From Roman Brigantia to Modern Bragança, Portugal

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

We often forget about Roman cities in Portugal since the whole of the Iberian Peninsula was known as Hispania. As we attempt to break that trend, today we explore Roman Brigantia (modern Bragança)!

Roman colonization, which occurred late in the Roman era, resulted in the establishment of private property and movement away from the forests, in addition to organizational changes resulting administrative, material and cultural evolution.

Remnants of the Luso-Roman castro societies are evident in Castro de Sacóias and the Castro de Avelãs. In these excavations, modern archaeologists have discovered funerary remains, coins and implements.

The Castro de Avelãs was an important center on the military road to Astorga, although there are many examples of the Roman presence. The area was dominated by 2 ethnic communities: the Zoelae, with their seat in Castro de Avelãs, and a Lusitanian civitas under the stewardship of the Baniense in the southern part of the district.

During Roman colonization, it was part of Gallaecia and dependent administratively on Astorga, on the Atlantic axis of a Roman highway from Meseta, that controlled the gold, iron and silver trade. 

Located about 5 mi from the city center, the municipal/regional airport (Bragança Airport), has scheduled flights by Aero VIP to Lisbon (LIS) and Vila Real (VRL). Bragança Airport is located north of the city, in the parish of Aveleda, accessible by taxi or bus route.

Sadly, Bragança is 1 of the 2 district capitals (along with Viseu) without a rail service in Portugal. There are 3 main accessways within the municipality: the IP4, IP2 and the N103 motorways.

Notable landmarks in the city include the 12th Century Domus Municipalis (Portugal’s oldest and largest town hall), the Renaissance cathedral, and the old town walls, which are still well preserved and look down on the river and the modern city.

We hope you enjoyed today’s exploration of this hidden gem. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to visit there yourself.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time for another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This time we head back to Britannia and home of The Beatles – Liverpool, England.

Today we explore the Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City!

It comprises 6 locations in the city center of Liverpool including the Pier Head, Albert Dock and William Brown Street, and includes many of the city’s most famous landmarks.

UNESCO received the city council’s nomination for the 6 sites in January 2003 and in March 2004 ICOMOS recommended that UNESCO inscribe the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City as a World Heritage Site.

The area was inscribed during the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2004. Its inclusion by UNESCO was attributed to the fact that it was ‘the supreme example of a commercial port at a time of Britain’s greatest global influence’

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The history of Liverpool can be traced back to 1190 AD when the place was known as “Liuerpul” (possibly meaning a pool or creek with muddy water), though other origins of the name have been suggested.  In the Iron Age the area around modern-day Liverpool was sparsely populated, though there was a seaport at Meols.

The area would come under Roman influence in about AD 70, with the northward advance to crush the druid resistance at Anglesey and to end the internal strife between the ruling family of Brigantes. The main Roman presence was at the fortress and settlement at Chester.

According to Ptolemy, the Latin hydronym for the Mersey was Seteia Aestuarium, which derives from the Setantii tribe. After the withdrawal of Roman troops, land in the area continued to be farmed by native Britons.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of Rome

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Last week we brought you a piece about Ancus Marcius: Rome’s 4th King. As we stated we will bring you the stories of all 7 Kings, but we will do it in an unconventional manner.

That is why today we bring to you Lucius Tarquinius Superbus the final King of Rome!Tarquinius-Superbus

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary 7th Roman King, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus (Latin for “proud, arrogant, lofty”).

Ancient accounts of the regal period mingle history and legend. Tarquin was said to have been the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the 5th King of Rome.

The ProudSuperbus is said to have gained the throne through the murders of both his wife and his elder brother, followed by the assassination of his predecessor, Servius Tullius. His reign has been described as a tyranny that justified the abolition of the monarchy.

Tarquin was the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and Tanaquil. Tanaquil had engineered her husband’s succession to the Roman kingdom on the death of Ancus Marcius.

When the sons of Marcius arranged the elder Tarquin’s assassination in 579 BC, Tanaquil placed Servius Tullius on the throne, in preference to her own sons. According to an Etruscan tradition, the hero Macstarna, usually equated with Servius Tullius, defeated and killed a Roman named Gnaeus Tarquinius, and rescued the brothers Caelius and Aulus Vibenna. This may recollect an otherwise forgotten attempt by the sons of Tarquin the elder to reclaim the throne.

To forestall further dynastic strife, Tullius married off his daughters, Tullia Major and Tullia Minor, to future king Lucius Tarquinius and his brother Arruns. Their sister, Tarquinia, married Marcus Junius Brutus, and was the mother of Lucius Junius Brutus.

The elder Tullia was of mild disposition, yet married the ambitious Lucius Tarquinius. Her younger sister was of fiercer temperament, but her husband Arruns was not and she came to despise him because of it.Accepts Glory

The younger Tullia conspired with his brother to bring about the deaths of the elder sister and younger brother. After the murder of their siblings, Lucius and Tullia were married.

Together, they had 3 sons: TitusArruns, and Sextus, and a daughter, Tarquinia, who married Octavius Mamilius, the prince of Tusculum.

Tullia encouraged her husband to advance his own position, ultimately persuading him to usurp the throne. Tarquin solicited the support of the Patrician Senators, especially those from families who had received their rank under Tarquin the Elder.

Superbus bestowed presents upon them, and spread criticism of Servius the King. In time, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus felt ready to seize the throne.

He went to the Curia Hostilia (Senate-House) with a group of armed men, sat himself on the throne, and summoned the Senators to attend upon King Tarquin. He then spoke to the Senators while belittling Servius.

Superbus demeaned Servius as being a slave born of a slave; for failing to be elected by the Senate and the people during an Interregnum, as had been the tradition for the election of Kings of Rome; for being gifted the throne by a woman; for favoring the lower classes of Rome over the wealthy; for taking the land of the upper classes for distribution to the poor; and for instituting the census so that the wealth of the upper classes might be exposed in order to excite popular envy.

When word of this brazen deed reached Servius, he hurried to the Curia to confront Tarquin. Servius then leveled the same accusations against his father-in-law, and then carried the King outside and flung him down the steps of the Senate-House and into the street.

The King’s retainers fled, leaving the elder ruler dazed and unattended. As he managed his way toward the palace, the aged Servius was set upon and murdered by Tarquin’s assassins.

Senate HouseTullia, meanwhile, drove in her chariot to the Curia Hostilia, where she was the first to hail her husband as King. But Tarquin bade her return home, concerned that the crowd might do her violence.

As she drove toward the Urbian Hill her driver stopped suddenly, horrified at the sight of the King’s body lying in the street. In a frenzy, Tullia seized the reins herself and drove the wheels of her chariot over her father’s corpse.

The King’s blood spattered against the chariot and stained Tullia’s clothes, so that she brought a gruesome relic of the murder back to her house. The street where Tullia disgraced the dead King afterward became known as the Vicus Sceleratus (Street of Crime).

Tarquin commenced his reign by refusing to bury the dead Servius. He then put to death a number of leading Senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius.

By not replacing the slain Senators, and not consulting the Senate on matters of government, Superbus diminished both the size and the authority of the Senate. In another break with tradition, Tarquin judged capital crimes without the advice of counselors, causing fear amongst those who might think to oppose him.Tarquinius_Superbus_makes_himself_King

He made a powerful ally when he betrothed his daughter to Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, among the most eminent of the Latin chiefs.

