Romulus Resources Page

The resources on this page are intended as supplemental material for

NOTE: The supplemental material on the following pages is teen-friendly according to my family’s standards. As standards vary from person to person, please preview to make sure the content is suitable for your family. 

Table of Contents

Lesson #1: Men or Myths?

Origin Story

Have you read about the Trojan War yet? Believe it or not, it’s where the story of Romulus begins! 

Plutarch Romulus - Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy, c. 1760. National Gallery, London.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.
Plutarch Resources - Romulus - Batoni Pompeo, Aeneas Fleeing from Troy
Aeneas Fleeing from Troy by Batoni Pompeo, c. 1750, Galleria Sabauda, Turin, Italy.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.

Here’s an article about Helen, Queen of Sparta: “Helen of Troy: The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships” from ThoughtCo.

And here are some of my favorite retellings of the Trojan War:

But was Troy a Real City?

You can see the World UNESCO site for the Archeological evidence of Troy here

Here’s an article to tell you more about the archeological evidence of Troy: “In Search of Troy” from the Smithsonian Musuem. 

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #2: The She-Wolf

Romulus Lesson 2 - The Capitoline She-Wolf
The Capitoline She-Wolf. 5th century BCE. Musei Capitolini, Rome.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.

Take a virtual tour of the Salla della Lupa (Hall of the She-Wolf) of the Capitoline Museum Gallery via Google Arts here.

The Vestal Virgins

Vesta is the goddess of the hearth, home, and family in the religion of ancient Rome. Only her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins, were allowed in Vesta’s temple where they tended the sacred fire. 

There were 6 Vestal Virgins, chosen between the ages of 6 and 10, who then served as priestesses for 30 years. 

Dedication of a New Vestal Virgin by Alessandro Marchesini
Dedication of a New Vestal Virgin by Alessandro Marchesini, 1710.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.
Mars and Rhea Silvia by Peter Paul Rubens
Mars and Rhea Silvia by Peter Paul Rubens, 1620.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.
Romulus and Remus by Peter Paul Rubens
The Finding of Romulus and Remus by Peter Paul Rubens, 1612. Musei Capitolini, Rome.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons.

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #3: A Secret Revealed

Lesson 3 - Romulus Offers the Head of Amulius to Numitor by Bernaert Van Orley
Romulus Offers the Head of Amulius to Numitor by Bernaert Van Orley.
Public domain Image. Wikipedia Commons.

Lesson #4: The Founding of Rome

Romulus Traces the Boundaries of Rome with a Plow by Annibale Carracci, 1590, Palazzo Magnani in Bologna, Italy.
Romulus Traces the Boundaries of Rome by Annibale Carracci, 1590, Palazzo Magnani, Bologna, Italy.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

This painting is just one of 14 frescos that tell the Stories of the Founding of Rome.

As part of A Plutarch Picture Study: The Life Romulus, you can learn more about all 14 frescos on the Picture Study Resources page for Romulus here.

Auspicious Augury

Griffon Vulture. Photo by Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin.
Griffon Vulture. Photo by Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin.

Want to learn more about the “auspicious” beginning of Rome? Read this article from Prayers and Piazzas: “Of Birds, Brothers and Beginnings: The Birth of Rome”

You can read more about the vultures of Europe at the Discover Wildlife website here.

The Oracle of Delphi: The Most Powerful Woman of Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, the Pythian Oracle was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. She was also known as the Oracle of Delphi and as the Pythoness.

Apollo was the god of prophecy and was seen as a source of guidance. As a result, the ancient Greeks built many sites for the oracles of Apollo. The Oracle of Delphi became the most well-known and influential of all the oracles. People would come from far and wide to consult her.

Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, 1894 painting by Albert Tournaire
Priestess of Delphi by John Collier, 1891, Art Gallery of South Australia
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

The Oracle of Delphi was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the ancients Greeks, and she was one of the most powerful women in the classical world.

The Oracle of Delphi is one of the best-documented religious institutions of the classical Greeks. Authors who have mentioned her include Aristotle, Diogenes, Euripides, Herodotus, Livy, Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides, and of course, Plutarch.

You can read more about the Pythia in this interesting article by The Conversation: “Hidden Women of History: The Priestess Pythia at The Delphic Oracle, Who Spoke Truth to Power”

Delphi: The Center of the World

The ancient Greeks considered Delphi to be the center of the world. Located on Mount Parnassus, it was named after the Delphyne, a she-serpent Drakaina who lived there (in other accounts the serpent was the male serpent, Drakon or Python).

Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, 1894 painting by Albert Tournaire
Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi by Albert Tournaire, 1894, École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

According to Greek mythology, the hill was guarded by the serpent, who was a follower of the Earth goddess Gaia. Apollo claimed Delphi as his own sanctuary after killing the serpent.

The Pythia became Apollo’s high priestess and his mouthpiece through whom he gave prophecies.

The name Pythia is derived from the Greek verb púthein “to rot,” which refers to the sickly sweet smell from the decomposing body of the monstrous Python after it was slain by Apollo.

Apollo and Python by J.M.W. Turner, 1811, Tate National Gallery, London.
Apollo and Python by J.M.W. Turner, 1811, Tate National Gallery, London.
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

Ode to a King: The Galerie d’Apollon

The Galerie d’Apollon (Apollo Gallery) within the Louvre Museum is dedicated to the god Apollo. The gilded hall was commissioned by King Louis XIV of France.

King Louis XIV famously identified himself with the sun god Apollo and this splendid gallery was the first tangible representation of that image. To create this masterpiece of architectural decoration, he summoned the greatest painters, gilders and sculptors of the day, who later worked on the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles.

– Louvre Museum website

Apollo Gallery, Louvre, Paris
Apollo Gallery, Louvre, Paris
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons
Apollo Gallery, Louvre, Paris
Apollo Gallery, Louvre, Paris
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

Below you can see the painting Apollo Slays the Python by Eugène Delacroix on the ceiling of the Galerie d’Apollon.

Apollo Slays Python by Eugène Delacroix 1851
Apollo Slays Python by Eugène Delacroix, 1851, Apollo Gallery, Louvre, Paris
Public domain image, Wikipedia Commons

You can see more of the Galerie d’Apollon on the Louvre’s website here or in the video below.

Plutarch at Delphi

Did you know? Plutarch was a Priest at Delphi.

Around 95 CE, Plutarch was appointed as one of the two sanctuary priests for the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

His priestly duties connected with his writings. In his book, Moralia, Plutarch wrote two articles about the Pythia: “Why Pythia Does Not Give Oracles in Verse” and “On the ‘E’ at Delphi.”

Delphi Today

You can visit the archeological site of Delphi here: UNESCO Archeological Site of Delphi

Photo of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi by Bernard Gagnon
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi
Photo courtesy of Bernard Gagnon

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #5: The Abduction of the Sabine Women

The legend of the abduction of the Sabine women in ancient Rome is a disturbing one, to say the least. 

How does Plutarch treat the subject as he retells the legend? Please see the study questions for this lesson in both resources:

Rape of the Sabine Women by Pietro da Cortona (1629) Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.
Rape of the Sabine Women by Pietro da Cortona, 1629, Musei Capitolini, Rome
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

As part of A Plutarch Picture Study: The Life Romulus, you can learn more about this painting and several others regarding Lesson #5 on the Picture Study Resources page for Romulus here.

Sabine, Not Sobbin'

This story is the subject of a song called “Sobbin’ Women” in the 1954 movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

The movie was based on the short story “The Sobbin’ Women” by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was based on the ancient Roman legend of the abduction of the Sabine women. 

You can see the song in the video below. How much of the story as portrayed in the song is incorrect? Compare and contrast the attitudes regarding the treatment of women in ancient Rome, the 1954 movie, and the present-day.

The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome. It could hold more than 150,000 spectators and was the site of chariot races.

According to Livy’s History of Rome, the Circus Maximus was built by the 5th king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, also known as Tarquin the Elder. Later kings and emperors added to it.

Learn more about the artwork for Lesson #5 on the Picture Study Resources page for Romulus.

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #6: War and Treachery

Regarding the story of Tarpeia, you can see a picture of the Tarpeian Rock below as it looked in 2008. 

Tarpeian Rock, Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.
Tarpeian Rock (in 2008), Rome, Italy
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

Lesson #7: The Intervention of the Sabine Women

Square Artwork 8 detail - Romulus
Intervention of the Sabine Women (detail) by Jacques Louis David, 1799, Louvre Museum, Paris
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

The above image is a detail from David’s Intervention of the Sabine Women.

For more information about this painting, see the Plutarch Picture Study Resources page for Romulus.

