Foundation of Rome
This article points out the account of the Fondation of Rome that the ancient authors left us, then the studies which were made on this tradition. One will note the evolution of the opinions to the wire of the centuries, and the successive steps of confrontation between the archaeological texts and discoveries.
Two traditions existed in antiquity on the origin of Rome.
- the Greeks, with Hellanicos of Mytilène (living with the O C), allotted its foundation to a descendant of Énée and Trojan survivors of the Trojan War.
- the old Roman accounts also evoked some Latinus, king of the indigenous tribe of the Latin , and father-in-law of Énée, as being the founder of the city.
The account of the foundation
It is starting from the fictitious date of this event (the foundation of Rome) that the Romans counted the years. This convention required a legendary justification to affirm the crowned character of it; two narrations are known through the graeco-latin literature on the account of this foundation:
- Tite-Live (- 57, 17) wrote a history of Rome: Ab urbe condita (AUC) , which in Latin means “starting from the foundation of the city”.
- Denys d' Halicarnasse (towards -54, towards 8), Greek rhetor bench in Rome, wrote a work entitled Romaiké Archaiologia ( Roman Antiquité ).
According to these two historiographers, of which more (Re) known is Tite-Live, Romulus and Remus was the wire of the Vestale Rhéa Silvia and of the god Mars, according to the dires of the young girl, resulting from the royal family of Alba Longa, city close. Condemned to died by their great-uncle, usurper anxious to be détrôné by legitimate heirs, the children were abandoned in a quagmire, on banks of the the Tiber in rising, by the servants charged to carry out the sentence. They were then collected by a she-wolf (but in Latin the she-wolf, lupa, mean also the prostitute, it would be then more probable than Romulus and Remus was collected by a prostitute) who nursed them in the cave of the Lupercal, with the foot of the Palatin (it is interesting to announce that the word " ruma " indicate in Latin antiquated a " mamelle" , this term indicating perhaps also by allegory, the hills which strew the site). Thereafter, the shepherd Faustulus, witness of this wonder, then collected the twins and raised them, in company of its wife Acca Larentia.
Become adult, they decided to found a city. Not managing to decide between that of both which would give its name to the new city, they relied on the Augure S which indicated Romulus.
Whereas it traces the Pomœrium , crowned furrow delimiting the city, raising the swing-plow for sparing doors, his/her brother Rémus, to make fun of the weakness of the new city, crosses of a step this rampart symbolic system. At once Romulus kills it, marking thus, also symbolically, the supercilious intransigence of Rome in front of any malevolent incursion.
This rite founder is followed various events which contribute to the initial settlement of Rome: removal of Sabines, war against the king sabin Titus Tatius, help brought by the Etruscan chief Coelius Vibenna who is installed on a hill to which it gives his name (according to Varron), peace with Sabins, and shares capacity with Titus Tatius.
The date of the foundationThe birthday of the day of the foundation of Rome was a celebrated festival on April 21st (festival of the Palilia ). The year appointed by the Romans and the modern historians is -753, date suggested by Tite-Live, in spite of some alternative propositions:
- Timée de Tauroménion (towards -350,-250), quoted by Denys d' Halicarnasse proposes -813, at the same time as the foundation of Carthage.
- Fabius Pictor (towards -254,-201), first historian Roman, bases on royalty from 7 generations from 35 years which precedes the establishment by the Republic and leads to -747 or -748.
- critic Caton Old (- 234, - 149) which wrote a history of the Origines calculates 432 years after the Trojan War, and obtains -751.
- the Roman writer Varron (- 116, -27) resumes work of Fabius Pictor and corrects the date of foundation of Rome into 753/754, which Tite-Live will adopt.
- Denys d' Halicarnasse in a demonstration argued on the chronology of the kings goes back the foundation to Rome of the first year of the seventh Olympiad, that is to say -751.
Vestiges at the time of the Roman RepublicAt the time of Cicéron, therefore with I er, the Romans showed proudly on Palatine the put Romuli , a hut with the thatched roof and the walls of cob, where the shepherd Faustulus raised the children Romulus and Remus, and another hut on the Capitole in front of the Jupiter temple Optimus Maximus, allotted to Romulus in person or with his/her colleague Titus Tatius. Are respected vestiges and legendary attributions, they indices of habitat certainly very old, but of which time?
Criticisms of the tradition
Tite-Live and Denys d' Halicarnasse emitted themselves of the reserves on what they reported.
At the 18th century, a massive rejection is expressed with the Dissertation on the first five centuries uncertainty of the Roman history , of Louis of Beaufort, published in 1738.
The historian Mommsen (1817-1903) expressed more moderated doubts. He put forth the assumption that the ancient tradition could be built starting from actual facts but projected on a past remote and transformed into myths: for example immigration in Rome of Sabine population (arrived of the Claudii) at the beginning of the Republic would be at the origin of the episode of the removal of Sabines and association with Titus Tatius.
Others critical underline the practice of the old authors to invent a character éponyme to provide the origin of the name of a place. Romulus and Rome, the Etruscan chief Coelius Vibenna and the hill of the Cælius are examples of this mechanism.
