, while Remus did the same on the other hand on another hill five miles from the Palatine, and likewise called it Remuria from his own name. As the quarrel between them was incapable of solution, they referred it to arbitration by their ancestor Numitor. 

To satisfy the arbiter, they turned the dispute over to the immortal gods. Thus, whichever of them first met with favourable omens would found the city, would call it by his name, and reign with supreme power.

[2] And so they took omens, Romulus on the Palantine, Remus on the Aventine. Remus saw one first, six vultures flying together from his left, and then he sent to Romulus, announcing that he had be given an omen commanding him to found the city, and so he made haste to come.

[3] At that time he came up to Romulus and demanded, "What then of these omens?", and told him of them omen of the six vultures appearing together: "I, on the other hand," said Romulus, "will show you twelve!", and suddently twelve vultures appeared in the sky, followed by thunder and lightning.

[4] Then Romulus said: "What do you say, Remus, do you stand by your earlier sign, now you have seen this one?" Remus then realised that he had been cheated out of power. "Many hopes," he said, "many presumptions will be rashly progressed in this city and most successfully."

[5] But in truth, Licinius Macer's first book shows how the dangerous struggle ended in death. For at that very place Remus and Faustulus opposed (Romulus) and were killed.

[6] Against this, Egnatius in his first book says that Remus was not killed, but lived longer than Romulus.

Comments and discussion

1. sibimet: 'sibi' plus the suffix -met (compare egomet) - Steven 

2. ex annalibus pontificum: "from the annals of the pontifices" - that would have pontifex in the plural genitive, pontificorum; here, it's used as an adjective.  

3.  ex omni priscorum historia: "from every account of ancient times" or "of ancient writers"

4.  Note on spelling of names: Erechtheus, Xuthus - Petrushka / Corrected, thanks! - Steven  

5.  It is not clear from the Latin if the person going to Delphi is Erectheus or Xutho. The French translation suggests it is Erectheus, and this seems the most logical. - Steven

6.  Perhaps it ought to be 'Latins'? Latium agrees with genus which is collective singular... - DPD / Bude French renders it Latium also - Roger  

7.  Actually aeris = small coin, moneta = larger coin - Steven 

8. There is a marked difference here with the French translation, which reads more or less "Saturn taught them to work with bronze and put the money on a coin: on one side the head of Janus, on the other side the ship that had brought him to this land." Apart from the bronze, which might be a different interpretation of aeris and could be correct, I can't see why it should be Janus' head on Saturn's coins. - Steven / Bude French translation has same reference to Janus, but Latin is the same. Strange - Roger / Perhaps because eius is used instead of suum? - though I think eius can be just as well understood as still referring to Saturn - Petrushka / Good point, Petrushka. I am guessing that this detail is based on the actual existance in author's time of these coins, otherwise it would be pointless to describe them: people probably had seen these coins. Perhaps some of them survived to our own day, so we can see for ourself if it's Janus of Saturn depicted? - Steven / A Google search turns out many coins with a Janus head. A similar search for coins with Saturn's head also results in a few pictures, each sporting a racing chariot on the other side. I'll insert a few pictures to cheer up this large textual discussion (these are just for illustration! Both images depict different coins, without further dating, context or other information)

In an online catalog I found some coins with on one side Janus and on the other side the prow of a ship. So these, at least, existed. And they're not cheap! [Update 2020: email from Alan Scarsella, that here is another:

9.  'detuleruat' should be corrected to 'detulerat' in the Latin original; this isn't a very good translation, should be looked at by somebody else - Steven / Latin in Bude has 'detulerunt' -- Roger / ditto in the Teubner -- Petrushka / corrected the translation to accord with 'detulerunt' - Steven  

10.  I think the hill is named in the neuter, not the masculine... - DPD / Latin is correct as given in Bude  

11. Bude is longer than Tuebner: 8 Eique, eo quod erat mire praeteritorum memor, tum etiam futuri <prudens ...[blank in mss]... > dixerit: - Roger / Changed the translation a bit to reflect this; it now better fits with the French translation, but I'm still not sure if it's the correct meaning: 'eo' can't be a relative of 'prudens' -- Steven

12.  Fragment number for this? Latin Library edition of Ennius doesn't have fragment numbers. / Ennius' "Annals" are generally referred to by line rather than fragment number. This is 232 in Warmington, the Latin Library's source for numbers (= 207 Skutsch).

13.  a.k.a. Carmentis

14.  Georgic 3.392.

15.  Eclogue 4.58-59 [thanks, Roger]

16.  An older greek legendary hero; It is manifest that the native myths of Recaranus, or Sancus, or Dius Fidius, were transferred to the Hellenic Hercules.

17. [I couldn't find a meaning to eiuscemodi -- Steven]

18. Dio Cassius?

19.  [Gk., "hunger"] 

20.  Ilium = Troy.

21.  Lutatius = author of a history known as Communis Historia or Communes Historiae, which contained at least four books. (Probably not the same person as Q. Lutatius Catulus, who died under Marius' proscriptions in the early 1st century BC, though he is also known to have written various works.)

22.  Apparently the writer prefers to use the Greek version of the name of the city of Misenum; similarly in 10.1 below. Latin Misenun should read Misenon I suspect it should read Misenum. Misenum is close to Nea Polis, but do we know that there was a Greek name for it? --EWW I thought so at first too, but actually the Teubner has Misenon, with no alternative readings in the app. crit. - and cf. 10.1 below - Petrushka Interesting tidbit, and it is the lectio difficilior --EWW. Yes, I'll have to dig out a PHI disk and check for other occurrences in Latin! - Petrushka

23.  Anyone got any idea who this Caesar is? I haven't been able to locate any other references to any Caesar as author of books on priesthood; possibly the Lucius Caesar mentioned in 15.4; but then 16.4 mentions a Gaius Caesar as a co-author of another origo gentis Romanae (one editor corrects that to Lucius Caesar). 17.3 has a Caesar as author of some annales pontificum which is presumably the same book as this one. Yaagh! - Petrushka.

