‘Faustulus took them to his hut and gave them to his wife Larentia to nurse. Some think that the origin ofthis fable was the fact that Larentia was a common whore and was called Wolf by the shepherds’.
A lot is made of the founders of Rome being suckled by a wolf, as it especially helps explain the war-like nature of the Romans. If it was a fable as Livy suggests, then it risked removing that natural ferocity they tried to cultivate. When it comes to the actual foundation of the city, some accounts have Romulus committing fratricide in the dispute over the hills and some say a follower of his called Celer was the one that killed Remus. Livy gives us the fratricide and the poet Ovid the Celer version. Each tale seems to be personal preference of each author.
The festival of Palilia (or Parilia) was also celebrated by the Romans on April 21st. It was a festival to celebrate the rustic deity Pales. It is not entirely clear whether this deity was male or female, but that god was the patron of shepherds and sheep. Book 4 of Ovid’s Fasti tells us about the festival. Ovid suggests that the festival is older than the city. In pre-Imperial times it was celebrated with a rural feel, but due to the urbanisation during the empire the festival was reworked and perhaps it was merged with the celebrations of the birthday of Rome. We know that Philip the Arab returned to Rome from fighting in the East to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the founding in 248 CE. He commemorated this occasion on silver coinage.
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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Rome’s Birthday (April 21)” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 04/20/2021. https://ancientromelive.org/romes-birthday-april-21/
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