April 21: Eternity Has To Start Sometime

2016/04/21 § 2 Comments

On this day in 753 BC, Rome, the Eternal City, was founded.

Agreed: it’s no simple task to record exact dates in the long, long, long-ago past.  Well maybe not so simple for most people in most places.  But this is Rome we’re talking about.  And a city/culture/capital/empire as profound as this, with such a rich story of its beginnings, is allowed to select the date of that beginning and the rest of us are expected to duly take note.  Clio hopes you are writing this down.

The legend is well-known (as legends ought to be): brothers abandoned to the fates on the shores of the Tiber river, nourished by a “she-wolf” (what else could suckle them, one wonders), later cared for by a shepherd, finally the city is founded after the murder of Remus at the hands of his brother.  The Republic rises, the Empire ascends, and the rest is, as they say . . . well, you know.

Rome is not alone in the ritualistic codification of a foundations myth; even when the origins are not lost in the murky tides of long-ago-days, real history is often made mythic to enhance foundations, usually in the service of the city’s or nation’s collective Weltanschauung–generally speaking, “worldview” (although the German is more satisfying to speak).  So one wonders about the founding of Rome: a story of child abandonment, feral creatures, fratricide.  Quite a bit different from, say, a contest between noble gods bearing gifts (Athens), the mixing of male and female waters that begets earth and sky (Babylon), a big bird whose squawk shatters the silence of prehistoric chaos (Egypt); an angelic visitation to a future king (Hungary), a kindly Quaker who became instant BFFs with indigenous people who helped him invent whoopie pies (Philadelphia), the meeting of hot and cold which makes a dewy birth of a frost ogre and then it gets very confusing and ultimately ostensibly results in a cold landmass and cinnamon rolls (Scandinavia), a careless cow (modern Chicago).

Clio invites you to consider these mythical beginnings and their impact on shaping their people’s Weltanschauung and their cities’ architecture.  It’s one of her favorite hobbies.

Image: She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus, Campidoglio, Rome (from this source)

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§ 2 Responses to April 21: Eternity Has To Start Sometime

  • Erich says:

    Myth/Legend of Baton Rouge, LA. – The Houma Tribe was in a border conflict with the Bayougoula Tribe over hunting grounds. Mediation by Pierre Le Moyne Iberville’s brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, settled the conflict in March of 1700. The tribes placed a tall red pole marked by sacred animal carcasses and feathers in the ground on the bank of a bayou, at a place now known as Scott’s Bluff, establishing a new border between their peoples. Called Istrouma or Iti Homma by the natives and Baton Rouge by the French, this marker was at a site some five miles above Bayou Manchac on the east bank of the Mississippi. The area developed as a trading post and the modern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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