24.  Aeneid 6.232-3.

25. The French text supplies [... and sacrificed the sow and founded a city ...] -- Nothing in the Bude text, tho, so must be a conjectural thing. The mark indicates a lacuna between post and quam -- Roger

26.  I'm not certain what plant is meant by apium. "Parsley" is a possible alternative to "celery". -- Edward.

27.  Between 300 and 350 modern acres. -- Edward.

28.  For Lutatius, see note on 9.2.

29.  Piso = L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, consul 133 BC and author of a history, the Annals, which recounted Rome's history up to his own time and which influenced Livy as well as this text. Piso is thought by some to have been one of the first Roman authors, if not the first, to give rationalist interpretations of the early legends of Roman history.

30.  Numici fluminis stagnum: might this refer to the sacred spring of Juturna near Numicus?

31.  The meaning of Indiges is uncertain.

32.  Praeneste = modern Palestrina, Tibur = Tivoli, Gabii = Castiglione, Tusculum no longer exists, Cora = Cori, Pometia no longer exists, Labici = Monte Compatri, Crustumium = Monte Rotondo, Cameria (no longer exists??), Bovillae = Frattocchie. According to other legends some of these towns were founded in other circumstances; e.g. Tusculum was often thought to have been founded by Odysseus' son Telegonos, Praeneste by Caeculus.

33.  I don't know why petenti is dative or ablative. My translation would seem to require petentem in agreement with eam, and may be incorrect.
--Latin is correct here, so... anyone any ideas? Roger. Sorry, petenti is the object of insidiatum, not of compressisse. Translation modified accordingly. - Edward

34.  For clarity and to avoid a larger amount of translationese, I've added words in brackets to round off rough transitions and to shorten sentences. I'd also like to thank Brian W. Breed for helpful suggestions.

35.  Q. Fabius Pictor (fl. late 3rd c. BC): A senator, magistrate, and author of a history covering the foundation of Rome to the end of the Second Punic war. See G.B. Conte, Latin Literature: A History, pp. 68-69. Baltimore, 1994.

36.  Vennonius (fl. 1st c. BC?): An annalist. Nothing else known about him. See Conte, p. 122.

37. The first suggestion, "the wolf" is incorrect; "whore" is the meaning. Lupa, lupae means also "female wolf" (Plinius uses the term), but "whore" seems to be the correct meaning here (see Plautius). So the translation would be:  ' But the children weren't killed by him but -after pleading by Numitor - given to his (girl)friend Acca Laurentia to nurture them like a wife, although she was known as a whore since she was accustomed to sell her body for money'. mulier means woman, but also wife (Cicero) I think in that context "wife" would be the correct translation. -- Michael Kuettner

Thanks! I've changed lupa to whore, but I think that the "quam mulier" part is not 'like a wife' but is a pseudorelative: eam mulier (...) lupam dictam. I translated it like that, but am always open for correction. -- Steven

It's my English, I'm afraid. I've meant to say : He gave them to her, as if she was his (a) wife, although she was a whore.
Wife in the meaning of honorable woman. Cheers, Michael Kuettner

Lupa, lupae - whore (Plautus).
Lupanar, lupanaris - brothel (Quintilianus) Lupanarium, lupanarii - brothel (Quint.) Lupanarius, lupanarii - pimp (the master of the brothel) (Lampridius).
So the sentence should read : [2] Note that - since women who sell their body are thusly called (lupa) - the places where they do so are called lupanaria. -- Michael Kuettner

Thanks, I changed the paragraph accordingly. -- Steven

38. capaces facti essent must be one of the most inelegant Latin phrases I ever heard. In fact this entire paragraph sounds as if the author was in dire need of a good night's rest. Or perhaps it's just me who needs a rest :-) -- Steven

39.  remores not found in the dictionary. -- Steven

Remores, remorum were originally some special kinds of birds. When seen by the pontifex or augurs when they were in the middle of a sacrifice, the sacrifice had to be postponed. Thusly "remores" means obstructive people - people who hinder the course of things. --- Michael Kuettner

40.  A grotto sacred to Pan - [square brackets] extra words in English 

41.  pensitari was not in my dictionary, but "pensum, pensi" is given as "quantity of wool given to be spun or woven" in the Words software by William Whitaker. -- Steven 

42.  I couldn't find a meaning for foeni other than "interest on capital" -- Steven.

My suggestion: foeni comes from "fenum", which means hay. The combination "feni manipulus" is well known from other texts. Another text with foenum instead of fenum is Isidor, Orig. 18, 3, 5, but this is based on the text above.  foe... instead of fe... could be found in old latin texts. -- Kai Töpfer

43.  I changed "killed" to "overthrown", because oppresso doesn't include assassination I think - unless anyone corrects me again :-) -- Steven

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This translation was produced by an online collaborative experiment using the Tuebner text as a basis. The result is placed in the public domain. 
All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.  Translators included: Petrushka, Steven, Edward, Stephen C. Carlson, 
Daniel Abosso, Michael Kuettner, Paul Murray, Klaus, DPD, EWW, Roger Pearse, and doubtless others unknown -- thank you all.  Edited by 
Roger Pearse.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts