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The story of the fall of Rome is legendary: the great empire, bloated and corrupt after years of greatness, cracks and falls to ruin.
But what about the start of Rome? Where did the Roman Empire get its start?
- Romans claim they come from Troy
Ancient Romans claimed that they were descended from a man named Aeneas. Following the destruction of Troy, Aeneas, his father and his son escaped, eventually ending up in Italy with an army of his countrymen. His descendants would go on to found Alba Longa, which bridged the gap between the Trojan colonization and the founding of Rome.
- Rome was founded by two brothers
According to legend, the infants Romulus and Remus were prophesied to kill their great uncle, so their great uncle ordered them drowned in the Tiber River. Thankfully, the servants took pity on the young boys and simply set them adrift in a basket. They washed up on the bank, where they were found and nursed by a she-wolf until they were found. Later, the brothers returned to that site to found their own city – Rome.
- One brother killed the other
The brothers disagreed on which hill to found the city, so each climbed their favorite hill and waited for a sign. However, they both claimed they saw signs in favor of their hills, and Romulus went ahead and plowed the pomerium, a symbolic boundary around the city. The brothers argued, and when Remus jumped over the pomerium, Romulus killed him, cementing the site of Rome.
- The Romans were not always the big dogs
During Rome’s beginnings, the biggest power around them was a civilization called the Etruscans. The Romans borrowed many things from the Etruscans, the most important of which being temple building. Also built with help from the Etruscan culture was the famous Cloaca Maxima, the extensive sewer system of Rome that is still in use today.
- Rome was ruled by non-Romans for years
Romulus and Remus, in reality, were technically Etruscans. This means that their 7 descendants, who ruled over Rome for years, were not Romans. The last was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, who waged wars to subdue Rome’s neighbors, but also used violence to keep the Romans subdued, as well as disrespect the Roman Senate. After an incident where Superbus’ relatives raped a Roman Senator’s daughter. The Romans threw him and his family out, finally creating the Roman Republic.