Early in his reign, Tarquin called a meeting of the Latin leaders to discuss the bonds between Rome and the Latin towns. The meeting was held at a grove sacred to the goddess Ferentina.

At the meeting, Turnus Herdonius inveighed against the Tarquin’s arrogance, and warned his countrymen against trusting the Roman King. Tarquin then bribed Turnus’ servant to store a large number of swords in his master’s lodging.

Tarquin called together the Latin leaders, and accused Turnus of plotting his assassination. The Latin leaders accompanied Tarquin to Turnus’ lodging and, the swords then being discovered, the Latin’s guilt was then speedily inferred.

Turnus was condemned to be thrown into a pool of water in the grove, with a cratis (wooden frame) placed over his head, into which stones were thrown, drowning him. The meeting of the Latin chiefs then continued, and Tarquin persuaded them to renew their treaty with Rome.

Superbus suggested it better to be Rome’s allies rather than her enemies. It was agreed that the soldiers of the Latins would attend at the grove on an appointed day, and form a united military force with the Roman Army.

Next, Tarquin instigated a war against the Volsci by taking the wealthy town of Suessa Pometia. He celebrated a triumph, and with the spoils of this conquest, he commenced the erection of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which Tarquin the Elder had vowed.City_of_Rome_during_time_of_republic

Up next was a war with Gabii, one of the Latin cities that had rejected the treaty with Rome. Unable to take the city by force of arms, Tarquin resorted to another stratagem.

His son Sextus, pretending to be ill-treated by his father, fled to Gabii covered with the bloody marks of stripes. The infatuated inhabitants entrusted him with the command of their troops, and when he had obtained the unlimited confidence of the citizens, he sent a messenger to his father to inquire how he should deliver the city into his hands.

Receiving the LaurelThe Roman King made no reply while walking in his garden, but kept striking off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick. Sextus took the hint, and put to death, or banished on false charges, all the leading men of Gabii, after which he had no difficulty in compelling the city to submit.

Tarquin agreed upon a peace with the Aequi, and renewed the treaty of peace between Rome and the Etruscans. According to the Fasti Triumphales, he won a victory over the Sabines, and established Roman colonies at the towns of Signia and Circeii.

At Rome, Superbus leveled the top of the Tarpeian Rock, overlooking the Forum, and removed a number of ancient Sabine shrines, in order to make way for the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. He constructed tiers of seats in the circus, and ordered the excavation of Rome’s great sewer, the Cloaca Maxima.Map_of_downtown_Rome_Cloaca Maxima

According to one story, Tarquin was approached by the Cumaean Sibyl, who offered him 9 books of prophecy at an exorbitant price. Tarquin abruptly refused, and the Sibyl proceeded to burn 3 of them.

She then offered him the remaining books, but at the same price. He hesitated, but refused again.

The Sibyl then burned 3 more books before offering him the 3 remaining books at the original price. At last Tarquin accepted, in this way obtaining the Sibylline Books.Erythraean Sibyl by Michelangelo

In 509 BC, having angered the Roman populace through the pace and burden of constant building, Tarquin embarked on a campaign against the Rutuli. At that time, the Rutuli were a very wealthy nation, and Tarquin was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory, in hopes of assuaging the ire of his subjects.

Failing to take their capital of Ardea by storm, the King determined to take the city by siege. With little prospect of battle on the horizon, the young noblemen in the King’s Army fell into drinking and boasting while falling out of fighting shape.

Jacques-Louis_David,_Le_Serment_des_HoracesAs Tribune of the Celeres, Brutus was head of the King’s personal bodyguard, and entitled to summon the Roman comitia. This he did, and by recounting the various grievances of the people, the King’s abuses of power, and by inflaming public sentiment with the tale of the rape of Lucretia, Brutus persuaded the comitia to revoke the King’s Imperium and send him into exile.

Tullia fled the city in fear of the mob, while Sextus Tarquinius, his deed revealed, fled to Gabii, where he hoped for the protection of the Roman garrison. However, his previous conduct there had made him many enemies, and he was soon assassinated.

In place of the King, the Comitia Centuriata resolved to electCenturiate_AssemblyConsuls to hold power jointly. Lucretius, the Prefect of the City, presided over the election of the original Consuls, Brutus and Collatinus.

When word of the uprising reached the King, Superbus abandoned Ardea and sought support from his allies in Etruria. The cities of Veii and Tarquinii sent contingents to join the King’s Army, and he prepared to march upon Rome.

Brutus, meanwhile, prepared a force to meet the returning army. In a surprising reversal, Brutus demanded that his colleague, Collatinus, resign the consulship and go into exile, because he bore the hated name of Tarquinius.

Stunned by this betrayal, Collatinus complied, and his father-in-law was chosen to succeed him. Meanwhile, the King sent ambassadors to the Senate, ostensibly to request the return of his personal property, but in reality to subvert a number of Rome’s leading men.

When this plot was discovered, those found guilty were put to death by the Consuls. Brutus was forced to condemn to death his 2 sons, Titus and Tiberius, who had taken part in the conspiracy.

Battle of Silva ArsiaLeaving Lucretius in charge of the city, Brutus departed to meet the King upon the field of battle. At the Battle of Silva Arsia, the Romans won a hard-fought victory over the King and his Etruscan allies.

Each side sustained painful losses. The Consul Brutus and his cousin, Arruns Tarquinius, fell in battle against each other.

After this failure, Tarquin turned to Lars Porsena, the king of Clusium. Porsena’s march on Rome and the valiant defense of the Romans achieved legendary status, giving rise to the story of Horatius at the bridge, and the bravery of Gaius Mucius Scaevola.

Accounts vary as to whether Porsena finally entered Rome, or was thwarted, but modern scholarship suggests that he was able to occupy the city briefly before withdrawing. In any case, his efforts were of no avail to the exiled Roman King.

Tarquin’s final attempt to regain the Roman Kingdom came in 498 or 496 BC, when he persuaded his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, Dictator of Tusculum, to march on Rome at the head of a Latin army. The Roman Army was led by the Dictator, Albus Postumius Albus, and his Master of the HorseTitus Aebutius Elva, while the elderly King Superbus and his last remaining son, Titus Tarquinius, accompanied by a force of Roman exiles, fought alongside the Latins.

Battle of Lake RegillusThe Battle of Lake Regillus was hard fought and narrowly decided, with both sides suffering great losses. Mamilius was slain, the Master of the Horse grievously injured, and Titus Tarquinius barely escaped with his life. But in the end, the Latins abandoned the field and Rome retained her independence.

After the Latin defeat and the death of his son-in-law, Tarquin went to the court of Aristodemus at Cumae, where he died in 495 BC. Tarquin is mentioned by William Shakespeare in his plays, Titus AndronicusJulius CaesarMacbeth, and Cymbeline.

In 1765, Patrick Henry gave a speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, in opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. Toward the end of his speech, he inserted as a rhetorical flourish, a comparison between King George III and various historical figures who were brought low by their enemies, including Charles ICaesar, and in some accounts of the speech, Tarquin.

