Rome Stories and Tips

The Capitoline She-Wolf and The Origins of Rome

Capitoline She-wolf, Rome, Italy Photo, Rome, Italy

To the left of the city hall, you will see a little-noticed column and an important symbol of Rome: the Capitoline She-Wolf!

This is a stone copy of an original Etruscan bronze that you can see inside the museum. The figure of Romulus and Remus were added later.

Here is the legend of Romulus, Remus, and the foundation of Rome.

Amulius was a wicked king that was ruling the kingdom of Alba Longo. He had a brother, Numitor, that he fought and sent into exile. Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, was forced to become a Vestal, and thus, not allowed to marry or have children. Mars, the God of War, saw her and fell in love. Soon enough, Rhea Silvia gave birth to twin boys. Furious, Amulius ordered the babies to be thrown in the Tiber. The slave that had to carry the task couldn't do it and just left the babies' basket to float. A she-wolf that had just lost her cubs saw the basket, and out of curiosity, reached for it and saved the boys. She looked after them for a while, the babies feeding on her milk. One day, a shepherd called Faustulus saw the boys with the wolf and brought them back home. He and his wife adopted them and named them Romulus and Remus. When grown, the boys became shepherds like their adopted father.

When guarding their sheep, Remus had a fight with a shepherd that was tending to Numitor's sheep. He was arrested and brought before Numitor. He had Remus tell his whole story and realized that he and his brother were his grandsons.

Later, Romulus and Remus attacked their great uncle Amulius and killed him. Numitor moved into Alba Longa, and the twins were living with him. However, they were missing their previous lives and decided to go to the spot where Faustulus found them and build a city of their own. Romulus favored the Palatine Hill, while Remus wanted to build on the Aventine. They could not agree and decided to build a city each. While Romulus was tracing the limits of his city, Remus came by and made fun of how easy it was for someone to breach the walls of this city and jumped over the line Romulus had just traced. This was an act of an aggression and whoever did it had to be put to death, so Romulus killed his brother. However, as a tribute to Remus's memory, he called his city Rome.
Based partially on fact, Romulus is thought to have been the first king of Rome around 753 BC.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip