Calgary Coin & Antique Gallery

Ancient Roman Mythology


Romulus & Remus

      Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Mars and the Vestal Rhea Silvia, were the mythical founders of Rome. At birth they were placed in a basket and set afloat on the Tiber (note the similarity to the story of Moses). The basket came aground at the grotto Lupercal, under a fig tree called Ruminal, where the twins were found and suckled by a she-wolf, and later raised by the shepherd family of Faustulus and and his wife, Acca Larentia.

      When young men, the brothers decided to found a city. After studying the flights of birds, and signs in the sky, it was determined that each Romulus and Remus would be in charge of a section of the new city, but the signs also determined that Romulus section would be twice the size of Remus' section. Romulus, using a plow pulled by a white cow and a white bull, cut a furrow to mark the boundary of his section. Remus, angry at his brother getting the larger part, jumped over the furrow into his brothers section, where Romulus killed him (in another version of the story, invented later by the poet Ennius, Remus just disappeared during a storm).

      Romulus went on to build the city, which was named Rome after him. He was later deified and became associated with Quirinus, under whose name he was worshipped.

      Romulus and Remus are represented on a number of Roman coins, usually is as babies suckling at the she-wolf. The most common of these are the small bronze coins issued during what is known as the Constantine commemorative period, ca. 330-346 AD.

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