But as long as the historians could be pressed only on texts, the debate could not progress. The archaeological analyzes brought new elements.
The contribution of archeologyArcheology showed that the site of Rome was occupied as of X E. The site of Rome is not whereas a whole of villages of pastors, divided on the hills surrounding the depression of the Roman forum.
First archaeological discoveries in RomeThe first discovered ones date from the beginning of the 20th century, and were followed the different one, randomly of work or surveys:
- some vestiges found between the Tiber and the Boarium forum attest a presence towards, but this one does not seem to have been continuous. It is thus not retained like contributing to the foundation of Rome.
- on the Germal (western top of the Palatine ), one discovered into 1907 of the funds of huts which one released in 1949: grounds dug in the tuff of the hill, holes of posts, traces of hearth; associated ceramics dated from the 8th century
- on the Palatual (is Palatin ), other funds of huts. The presence of a tomb with ballot box of incineration between these two groups of huts makes it possible to suppose the existence of a space released between these two establishments.
- the space which will become the Roman forum was initially a Nécropole; one found into 1902-1903 41 tombs close to the temple to Antonin and Faustine: funerary wells of tombs with incineration, pits of burial with varied furniture, of which vases proto-Corinthians of the 7th century. Huts were also located, in the center of the forum and on the slopes of the Palatine one.
- on the Quirinal , 5 tombs, ones with incineration, others with burial
- on the Esquilin , 86 tombs, very with burial, except four with incineration. These tombs contained a movable rich person different from preceding the necropoles: weapons, helmets, shields and even a tank.
The datings carried out spread out 10th century at the 7th century, which is compatible with the tradition. The first inhabitants of Rome thus lived in coarse huts of cob to the image of the funeral urns in the shape of round huts found in the forum, and were as a pastors majority and peasants.
The first archaeological interpretationsParallel to these discoveries, the studies on the people Indo-Europeans, to which belong the Latin , indicated a prevalence for the funeral by incineration, while the Mediterranean people were famous exclusive followers of the burial. The tombs with incineration all were thus supposed to be Latin. Since the tradition of the foundation of Rome described a mixture between Latin and Sabins, different people, the tombs by burial were systematically allotted to of Sabins, that one estimated more influenced by the Mediterranean habits.
The ethnos group of each village was thus deduced according to the proximity and the type from the burials: The cemetery of the forum was allotted to Latin, as well as the huts of Palatine and Velia (confirming the tradition), the necropolis of Esquilin in Sabins (this time against the tradition which locates Latin at it) just as that of Quirinal (in spite of the small number and the diversity of the tombs).
One supposed a first federation of the two villages of Palatine, apparently oldest, which is extended then to seven villages to create the Septimontium.
Nowadays, the archeologists are less categorical on ethnic attributions, more especially as often on the same site coexist of the tombs with incineration and the tombs with burial. They avoid interpretations of the lucky finds carried out in the light of the traditions and rather seek to place the archaeological data in an overall context, with its cultural evolutions and its interactions.
The deepening of archaeological research
From 1948, new archaeological excavations in Rome and in the Latium brought factual elements on the origin of Rome. Starting from a census of all the vestiges discovered in Rome and in Latium, the Swedish archeologist Einar Gjerstad (1897-1988) proposed a chronology of the period going 10th front century J.C at 6th front century J.C in four phases. Very discussed by its fellow-members, revised per H. Müller-Karpe and R. Peroni in 1962, it ended up being allowed as tallies of reference:
- the first phase is placed at 10th front century J.C at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the age of iron. Latin practice the incineration, collect the remainders in vases or funeral urns in the shape of hut, then join together in an earthenware jar ( dolium ) the ballot box, reproductions in miniature of furniture or usual objects out of bronze or terra cotta, sometimes the remainders of the funerary meal. This earthenware jar is then buried in a funerary puit. This mode of incineration/burial is also applied to the same period in Etrurie.
the second phase goes from the beginning of the IX E with the beginning of VIII E (900-770 for Müller-Karpe-Peroni). New types of vases, Fibule S show contacts with the Étrurie and the Campanie. The practice of the incineration moves back with the profit of the burial. One subdivides this period in IIA (practical majority of the incineration) and IIB (majority burial).
the third phase occupies the medium of the VIII E (770-730 for Müller-Karpe-Peroni). Greek ceramic imports of of geometrical style appear, imitated by the local production. The metal objects diversify, the tombs represent by the diversity of their furniture a social differentiation and the appearance of rich families.
the fourth phase , known as orientalizing , goes from the end of the VIII E at the beginning of VI E (730-570 for Müller-Karpe-Peroni). Greek and Etruscan ceramics is present in all Latium. Rich person tombs testify to the existence of a warlike aristocracy in Latium, contemporary of that which develops in Etrurie. It is at this period that the oldest known written document is attached, the Fibule de Préneste bearing in characters Greek the name of Numasios and gone back to approximately -675. It is also at this period that one attaches the first walls discovered to the foot of Palatine in 1987, perhaps a vestige of the Pomœrium.