1Having the luxury of seeing Rome’s history upon the collapse of its Kingdom, and give birth to the Republic and Empire, we could claim she was better off for it. At the time it may not have seemed as such since there were quite a few civil wars during the Republic.

When all is said and done, and the dust has settled, we can conclude that Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was without a doubt the last King of Rome. We hope you enjoyed taking that journey with us today and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Chisholm, Hugh, ed. “Tarquinius Superbus, Lucius“. Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 (11th ed). Cambridge University Press, 1911.

Titus LiviusAb Urbe Condita.

Gaius Plinius SecundusHistoria Naturalis xiii. 88.

Arch of Septimius Severus – Rome (#26)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #27 – The Roman Theatre of Orange.

Today we’re headed to Gallia to bring to you #26 – the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome!Stairway

At the northwest end of the Roman Forum is a white marble triumphal arch dedicated in AD 203. The Arch of Septimius Severus is to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his 2 sons, Caracalla and Geta, in the 2 campaigns against the Parthians of AD 194/195 and 197-199.RomanForum

The arch was raised on a travertine base originally approached by steps from the Forum’s ancient level. The central archway, spanned by a richly coffered semicircular vault, has lateral openings to each side archway, a feature copied in many Early Modern triumphal arches.

The Arch stands close to the foot of the Capitoline Hill. The Arch measures about 25 yards high, 27 yards wide and 13 yards deep.

The 3 archways rest on piers, in front of which are detached composite columns on pedestals. Winged Victories are carved in relief in the spandrels.

A staircase in the south pier leads to the top of the monument, on which were statues of the Emperor and his 2 sons in a Quadriga (4-horse Chariot), accompanied by soldiers. A flight of steps originally led to the central opening, as one still does to the Arch of Trajan at Ancona.Reconstruction

The dedicatory inscription on the Arch reads:


Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) Lucio Septimio M(arci) fil(io) Severo Pio Pertinaci Aug(usto) patri patriae Parthico Arabico et Parthico Adiabenico pontific(i) maximo tribunic(ia) potest(ate) XI imp(eratori) XI, co(n)s(uli) III proco(n)s(uli) et imp(eratori) Caes(ari) M(arco) Aurelio L(ucii) fil(io) Antonino Aug(usto) Pio Felici tribunic(ia) potest(ate) VI co(n)s(uli) proco(n)s(uli) (p(atri) p(atriae) optimis fortissimisque principibus) ob rem publicam restitutam imperiumque populi Romani propagatum insignibus virtutibus eorum domi forisque S(enatus) P(opulus) Q(ue) R(omanus).Àðêà Ñåïòèìèÿ Ñåâåðà. Âèä ñ Êàïèòîëèÿ.

In English:

“To the Emperor Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus Parthicus Arabicus Parthicus Adiabenicus, son of Marcus, father of his country, pontifex maximus, in the eleventh year of his tribunician power, in the eleventh year of his rule, consul thrice, and proconsul, and to the emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus Pius Felix, son of Lucius, in the sixth year of his tribunician power, consul, and proconsul (fathers of their country, the best and bravest emperors), on account of the restored republic and the rule of the Roman people spread by their outstanding virtues at home and abroad, the Senate and the People of Rome (sc. dedicate this monument)”

Septimius Severus was ruling jointly as Emperor with his son Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) when the Arch was dedicated. The parenthesized section in the middle is text that replaced an original reference to his other son Geta, which was chiseled out upon Geta’s damnatio memoriae by Caracalla.

Relief PanelAfter the death of Septimius Severus, his sons Caracalla and Geta ruled jointly. Caracalla had Geta assassinated in AD 212, and accordingly any images or memorials of Geta were destroyed. Since all images or mentions of Geta were removed from public buildings and monuments, Geta’s image and inscriptions referring to him were removed from the Arch.

By the 4th Century erosion had raised the level of the Forum so much that a roadway was put through the Arch for the first time. So much debris and silt eroded from the surrounding hills that the Arch was embedded to the base of the columns.

Canaletto_Arch_of_Septimius_SeverusDuring the Middle Ages repeated flooding of the low-lying Forum washed in so much additional sediment and debris that when Canaletto painted it in 1742, only the upper half of the Arch showed above ground. The well-preserved condition of the Arch owes a good deal to its having been incorporated into the structure of a Christian church, given 1199 by Pope Innocent III to the church of Ss. Sergio and Bacco.

Half the Arch belonged to the Cimini family, who are also attributed for the preservation of the structure (Claustrum Cimini). The stronghold included a tower placed on top of the Arch itself.Arches

When the church was re-founded elsewhere, the Arch remained ecclesiastical property and was not demolished for other construction. The damage wrought by wheeled medieval and early modern traffic can still be seen on the column bases, above the bas-reliefs of the socles.Plan

We always enjoy a trip into Rome, and we hope you did as well. Come back soon for another adventure or just to see what we have in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Brilliant, Richard. The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum. 1963.

Arcus Septimii Severi”. Platner’s Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

Arch of Severus

Detailed description of the Arch, inscription and base reliefs.

Boudica: From Roman Client to Enemy of the State

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Whenever we can we like to share lives of Roman Women or women living in the Roman Empire. You may not think this is such a big deal, but history says otherwise.

Like many other people of the time, the Ancient Romans were a patriarchal society. Since Rome was a male dominated society not much attention was paid to women in general, so only those that stood out from the crowd received any acknowledgement (good or bad).

Keeping that in mind, today we are going to explore the life of the queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe – Boudica!1

Tacitus and Cassius Dio agree that Boudica was of royal descent. Dio describes her as “possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” He also describes her as tall, with tawny hair hanging down to below her waist, a harsh voice and a piercing glare. He notes that she habitually wore a large golden necklace (perhaps a Torc), a colorful tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.

Boudicca’s husband, Prasutagus, was the king of the Iceni, a people who inhabited roughly what is now Norfolk. The Iceni initially voluntarily allied with Rome following Claudius’s conquest of Southern Britain AD 43.

They were proud of their independence, and had revolted in AD 47 when the then Roman Governor Publius Ostorius Scapula planned to disarm all the peoples in the area of Britannia under Roman control following a number of local uprisings. Ostorius defeated them and went on to put down other uprisings around Britain, but the Iceni remained independent.

Prasutagus CoinTacitus first mentioned Prasutagus when he wrote about Boudica’s rebellion. We do not know whether he became the king before or after the aforementioned defeat of the Iceni. We do not have any record as to whether the Iceni at that point were still Roman allies or had become a client kingdom.

We do know that Boudica’s husband Prasutagus ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome in Britannia. In his will, Prasutagus left his kingdom jointly to both his daughters and the Roman Emperor, who at the time was Nero.

However, when he died his will was ignored, and the kingdom was annexed solely to the Empire since women could not hold property according to Roman Law. Boudica was flogged, her daughters raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.Demise

It was not explained why the Romans pillaged the kingdom, why they took the lands of the chiefs or why Boudica was flogged and her daughters were raped. All that history has recorded was the decision of the Procurator of Britannia (the Chief Financial Officer) and Seneca (an advisor of the Emperor Nero) to call in Prasutagus’ debts and that harsh measures were taken to collect them.

In AD 60 or 61, while the Roman GovernorGaius Suetonius Paulinus, was leading a campaign against the island of Mona (modern Anglesey) in the north of Wales, which was a refuge for British rebels and a stronghold of the druids. It was at this point that the Iceni conspired with their neighbors the Trinovantes, amongst others, to revolt.

