Posted on: 2007-11-20 13:48:53
Archaeologists in Italy are claiming to have located the site that the Romans claimed was the cave where the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus, was suckled by a she-wolf, along with his twin, Remus.
The cave, eight meters high, is decorated with mosaics, shells and pumice and was the temple of the Lupercale, sacred to the Roman national religion. The Romans believed it to be the actual site where the semi-divine pair were sheltered. The cave was uncovered by archaeologists investigating the ruins of the Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill.
Romulus and Remus were fathered by the God Mars on a priestess, Rhea Silvia, who was slain by a jealous relative, and the twins abandoned to exposure, the ancient method for disposal of unwanted children. According to legend, a she-wolf protected the pair. Romulus grew up to slay Remus and found Rome, becoming its first King. The wolf symbolism probably had something to do with tribal totemic symbolism popular in early religion as practised in the Latium, the section of southern Italy which developed into the civilization of Rome.
Whether the story has a basis in historical fact or merely expresses a foundation myth with elements (divine twins, feuding brothers, etc.) popular in the Mediterranean mind, the new find of the Lupercale cave should shed new light on Roman religion. The Lupercale may have been connected to the celebration of the Lupercalia festival, which dates back to pre-Roman days. We celebrate it today as St. Valentine's Day.