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #8: The Romans and Sabines Make Peace

Necklace with Bulla, Ostia, Augustan age, gold. Vatican Museum, Rome. Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.
Necklace with Bulla, Ostia, Augustan age, gold. Vatican Museum, Rome.
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.
Bust of a child with a bulla. Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

You can read more about Roman togas in this ThoughtCo article: The 6 Types of Togas Worn in Ancient Rome

You can read more about the Lupercalia festival in this article by the American Shakespeare Center: “You know it is the Feast of Lupercal”: February Traditions Now and Then.

Lupercalia by Andrea Camassei
Lupercalia by Andrea Camassei, c. 1635, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

Lesson #9: A Murder and a Plague

In this lesson, Plutarch says there was “blood rain” with the plague. 

According to a study published in the journal Phylogenetics and Evolutionary Biology, blood rain can be caused by the presence of the microalgae Trentepohlia annulata. 

Other scientists say it can also be caused by dust particles in the air.

You can learn more about this strange phenomenon on Wikipedia: Blood Rain or in this article by the Met Office, a weather forecasting service in the UK: Blood Rain.

Or watch the video below.

Besides a murder and a plague, this chapter also recounts several laws that Romulus enacted. 

Romulus Gives Laws to the Roman People by Bernard van Orley, c. 1524. Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Museum, Muich, Germany. Public Domain Image, Wikipedia Commons.
Romulus Gives Laws to the Roman People by Bernard van Orley, c. 1524.
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Museum, Munich, Germany.
Public Domain Image, Wikipedia Commons.
La Mort de Tatius (detail) by Jacques Réattu, c. 1788, Musée Réattu, Arles, France..
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

The image above is a detail from La Mort de Tatius by Jacques Réattu.

For more information about this painting and others, see the Plutarch Picture Study Resources page for Romulus.

The Life of Romulus

A Plutarch Picture Study

There's more to explore with A Plutarch Picture Study for Romulus! 

Click Here for Private Artwork Resources

Lesson #10: Romulus Quirinus

In this lesson, Plutarch mentions the Battle of Zama which was fought between Rome and Carthage and led by the great military leaders Scipio Africanus and Hannibal, respectively.

The image below shows one artist’s depiction of the battle.

You can read more about Scipio and Hannibal on the Heritage History website.

Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, c. 1567, Art Institute of Chicago. Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.
Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, c. 1567, Art Institute of Chicago.
Public domain image, Wikipedia commons.

The Battle of Zama

The Roman and Carthaginian forces were said to have been quite equal in manpower when they eventually met face-to-face at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE.
A Roman historian named Livy (59 BCE-17 CE) dramatically described the scale and consequential nature of the battle:
“[T]o decide this great issue, the two most famous generals and the two mightiest armies of the two wealthiest nations in the world advanced to battle, doomed either to crown or to destroy the many triumphs each had won in the past” (Livy, Roman History, 30.32).
In the ensuing showdown, Scipio’s cavalry advantage proved vital, whereas Hannibal’s elephants apparently did less harm to the Romans than they did to his own army.
The Greek historian, Polybius (c. 200-118 BCE), described the battle:
“Since they were equally matched not only in numbers but also in courage, in warlike spirit and in weapons, the issue hung for a long while in the balance. Many fell on both sides, fighting with fierce determination where they stood, but at length the [Roman aligned] squadrons of Masinissa and Laelius returned from their pursuit of the Carthaginian cavalry and arrived by a stroke of fortune at the crucial moment. When they charged Hannibal’s troops from the rear, the greater number of his men were cut down in their ranks, while of those who took to flight only a few escaped…” (Polybius, The Histories, 15.14).
Hannibal was one of the Carthaginians who lived to fight another day. Yet, after Zama, Carthage was compelled to sue for peace with Rome. In the ensuing negotiations, Carthage was forced to dismantle its navy, pay hefty quantities of war reparations, and formally cede Carthaginian territory in Spain to the control of the Romans.
Such is the history behind the artwork featured above.
- C. Keith Hansley, The Historian Hut

Lesson #11: Enduring Symbol of Rome

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Romulus and the founding of Rome. 

If you’d like to read Virgil’s Aeneid, I’ve listed two retellings that I like below as well as a translation of the full book if you’d like to dive into the original epic poem! 

"Tell the Romans that by courage and self-control they will attain to the highest pitch of human power."
- The Annotated Plutarch: Romulus

As always, keep learning! 

Rachel

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