2Boudica was chosen as their leader. According to Tacitus, they drew inspiration from the example of Arminius, the prince of the Cherusci who had driven the Romans out of Germany in AD 9, and their own ancestors who had driven Julius Caesar from Britain.

Dio says that at the outset Boudica employed a form of divination, releasing a hare from the folds of her dress and interpreting the direction in which it ran, and invoked Andraste, a British goddess of Victory.

They destroyed Camulodunum (modern Colchester), earlier the capital of the Trinovantes but at that time a colonia. The Roman veterans who had been settled there mistreated the locals and a temple to the former Emperor Claudius had been erected there at local expense, making the city a focus for resentment.

The Roman inhabitants sought reinforcements from the Procurator, Catus Decianus, but he sent only 200 auxiliary troops. Boudica’s army fell on the poorly defended city and destroyed it, besieging the last defenders in the temple for 2 days before it fell.

boudica_camulodunumArchaeologists have shown that the city was methodically demolished. The future Governor Quintus Petillius Cerialis, then commanding the Legio IX Hispana, attempted to relieve the city, but suffered an overwhelming defeat. His infantry was wiped out with only the commander and some of the cavalry having escaped.

Upon hearing of the revolt, Suetonius hurried to Londinium (modern London). This 20-year-old commercial settlement that was the rebels’ next target.

The Romans, having concluded that they lacked sufficient numbers to defend the settlement, evacuated and abandoned Londinium. Boudica led 100,000 Iceni, Trinovantes, and others to fight the Legio IX Hispana, and burned and destroyed Londinium and Verulamium (modern-day St Albans).

Archaeology shows a thick red layer of burnt debris covering coins and pottery dating before AD 60 within the bounds of Roman Londinium. Roman-era skulls found in the Walbrook in 2013 were potentially linked to victims of the rebels.

While Boudica’s army continued their assault in Verulamium (St. Albans), Suetonius regrouped his forces. According to Tacitus, he amassed a force including his own Legio XIV Gemina, some vexillationes (detachments) of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix, and any available auxiliaries.

An estimated 70,000–80,000 Romans and British were killed in the three cities by those led by Boudica. Suetonius, meanwhile, regrouped his forces in the West Midlands, and, despite being heavily outnumbered, defeated the Britons in the Battle of Watling Street.Battle of Watling Street

Dio says that, even if the Romans were lined up one deep, they would not have extended the length of Boudica’s line. By now the rebel forces were said to have numbered 230,000.

Boudica exhorted her troops from her chariot, her daughters beside her. Tacitus gives her a short speech in which she presents herself not as an aristocrat avenging her lost wealth, but as an ordinary person, avenging her lost freedom, her battered body, and the abused chastity of her daughters.Boadicea_and_her_army

She said their cause was just, and the deities were on their side; the one legion that had dared to face them had been destroyed. She, a woman, was resolved to win or die; if the men wanted to live in slavery, that was their choice.

According to Tacitus in his Annals, Boudica poisoned herself, though in the Agricola which was written almost 20 years prior he mentions nothing of suicide and attributes the end of the revolt to socordia (indolence). Dio says she fell sick and died and then was given a lavish burial, though this may be a convenient way to remove her from the story.

The location of Boudica’s defeat is unknown, though most historians favor a site somewhere along the Roman road now known as Watling Street. A site close to High Cross in Leicestershire, on the junction of Watling Street and the Fosse Way, which would have allowed the Legio II Augusta, based at Exeter, to rendezvous with the rest of Suetonius’s forces, had they not failed to do so.

Manduessedum (Mancetter), near the modern town of Atherstone in Warwickshire, has also been suggested, as has “The Rampart” near Messing in Essex, according to legend. More recently, a discovery of Roman artefacts in Kings Norton close to Metchley Camp has suggested another possibility.

The crisis caused Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from Britannia, but Suetonius’ eventual victory over Boudica confirmed Roman control of the province. Boudica then either killed herself to avoid capture, or died of illness.

Gildas, in his 6th Century De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, may have been alluding to Boudica when he wrote “A treacherous lioness boudica_by_dashinvainebutchered the governors who had been left to give fuller voice and strength to the endeavors of Roman rule”.

By the Middle Ages Boudica was forgotten. She makes no appearance in Bede‘s work, the Historia Brittonum, the Mabinogion or Geoffrey of Monmouth‘s History of the Kings of Britain.

But the rediscovery of the works of Tacitus during the Renaissance allowed Polydore Vergil to reintroduce her into British history as “Voadicea” in 1534. Raphael Holinshed also included her story in his Chronicles (1577), based on Tacitus and Dio, and inspired Shakespeare’s younger contemporaries Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher to write a play, Bonduca, in 1610.

William Cowper‘s poem Boadicea, an ode (1782) popularized an alternative version of the name. From the 19th Century and much of the late 20th Century, Boadicea was the most common version of the name, which is probably derived from a mistranscription when a manuscript of Tacitus was copied in the Middle Ages.

Her name was clearly spelled Boudicca in the best manuscripts of Tacitus, but also several other variations in the later, and probably secondary, Epitome of Cassius Dio. The name is attested in inscriptions as Boudica in Lusitania, Boudiga in Bordeaux, and Bodicca in Algeria.

The closest English equivalent to the vowel in the first syllable is the ow in “bow-and-arrow”. The modern English pronunciation is Bu-dika, and it has been suggested that the most comparable English name, in meaning only, would be “Victoria”.

It was in the Victorian era that Boudica’s fame took on legendary proportions as Queen Victoria came to be seen as Boudica’s “namesake”, their names being identical in meaning. Victoria’s Poet LaureateAlfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote a poem, “Boadicea”, and several ships were named after her.

She has also appeared in several comic book series, including:

  • Sláine, which featured two runs, titled “Demon Killer” and “Queen Boodikkaof Witches” giving a free interpretation of Boudica’s story;
  • Other comic appearances include Witchblade;
  • The DC Comics character Boodikka, a member of the Green Lantern Corps, was named after Boudica.

Boudica has been the subject of multiple films:

Civilization V - Gods & KingsA History Channel documentary was made in 2006 entitled Warrior Queen – Boudica. In the video games Civilization IICivilization IV: Beyond the Sword and Civilization V: Gods & Kings, Boudicca is leader of the Celtic tribe.

Boudica appears in in the heavily fictionalized 2013 video game Ryse: Son of Rome (2013), the mobile game Fate/Grand Order (2015), and the real-time strategy mobile game World of Warriors.

Boudicca is also a character in the animated series Gargoyles. She was the subject of a 1978 British TV series, Warrior Queen, starring Siân Phillips as Boudica.

The British television series Bonekickers, dedicated an hour to Boudica in the episode named “The Eternal Fire” (July 2008). Jennifer Ward-Lealand portrayed Boudica in an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess titled “The Deliverer” (1997).Bonekickers The Eternal Fire

Martha Howe-Douglas and Lorna Watson played Boudica in Horrible Histories. Kirsty Mitchell played Boudica in an episode of the History Channel’s Barbarians Rising series titled “Revenge” (2016).

boudicca statueA statue of Boudica with her daughters in her war chariot (a historically furnished with scythes after the Persian fashion) was executed by Thomas Thornycroft over the 1850s and 1860s with the encouragement of Prince Albert, who lent his horses for use as models. It was cast in bronze in 1902, 17 years after Thornycroft’s death, by his son Sir John, who presented it to the London County Council.Boudiccastatue

They erected it on a plinth on the Victoria Embankment next to Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, inscribed with the following lines from Cowper’s poem:

Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway.

