31 October 2010
The She-Wolf as a Roman Symbol
While strolling down the famous streets of Rome, Italy, one will inevitably be surrounded
by the wondrous architecture and legendary artwork of past European sculptors.
amazing relics are the Basilica Papale di
Santa Maria Maggiore,
the Biblioteca Casanatense, and
the Rome City Hall.
A striking feature that links all of these buildings is the image of the
Capitoline She-Wolf, a creature originating from ancient Roman mythology that has evolved into
an important symbol of Rome.
The she-wolf’s motherly role in the tale of Romulus and Remus
and the founding of Rome has allowed it to become a spiritual icon of the Italian capital city.
The legend of the establishment of Rome involves the story of Romulus and Remus.
an ancient time, before the existence of Italy, there was a kingdom called Alba Longo ruled by
The king defeated his brother, Numitor, in a battle, which consequently led to
Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, was forced to become a Vestal Virgin
by Amulius, meaning she became a priestess of the goddess Vesta and hence forbidden to marry.
However, Mars, the God of War, came to her in her temple, and soon Rhea Silvia conceived twin
boys, Romulus and Remus.
After the birth of the twins, Amulius, fearing the boys would grow
up to overthrow him, ordered his slave to throw the babies into the Tiber River.
This form of
quasi-infanticide was tolerated in numerous ancient societies, including the Roman and Greek,
when children were unwanted.
Unable to complete the cruel task at hand, the slave placed the
babies on a basket and set it afloat on the water.
At the time, the Tiber was flooding, and when