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A 63-Year Memory of the Legend of Romulus and Remus

MekelleŠć°25 May 2024 (Tigray Herald)

A 63-Year Memory of the Legend of Romulus and Remus

By Teshome Berhanu Kemal

Some 63 years ago, a book entitled “The March of Time” was a legendary history textbook for fifth or sixth graders in Ethiopia. Among the stories in the book, the story of “Romulus and Remus” is one. I first read this legend in 1961 when I was in the third grade, in Sekota, Northern Wollo, now Amhara Region.

As I remember it from 1961 and as it is still narrated today, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, brothers born in 753 BC. According to the story, prophets predicted that these children would take the throne if they grew up, so the king at the time ordered them to be killed. Accordingly, they were put in a basket and thrown into the Tiber River, where it was thought they would perish. However, a fig tree near the river, particularly near Romunalis, caught the basket and drifted it to the shore. A she-wolf found them and saved them from death by nursing them. She kept them with her until a shepherd discovered and raised them.

The shepherd and his wife raised Romulus and Remus as their own children. The boys grew strong and powerful, eventually gathering their own forces and killing the king who had ordered their deaths, seizing his territory. As time passed, they decided to build their palace near the Tiber River, where they had been abandoned. However, they could not agree on where to build it, so they each started building their own.

Romulus established his home in what is now Rome, on one of the seven hills along the Tiber, specifically known as Palatine Hill. He invited Remus to see his home, which was surrounded by a large wall. Remus, envious, remarked, “You’ve built the house well, but the wall won’t protect you against the enemy.”

Romulus, angered, replied, “Now, what kind of person jumps over this fence?” Remus responded, “That’s easy for me. If you want, I’ll show you how to jump over it. And you will show me how you will protect yourself.”

They agreed to this challenge. Finally, as Remus was jumping over the wall, he asked Romulus, “What would you do if someone jumped like this?” In response, Romulus raised his spear and threw it at Remus, who was in mid-air, saying, “I would stop him like this.” Remus died.

Romulus then reigned alone and founded the city of Rome. He strengthened his power, and the city grew. The town was named after him.

A bronze statue of Romulus and the she-wolf that nursed him can be found in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. The bronze statue of the she-wolf is believed to date from the early years of the Roman Republic (6th to early 5th century). Here, 63 years after reading the story, I narrate it once more. I found the cover of the book on the internet. The image of the wolf is ubiquitous because it is a symbol of Rome and is believed to be a symbol of compassion.

Dear readers,

I had the opportunity to visit Rome in 1981 and 2014. The first visit was when I was a children’s program producer and presenter of Ethiopian Television Service. At that time, I was invited by Professor Vittorio Fiocca, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa, to attend the International Day of Pinocchio in Collodi. The second visit was in 2014; I shall write about the reason in the future. I have already written extensive reports about both visits. With God’s will, I shall publish them. Until then, I wish you all the best.

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