Ironically, the great anti-imperialist rebel was now identified with the head of the British Empire, and her statue stood guard over the city she razed to the ground.

ENG151196034  01Whether you look upon her as a hero to her people, or a villain of Rome, Boudica is part of Roman History. Her legacy, even as a woman, is known thanks to the Romans who chose to impart on her a lasting legacy.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again. Be sure to check us out again soon for we never know what’s in store for you, the reader.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Aldhouse-Green, M. Boudica Britannia: Rebel, War-Leader and Queen. Pearson Longman, 2006.

Böckl, Manfred. The Last Queen of the Celts. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 2005.

Cassius Dio CocceianusDio’s Roman History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Collingridge, Vanessa. Boudica. London: Ebury, 2004.

de la Bédoyère, Guy. “Bleeding from the Roman Rods: Boudica”. Defying Rome: The Rebels of Roman Britain. Tempus: Stroud, 2003.

Dudley, Donald R; Webster, Graham. The Rebellion of Boudicca. London: Routledge, 1962.

Fraser, Antonia. The Warrior Queens. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

Godsell, Andrew. “Boadicea: A Woman’s Resolve”. Legends of British History. Wessex Publishing, 2008.

Hingley, Richard; Unwin, Christina. Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen. Hambledon and London, 2004.

Roesch, Joseph E. Boudica, Queen of The Iceni. London: Robert Hale Ltd, 2006.

Tacitus, Cornelius. Tacitus on Britain and Germany. H. Mattingly trans. London: Penguin, 1948.

Tacitus, Cornelius. The Annals of Imperial Rome. M. Grant trans. London: Penguin, 1989.

Taylor, John. Tacitus and the Boudican Revolt. Dublin: Camvlos, 1998.

Webster, Graham. Boudica. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1978.

Constantine the Great and Christianity

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Of the reasons the Roman Empire endured as long as it did, there are 2 things that stand out. The Romans knew relied heavily upon tradition and history, but they were also able to adapt and incorporate new ideas or concepts into their lives.

The idea of tradition and incorporating something new into said tradition in a single moment can be shown with Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and Christianity.Constantine at York

While Emperor Constantine reigned (306–337 AD), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine’s reasons for favoring Christianity, but theologians and historians have argued about which form of Early Christianity he subscribed to.

There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena‘s Christianity in his youth, or (as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea) encouraged her to convert to the faith himself. Some scholars question the extent to which he should be considered a Christian Emperor.

“Constantine saw himself as an ‘Emperor of the Christian people’. If this made him a Christian is the subject of … debate.”, although he allegedly received a baptism shortly before his death.

Galerius_Edict_Sofia_PlaqueConstantine’s decision to cease the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was a turning point for Early Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Triumph of the Church, the Peace of the Church or the Constantinian Shift. In AD 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship.

The Emperor became a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor within the Church and the notion of orthodoxyChristendomecumenical councils and the state church of the Roman Empire declared in AD 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica. He is revered as a Saint and Aequalis Apostolis in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church for his example as a “Christian monarch”.

The first recorded official persecution of Christians on behalf of the Roman Empire was in AD 64, when, as reported by the Roman historian Tacitus, Emperor Nero attempted to blame Christians for the Great Fire of Rome. According to Church tradition, it was during the reign of Nero that Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome.The Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul

Modern historians have debated whether the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva‘s modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in AD 96. It was at this point which practicing Jews paid the tax and Christians did not.

Christians suffered from sporadic and localized persecutions over a period of 250 years. Their refusal to participate in Imperial Cult was considered an act of treason and was thus punishable by execution.

The most widespread official persecution was carried out by Diocletian. During the Great Persecution (AD 303–311), the Emperor ordered Christian buildings and the homes of Christians torn down and their sacred books collected and burned.The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

Christians were arrested, tortured, mutilated, burned, starved, and condemned to gladiatorial contests to amuse spectators. The Great Persecution officially ended in April 311 AD, when Galerius, Senior Emperor of the Tetrarchy, issued an Edict of Toleration granting Christians the right to practice their religion, though it did not restore any property to them.

Constantine, Caesar in the Western Empire and Licinius, Caesar in the East, also were signatories to the Edict of Toleration. It has been speculated that Galerius’ reversal of his long-standing policy of Christian persecution has been attributable to one or both of these co-Caesares.

No matter if Constantine’s mother, Helena, exposed him to Christianity or not, he only declared himself a Christian after issuing the Edict of Milan. Writing to Christians, Constantine made clear that he believed that he owed his successes the protection of that High God alone.

Eusebius of Caesarea and other Christian sources record that Constantine experienced a constantines-visiondramatic event in AD 312 at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, after which Constantine claimed the emperorship in the West. According to these sources, Constantine looked up to the sun before the battle and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα (In this sign, conquer!), often rendered in a Latin version, In hoc signo vinces (In this sign, you will conquer).

chi_rhoConstantine commanded his troops to adorn their shields with a Christian symbol (the Chi-Rho) to distinguish them from the Roman soldiers of Maxentius. Thereafter, Constantine’s soldiers with the sign of God were victorious.

Following the battle, the new Emperor ignored the altars to the gods prepared on the Capitoline Hill and did not carry out the customary sacrifices to celebrate a General’s victorious entry into Rome. Constantine instead headed directly to the imperial palace to give thanks there.

Most influential people in the Empire had not been converted to Christianity and still participated in the traditional religions of Rome, so his actions were looked upon with hesitation. Constantine’s rule exhibited at least a willingness to appease these factions.

The Roman coins minted up to 8 years after the battle still bore the images of Roman gods. The monuments first commissioned by Constantine, such as the Arch of Constantine, contained no reference to Christianity.arch-of-constantine

In AD 313, Constantine and Licinius announced “that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best”. A tolerance was thereby granted to all religions, including Christianity.

The Edict of Milan went a step further than the earlier Edict of Toleration by Galerius in AD 311, returning property which had been confiscated back to the Church. This edict made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship.

constantine_the_great edict of milanFor the first time in Rome’s history neither the traditional religions nor Christianity were the state religion, there was simply religious tolerance. The Edict of Milan did, however, raise the stock of Christianity within the Empire and it reaffirmed the importance of religious worship to the welfare of the state.

The accession of Constantine was a turning point for Early Christianity. After his victory, Constantine took over the role of patron of the Christian faith.

He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g., exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices, returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian, and endowed the Church with land and other wealth.Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Between AD 324 and 330, Constantine built a new imperial capital at Byzantium on the Bosporos, which would be named Constantinople for him. Unlike “old” Rome, the city began to employ overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls and had no pre-existing temples from other religions.

In doing this, however, Constantine required those who had not converted to Christianity to pay for the new city. Christian chroniclers tell that it appeared necessary to Constantine “to teach his subjects to give up their rites (…) and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein.”