New archaeological interpretationsThis series of excavations on a broader perimeter supplement the excavations of before the Second world war. They confirm the presence of hamlets dispersed on the various hills of Rome as of X E, with a culture close to the culture villanovienne of the Étrurie (ballot boxes cinéraires in tombs with well). Labelling on the site of Rome between Latin villages, sabins, Etruscans now appears a hazardous exercise, on human groups in the modest and homogeneous conditions.
This dispersed settlement evolves/moves slowly, modifying its funerary practices, without one being able to see a marked rupture, which would have reflected an abrupt change of settlement. The medium of the VIII E testifies to an acceleration to social differentiation, and the beginning of a company with a richer aristocracy, in contact with the Greek expansion which also starts it at this period. This movement touches Etrurie, the Campania, Latium, and of course the site of Rome.
To the VIII E, the forum romanum is not any more one cemetery and starts to be inhabited. The burials are pushed back towards Esquilin. These tombs of warrior are located in phase IV of the chronology, but do not have the luxury of other Latin tombs of the same time. The imports in Etruscan ceramics Rome start towards the end of the 7th century, late on the remainder of Latium. Always at the 7th century, the forum romanum becomes a public space, with the installation of a empierré ground.
The forum romanum seems the witness of the birth of Rome: it was successively marsh, Cimetière with incineration then with burial, inhabited place, public space. The historian Pierre Grimal studied it and drew from them the observations which follow.
Traces of the ritual of foundationPierre Grimal raises in his work the Roman cities the recurring elements of the ritual of foundation practiced by the Romans and the Etruscans, confirmed by the plan of the colonies that they founded and recut partly by the description of Tite-Live:
- delimitation of the city by a crowned furrow, the Pomœrium, bled opening the ground and insuperable because under the influence of the infernal gods
- orientation according to the cardinal axes, materialized by four doors vis-a-vis the four cardinal points, stopping the layout of the crowned furrow; Latin named these two axes the Cardo and the Decumanus
- a setting under the protection of the gods “of in top”, in their dedicating a temple on a high point of the foundation, so that their glance covers the largest possible surface of the future city
- in the center of the foundation, a circular pit called mundus receiving offerings for the divinities “of in bottom”.
- in North, the door of Janus
- in the South, the Roman door
- in the East, the “beam of the sister”, carries by where fatal Horace of his/her sister, would have entered the city after being itself purified
- in the West, the Porta Pandana , of bad forecasts, and perched on the slope of the Capitole so that no one does not cross it.
According to Pierre Grimal, these doors are the vestiges of the rite of foundation, the decumanus , East-West traditional axis having become the Via Sacra (Sacred way), while the cardo North-South are read in the ways which prolong it, the Argiletum in north and the Vicus Tuscus in the south. Another point of the ritual is respected, by the overhanging position of the temple of the Capitole, for the protective triad Jupiter, Junon, Minerve. These observations thus confirm the respect of the rite of foundation, but contradict its place: the layout founder deduced from these four doors girdles the old forum and not the Palatin as indicate it Tite-Live and Denys d' Halicarnasse.
-550 - -530, approximately -600, approximately -675 and approximately -730 - -720. The discovery of the undeniable remainders of an urban delimitation at the eighth century around the Palatine one returns for A. Carandini and A. Grandazzi to the foundation romuléenne of Rome. According to A. Grandazzi the myth of the foundation of Rome would return well to an historical event and a historical character, whom we know as Romulus, whose memory was preserved and mythifiée, through in particular the action of Servius Tullius. If the factual existence of the remainders discovered by A. Carandini is not called in question, interpretations which put them in connection with the action of Romulus and its possible historicity remain still very discussed.
ConclusionsIf one brings closer the analysis to Pierre Grimal of the phenomenon of projection of real events in a mythical past suggested by Mommsen, one can estimate that the rite of foundation was indeed carried out, but at the time where the depression of the forum started to be populated. Which are the authors of this foundation? There still, it is delicate to decide between the Romans of the origins and the Etruscans. Pierre Grimal leans for the foundation of an Etruscan colony, on a site already inhabited and according to the rites allotted to Romulus. The modern historians agree to consider that the kings Étrusques by occupying the area will make of Rome a true city towards 600 av. J. - C., by equipping it with a wall, by arranging the forum and by building the sanctuary of the Capitole. The ancient Romans, as for them, were of course transmitted the past which made them them authors of the foundation of Rome.
On the contrary, if one wants to follow the analyzes developed by A. Grandazzi, the formation of Rome must be seen like a complex process marked by an event founder towards -730: the foundation of an urban enclosure within the habitat already present on the Palatine one, the installation of the forum corresponding only to one phase of development and monumentalisation of an urban entity which had already its identity and its history. The myths would not then constitute projection in the past of évênements posterior, but would maintain with the historical facts the more complex reports/ratios.
Not fundamental of the scientific history of Roman antiquity, the question of the foundation of Rome, still discussed today, watch the difficulty that there is to confront the ancient sources and archaeological reality in spite of the unquestionable progression of knowledge on the oldest reality of the town of Rome.
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