Who Was Romulus And Remus In Ancient Rome

A Mythical Heritage

The story of the ancient city of Rome perhaps features one of the most famous romances of all time. It is the tale of Romulus and Remus, twin brothers who were believed to have founded the city in 753 BC. The brothers have become part of the shared history of the world, and myths, legends, and archeological finds have worked together to create a deep, storied narrative.

The myths tell us that Romulus and Remus were abandoned by their father, Mars, the god of war, and left to die on the banks of the Tiber River. Instead, they were saved and raised by a she-wolf, who showed them compassion and nurtured them in their new home. After growing to adulthood, the brothers eventually decided to found a new city, which ultimately became known as Rome.

In some versions, a terrible conflict between the brothers led to the death of Remus. Where one brother had not been enough to build a city, two were finally deemed necessary. After Romulus’s death, Rome eventually grew to become one of the most powerful cities in the world, conquering and absorbing various cultures until finally becoming the cultural and political center of the Roman Empire.

In archeological terms, the story of Romulus and Remus is difficult to fully substantiate. While we know that Rome has been a major center of power in the Mediterranean for centuries, specific dates for the founding are uncertain. Likewise, physical evidence for the she-wolf that raised the brothers has yet to be found.

The best evidence we have of the brothers’ heritage are artifacts from the Roman period that depict them being suckled by the she-wolf. Artifacts like this are illuminated by legends and stories of other gods and goddesses, as well as artifacts depicting scenes from daily life, which help to provide valuable insights into this period of human history.

We do know, however, that the Roman Empire embraced the brothers as its founding fathers, and this reverence for the mythical twins has endured for centuries. Even now, the iconic image of the she-wolf with the twins can be found throughout Italy, from the walls of ancient buildings to the carvings in Roman churches.

Political and Religious Rulers

The legacy of Romulus and Remus endures today in both political and religious contexts. They have become a symbol of power and of civic pride for Romans ever since their tales first began to spread. The current president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, is often compared to Romulus; his name even translates to ‘son of Mars’, just as Romulus’s did.

The religious significance of the brothers is often associated with the idea of divine founders. They were believed to have received divine guidance when they founded their city, which may have led to the veneration of both Romulus and Remus in religious ceremonies. Similarly, some scholars suggest that the concept of founding fathers is not limited to Rome, but may be seen in various other cities and cultures, lasting long after the Roman Empire eventually fell.

Romulus and Remus have also come to represent Rome more generally. Their story is inextricably linked to the founding of modern Italy, and their names are evocative of all that is heroic and powerful about the nation. Political and religious leaders – from French Revolutionary-era figures like Robespierre to Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini – have drawn on the ideals of strength, courage and patriotism inherent in the tale of the brothers, in order to propagate their own political agendas.

The influence of the brothers in today’s political landscape speaks to the continued importance of their myths. Romulus and Remus have come to represent the strength that Rome has always had, and the tenacity and boldness of its culture and people. In that way, they remain a tribute to a city that has stood the test of time.

The Power of Mythology

The enduring power of the story of Romulus and Remus speaks to a deeper understanding of the role of mythology in human history. The enduring power of myths and legends often reflects how much they can tell us about the culture, values and beliefs of a particular people or place in time, as well as providing us with interesting stories, characters and lessons that have come to influence us today.

The analysis of these stories by experts in the field of folklore, literature and anthropology can help unlock unique insights into the power of the brothers’ story. We can analyse the story to gain insight into the ways that the Roman Empire evolved and the motivations for their mythology, and also to uncover deeper themes of loyalty, courage and heroism.

Mythology, in all its forms, can have an immense influence over our behaviour, values and beliefs. Whether it is an ancient legend or a modern fairytale, we can take away the broader sense of how stories are created, the power they can have and the lasting impact they might have.

The mythology of Romulus and Remus is one example of how people construct stories that are based on events or characters that are important to them. Through their struggles, hard-fought successes, and eventual defeat, they each provide an important lesson to be learned: that strength and courage will always be rewarded in the long run.

Lingering Legacy

The legacy of Romulus and Remus is deep and far-reaching. Even though Rome eventually fell, their impact on the nation of Italy and the broader world is undeniable. In modern times, their story is still told around the world, from school children to seasoned scholars.

Recent archaeological finds have suggested that the origin of the brothers may have been more complex than the traditional tale. That said, the enduring power of the story of Romulus and Remus indicates that the legend still has something to say about human nature and the power of inspiration.

We can also look to the story to gain insights into our own times. It is a reminder of how powerful belief and legend can be, both in terms of unifying a population and providing them with a sense of hope and identity. In addition, it speaks to the power of determination and resilience in the face of great obstacles, even in the face of despair.

Though the exact details may have been lost in the mists of time, there is no doubt that the legend of Romulus and Remus still resonates with people today. Whether it is our personal sense of identity or our broader understanding of the world, their legacy shows that heroism, courage, and resilience never go out of style.

A Source of Art and Inspiration

The story of Romulus and Remus has also been a source of artistic inspiration throughout the ages. Countless paintings and sculptures depict the brothers with the she-wolf, and the imagery can be found in works by major Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo and Raphael. Modern art has also been inspired by them, with some contemporary artists interpreting their iconic image in a variety of ways.

The sheer pervasiveness of the brothers’ tale makes them a useful point for analysis for those studying the art of the Roman period. We can use works like those of Michelangelo and Raphael to uncover insights into the symbolism and importance of the brothers – and also to gain a deeper understanding of the changing tastes of Roman artistic fashion.

In modern times, the brothers’ tale can also provide us with an example of the power of myth and storytelling. We can look to the way that the brothers have been depicted throughout the centuries – from their humble beginnings to their enduring presence – to understand why myth and legend have been so vital to human societies.

At its most fundamental level, the story of Romulus and Remus can serve as a reminder that, while human lives may be short, our stories can live on forever.


The story of Romulus and Remus is a testament to the power of myth and legend. Though the details of their tale may not be historically or scientifically accurate, the brothers’ legacy still resonates with people today. They have become a source of strength, courage and resilience – and a reminder of the power of determination and belief.

Their story has also become a source of artistic inspiration, from ancient paintings to modern interpretations. Furthermore, analysis of the artwork can provide vital insights into the symbolism and changing fashion of Roman art. Ultimately, the story of Romulus and Remus is a reminder of the lasting power of myth and legend, and their role in shaping our culture and values.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

Leave a Comment