This led to the closure of temples because of a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure. Constantine did not need to use force to implement this action however.

Constantine-the-Great-christianityMany times imperial favor was granted to Christianity by the Edict. New avenues were opened to Christians, including the right to compete with other Romans in the traditional Cursus Honorum for high government positions, and greater acceptance into general civil society.

Constantine respected cultivated persons, and his court was composed of older, respected, and honored men. Although denied positions of power, men from leading Roman families who declined to convert to Christianity still received appointments and held 2/3 of the top cabinet positions.

Constantine’s laws enforced and reflected his Christian attitudes. Crucifixion was abolished for reasons of Christian piety, but was replaced with hanging, to demonstrate the preservation of Roman supremacy.

On 7 March 321 AD, Sunday, already sacred to Christians and to the Roman Sun God Sol Invictus, was declared an official day of rest. On that day markets were banned and public offices were closed, except for the purpose of freeing slaves.

There were, however, no restrictions on performing farming work on Sundays. This was the work of the great majority of the population anyhow, so it did not sense to cease this work.

Some laws made during the reign of Constantine were even humane in the modern sense, possibly inspired by his Christianity. For example, a prisoner was no longer to be kept in total darkness but must be given the outdoors and daylight; and a condemned man was allowed to die in the arena, but he could not be branded on his “heavenly beautified” face, since God was supposed to have made man in his image, but only on the feet.emperor

In AD 331, Constantine commissioned Eusebius to deliver 50 Bibles for the Church of ConstantinopleAthanasius recorded around AD 340 Alexandrian scribes preparing Bibles for Constans.

It has been speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta and Codex Alexandrinus, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles.

The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor in the Church. Emperors considered

themselves responsible to the gods for the spiritual health of their subjects, and after Constantine they had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy.

The Church generally regarded the definition of doctrine as the responsibility of the Bishops, along with what proper worship (orthodoxy), doctrines and dogma consisted of. It was the Emperor’s role to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, uphold ecclesiastical unity, and ensure that God was properly worshiped in his Empire.

Constantine had become a worshiper of the Christian God, but he found that there were many opinions on that worship and indeed on who and what that God was. In AD 316, Constantine was asked to adjudicate in a North African dispute between the Donatist sect.

Council of NicaeaMore significantly, in AD 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea. This was the foremost Ecumenical Council, unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified.

The Council of Nicaea is the first major attempt by Christians to define orthodoxy for the whole Church. Until Nicaea, all previous Church Councils had been local or regional synods affecting only portions of the Church.

Nicaea dealt primarily with the Arian controversy. Constantine himself was torn between the Arian and Trinitarian camps.

After the Nicene council, and against its conclusions, Constantine eventually recalled Arius from exile. He then subsequently banished Athanasius of Alexandria to Trier.

Just before his death in May 337 AD, Constantine was baptized into Christianity. Up until this time he had been a Catechumen for most of his adult life.

He believed that if he waited to get baptized on his death bed he was in less danger of polluting his soul with sin and not getting to heaven. He was baptized by an Arian sympathizer, but this was a result of attempting to create reconciliation in the Church, not acceptance of Arianism.

He was baptized by his distant relative Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. During Eusebius of Nicomedia’s time in the Imperial court, the Eastern court and the major positions in the Eastern Church were held by Arians or Arian sympathizers.

With the exception of a short period of eclipse, Eusebius enjoyed the complete confidence both of Constantine and Constantius II and was the tutor of Emperor Julian the Apostate. After Constantine’s death, his son and successor Constantius II was an Arian, as was Emperor Valens.

Constantine’s position on the religions traditionally practiced in Rome evolved during his reign. At first Constantine encouraged the construction of new temples and tolerated traditional sacrifices, but by the end of his reign he had begun to order the plundering and tearing down of Roman temples.

Beyond the limes, east of the Euphrates, the Sassanid rulers of the Persian Empireperennially at war with Rome, had usually tolerated Christianity. Constantine is said to have written to Shapur II in AD 324 and urged him to protect Christians under his rule.

With the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, Christians in Persia would be regarded as allies of Persia’s ancient enemy. According to an anonymous Christian account, Shapur II wrote to his generals:

You will arrest Simon, chief of the Christians. You will keep him until he signs this document and consents to collect for us a double tax and double tribute from the Christians … for Our Godhead have all the trials of war and they have nothing but repose and pleasure. They inhabit our territory and agree with Caesar, our enemy.

— Shapur II, A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500

The “Great Persecution” of the Persian Christian churches occurred between AD 340-363, after the Persian Wars that reopened upon Constantine’s death.

Constantinian Shift is a term used by Anabaptist and Post-Christendom theologians to describe the political and theological aspects of Constantine’s legalization of Christianity in the 4th Century. The term was popularized by the Mennonite theologian John H. Yoder.Baptism of Constantine by Raphael

Previously we have shared more on the life of Constantine, but you can see here that religion was a huge impact on his life. That the religion of Constantine was Christianity was simply another way in establishing this new religion for centuries to come.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again. Remember to stop on by soon to see what else we have in store for you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Brown, Peter. The Rise of Christendom 2nd edition. Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

Carson, Don A. From Sabbath to Lord’s Day. Wipf & Stock Publishers/Zondervan.

Curran, J.R. Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century. Oxford, 2000.

Drake, H. A. Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Eusebius. Life of Constantine.

Galerius. “Edict of Toleration,” in Documents of the Christian Church (trans. and ed. Henry Bettenson). Oxford University Press, 1963.

MacMullen, Ramsay. Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D. 100-400. Yale University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-300-03642-6.

Miles, Margaret Ruth. The Word Made Flesh: A History of Christian Thought. Blackwell Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-4051-0846-0.

Moffett, Samuel H. A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500. Orbis Books, 1992.

Norwich, John Julius. A Short History of Byzantium. Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. ISBN 0-679-77269-3.

Rome: The Foundation of a Legend

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

There is truly a ton of information to discuss and share concerning Rome and its place in history. From the Founding of Rome to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rome has impacted and influenced the known world.

Whether it is through archaeology and tangible objects, or it is by legend and mythology, Rome is more than just a city. Rome has become an ideal, a concept, which is still very much at the forefront of today’s intellectuals.

With this is mind, today we are exploring the foundation of Rome!Discovery

Although the founding of Rome can be investigated through archaeology, the traditional stories have been handed down by the Ancient Romans themselves. These stories explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth.

The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a She-Wolf. This story had to be reconciled with a dual tradition, set earlier in time, the one that had the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape to Italy and found the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.Capitoline Wolf

According to Roman tradition, of which Livy‘s account is now the earliest to survive in full, Romulus and Remus were the twin brothers that founded Rome. The story of their birth could be considered that of legend.

The mother of the twins was Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before the conception of the twins, Numitor’s brother Amulius seized power, killed Numitor’s male heirs and forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sworn to chastity.

Legend has it that Rhea Silvia conceived the twins by the god Mars. Once the twins were born, Amulius had them abandoned to die in the Tiber River.

The twins were saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the Tiber carried them to safety, a She-Wolf found and suckled them, and a woodpecker fed them. A shepherd and his wife, Faustulus and Acca Larentia respectively, found them and fostered the twins into manhood as simple shepherds.Faustulus discovers Romulus and Remus

The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, proved to be natural leaders, each acquiring many followers. When they discovered the truth of their birth, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor to his throne.

Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa, they chose to found a new city. While Romulus wanted to found the new city on the Palatine Hill, Remus preferred the Aventine Hill.Seven_Hills_of_Rome

The brothers agreed to determine the site through augury but when each claimed the results in his own favor, they quarreled and Remus was killed. Romulus founded Roma, his new city named after himself, and created its first Legions and Senate.

Rome grew rapidly, swelled by landless refugees. Since most of Rome’s inhabitants were unmarried males, Romulus arranged the abduction of women from the neighboring Sabines.

The ensuing war ended with the joining of Sabines and Romans as one Roman people. Thanks to divine favor and Romulus’s inspired leadership, Rome became a dominant force.

Romulus himself, however, became increasingly autocratic. He disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances.

In later forms of the myth, he ascended to heaven and was identified with Quirinus, the divine personification of the Roman people. The legend as a whole encapsulates Rome’s ideas of itself, its origins and moral values.

For modern scholarship, it remains one of the most complex and problematic of all foundation myths, particularly Remus’s death. Ancient historians had no doubt that Romulus gave his name to the city.Romulus Kills Remus

Most modern historians believe his name a back-formation from the name Rome, while the basis for Remus’s name and role remain subjects of ancient and modern speculation. The myth was fully developed into something like an “official”, chronological version in the Late Republican and early Imperial Era.

Roman historians dated the city’s foundation to between 758 and 728 BC, and Plutarch reckoned the twins’ birth year as circa 27/28 March 771 BC. An earlier tradition that gave Romulus a distant ancestor in the semi-divine Trojan prince Aeneas was further embellished, and Romulus was made the direct ancestor of Rome’s first Imperial Dynasty.Aeneas'_Flight_from_Troy

Possible historical bases for the broad mythological narrative remain unclear and disputed. The image of the She-Wolf suckling the divinely fathered twins became an iconic representation of the city and its founding legend, making Romulus and Remus preeminent among the feral children of ancient mythography.

Modern scholarship approaches the various known stories of Romulus and Remus as cumulative elaborations and later interpretations of Roman foundation-myth. Particular versions and collations were presented by Roman historians as authoritative, an official history trimmed of contradictions and untidy variants to justify contemporary developments, genealogies and actions in relation to Roman morality.

Other narratives appear to represent popular or folkloric tradition. Some of these narratives remain inscrutable in purpose and meaning.

One historian sums the whole story up as the mythography of an unusually problematic foundation and early history. Nevertheless, by the 4th Century BC, the fundamentals of the Romulus and Remus story were standard Roman fare, and by 269 BC the She-Wolf and suckling twins appeared on one of the earliest, if not the earliest issues of Roman silver coinage.

Rome’s foundation story was evidently a matter of national pride. It featured in the earliest known History of Rome, which was attributed to Diocles of Peparethus.Early Rome

The Patrician Senator Quintus Fabius Pictor used Diocles’ as a source for his own history of Rome, now lost but written around the time of the Second Punic War. Its creation was probably intended for circulation among Rome’s Greek-speaking allies.

Fabius’ history provided a basis for the early books of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, which he wrote in Latin. Several Greek-language histories of Rome, including Dionysius of Halicarnassus‘s Roman Antiquities (late 1st Century BC) and Plutarch‘s Life of Romulus (early 2nd Century) were also based from Fabius.

These 3 accounts provide the broad literary basis for studies of Rome’s founding mythography. They have much in common, but each is selective to its purpose.

Livy’s is a dignified handbook, justifying the purpose and morality of Roman traditions observed in his own times. Dionysius and Plutarch approach the same subjects as interested outsiders, and include founder-traditions not mentioned by Livy, untraceable to a common source and probably specific to particular regions, social classes or oral traditions.

A Roman text of the Late Imperial Era, Origo gentis Romanae (The origin of the Roman people) is dedicated to the many “more or less bizarre”, often contradictory variants of Rome’s foundation myth. Some versions include Remus founding a city named Remuria, 5 miles from Rome, and outlives his brother Romulus.

Plutarch presents Romulus’s and Remus’s ancient descent from prince Aeneas, fugitive from Troy after its destruction by the Achaeans. Their maternal grandfather is his descendant Numitor, who inherits the kingship of Alba Longa.Aeneas_and_Turnus

Numitor’s brother Amulius inherits its treasury, including the gold brought by Aeneas from Troy. Amulius uses his control of the treasury to dethrone Numitor, but fears that Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, will bear children who could overthrow him.

Amulius forces Rhea Silvia into perpetual virginity as a Vestal priestess, but she bears children anyway. In one variation of the story, Mars, god of war, seduces and impregnates her, while another version has Amulius himself seduce her, and in yet another, Hercules fathers the twins.

The king sees his niece’s pregnancy and confines her. She gives birth to twin boys of remarkable beauty.

The death of Rhea Silvia and her twins is immediately ordered by her uncle. There are 2 variations of the death sentence, but both means would avoid his direct blood-guilt.

The first account holds that Amulius has Rhea buried alive – the standard punishment for Vestal Virgins who violated their vow of celibacy – and orders the death of the twins by exposure. In another, he has Rhea and her twins thrown into the River Tiber.

In every version a servant is charged with the deed of killing the twins, but cannot bring harm them. The twins are placed in a basket and left on the banks of the Tiber, only to have the river rise and carries them downstream, unharmed.Twins Into Tiber

The river deity Tiberinus makes the basket catch in the roots of a fig tree that grows in the Velabrum swamp at the base of the Palatine Hill. The twins are found and suckled by the She-Wolf (Lupa), fed by a woodpecker (Picus), and then raised as their own children by Faustulus and Acca Larentia.

In another variant, Hercules impregnates Acca Larentia and marries her off to the shepherd Faustulus. Upon the death of another of Acca Larentia’s sons, Romulus takes his place to found the priestly college of Arval brothers Fratres Arvales.

Acca Larentia is therefore identified with the Arval goddess Dea Dia, who is served by the Arvals. In later Republican religious tradition, a Quirinal priest (Flamen) impersonated Romulus (by then deified as Quirinus) to perform funerary rites for his foster mother (identified as Dia).

Another and probably late tradition has Acca Larentia as a sacred prostitute. One of many Roman slangs for prostitute was Lupa (She-Wolf).Acca Larentia

Yet another tradition relates that Romulus and Remus are nursed by the Wolf-Goddess Lupa or Luperca in her cave-lair (Lupercal). Luperca was given a cult in exchange for her protection of sheep from wolves and her spouse was the Wolf-and-Shepherd-God Lupercus, who brought fertility to the flocks.

In all versions of the founding myth, the twins grew up as shepherds. While tending their flocks, they came into conflict with the shepherds of Amulius.

Remus was captured and brought before Amulius, who eventually discovered his identity. Romulus raised a band of shepherds to liberate his brother and Amulius was killed.

Romulus and Remus were conjointly offered the crown but they refused it and restored Numitor to the throne. They left to found their own city, but could not agree on its location.

They agreed to seek the will of the gods in this matter, through augury. Each took position on his respective hill and prepared a sacred space there.

Remus saw 6 auspicious birds; but Romulus saw 12. Romulus claimed superior augury as the divine basis of his right to decide.Twins

Remus made a counterclaim that he saw his 6 vultures first. Romulus set to work with his supporters, digging a trench (or building a wall, according to Dionysius) around the Palatine to define his city boundary.

Livy gave 2 versions of Remus’s death. In the one “more generally received”, Remus criticized and belittled the new wall, and in a final insult to the new city and its founder alike, he leaped over it.

Romulus killed him, saying “So perish every one that shall hereafter leap over my wall”. In the other version Remus was simply stated as dead, no murder was alleged.

Two other, lesser known, accounts have Remus killed by a blow to the head with a spade, wielded either by Romulus’s commander Fabius (according to St. Jerome’s version) or by a man named Celer. Romulus buried Remus with honor and regret.

The Roman Ab Urbe Condita began from the founding of the city, and places that date as 21 April 753 BC. Plutarch says that Romulus was 53 when he “vanished” in 717 BC, which then gives the twins a birth-date in the year 771 BC, and Romulus’s founding of Rome at the age of 18.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus says that Romulus began his reign at 18, ruled for 37 years and died at 55 years old.

Ancient pictures of the Roman twins usually follow certain symbolic traditions, depending on the legend they follow. They either show a shepherd, the She-Wolf, the twins under a fig tree, and 1 or 2 birds; or they depict 2 shepherds, the She-Wolf, the twins in a cave, seldom a fig tree, and never any birds.

The use of Romulus and Remus in modern culture is quite extensive. They are featured in Romolo e Remo, a 1961 film starring Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott as the twins, along with The Rape of the Sabine Women, a 1962 film starring Wolf Ruvinskis as Romulus.

Star TrekIn the Star Trek universe, Romulus and Remus are neighboring planets with Remus being tidally locked to the star. Romulus is the capital of the Romulan Star Empire, which is loosely based on the Roman Empire.

The novel Founding Fathers by Alfred Duggan describes the founding and first decades of Rome from the points of view of Marcus (one of Romulus’s Latin followers), Publius (a Sabine who settles in Rome as part of the peace agreement with Tatius), Perperna (an Etruscan fugitive who is accepted into the tribe of Luceres after his own city is destroyed), and Macro (a Greek seeking purification from blood-guilt who comes to the city in the last years of Romulus’s reign).Founding Fathers by Alfred Duggan

Romulus is portrayed as a gifted leader though a remarkably unpleasant person, chiefly distinguished by his luck. The story of his surreptitious murder by the Senators is adopted, but although the story of his deification is fabricated, his murderers themselves think he may indeed have become a god.

In the game Undead Knights, the main characters are brothers named Romulus and Remus. In the game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Romulus is worshipped as a god by the Followers of Romulus cult.

In Harry Potter, one of the characters is named after Remus (Professor Remus John Lupin). The Professor uses the code name Romulus and is a werewolf, thus reflecting the Remus of Roman mythology of being raised by a wolf.

In the Death Grips song, “Black Quarterback” Romulus and Remus are mentioned. In characteristic Death Grips style, their lyric isn’t contextualized in any typical linear sense.

Ex Deo RomulusEx Deo released an album in 2009 titled Romulus. Its title track concerns the myth of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey to the past to explore the legendary creation of a place that has become synonymous for greatness. Come back soon to see who, what, or where we’ll be exploring.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Albertoni, Margherita, et al. The Capitoline Museums: Guide. Milan: Electa, 2006.

Beard, M.North, J.; and Price, S. Religions of Rome, vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-521-31682-0.

Carandini, Andrea. Rome: Day One. Princeton University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-691-13922-7.

Cornell, T. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000–264 BC). Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Feldherr, Andrew, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Forsythe, Gary. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-520-22651-7.

Livy. The Early History of Rome. Translated by A. de Selincourt.

Momigliano, Arnoldo. The classical foundations of modern historiography. University Presses of California, Columbia and Princeton, 1990.

Plutarch. Romulus. Classics, trans. by John Dryden. MIT.

Raaflaub, Kurt A. Social struggles in archaic Rome: new perspectives on the conflict of the orders. Blackwell Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-1-4051-0060-1.

Wiseman, T. P. Remus: a Roman myth. Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-521-48366-7.

Cleopatra: A Film of Epic Proportions

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

We love movies and television shows as much as the next person, but we drop everything whenever we come across something regarding Ancient Rome. For better or worse, we are going to watch it all so we have a reference for future reviews.

Today we are jetting back to 1963 to see the epic historical drama film, Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor!cleopatra-blu-ray-featured

This American made film chronicles the struggles of Cleopatra VII, the young Queen of Egypt, to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome. It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and co-stars Richard BurtonRex HarrisonRoddy McDowall, and Martin Landau.Versus Image

After the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, where Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) has defeated Pompey the Great in a brutal civil war for control of the Roman Republic, Pompey flees to Egypt, hoping to enlist the support of the young Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O’Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor). Caesar follows Pompey to Egypt, under the pretext of being named the executor of the will of their father, Ptolemy XII.

Much to his dismay, Caesar is given Pompey’s head as a gift. The highly manipulated pharaoh was convinced by his chief eunuch Pothinus (Gregoire Aslan) that this act would endear him to Caesar, but it did exactly the opposite.

As Caesar stays in one of the palaces, a slave named Apollodorus (Cesare Danova) brings him a gift. When the suspicious Caesar unrolls the rug, he finds Cleopatra herself concealed within.

The older Roman is intrigued with the young Egyptian’s beauty and warm personality, and Cleopatra convinces Caesar to restore her throne from her younger brother. Soon after, the young pharaoh has surrounded the palace with Caesar and his soldiers vastly outnumbered.Caesar & Cleopatra

Counterattacking, Caesar orders the Egyptian fleet burned so he can gain control of the harbor. The fire quickly spreads from the harbor to the city, thus destroying the famous Library of Alexandria.

Cleopatra angrily confronts Caesar, but he refuses to pull troops away from the fight with Ptolemy’s forces to quell the fire. In the middle of their spat, Caesar forcefully kisses her.

The Romans hold, and the armies of Mithridates arrive on EgyptianCaesar soil, causing Ptolemy’s offensive to collapse. The following day, Caesar is in effective control of the kingdom and Cleopatra is crowned Queen of Egypt.

For arranging an assassination attempt on Cleopatra, Caesar banishes Ptolemy to the eastern desert. This is essentially a death sentence for Ptolemy since he and his outnumbered army would face certain death against Mithridates in the desert.

Cleopatra begins to develop megalomaniacal dreams of ruling the world with Caesar, who in turn desires to become King of Rome. They marry, and when their son Caesarion is born, Caesar accepts him publicly, which becomes the talk of Rome and the Senate.elizabeth-taylor-as-cleopatra-in-cleopatra

After he is made Dictator for Life, Caesar sends for Cleopatra. She arrives in Rome in a lavish procession and wins the adulation of the Roman people.

The Senate grows increasingly discontented amid rumors that Caesar wishes to be made king. On the Ides of March in 44 BC, a select group of Senators assassinate Caesar and split up the Empire.

Lepidus receives Africa, Octavian gets Spain and Gaul, while Mark Antony (Richard Burton) will take control of the eastern provinces. However, the rivalry between Octavian and Antony is becoming apparent.

OctavianCleopatra is angered after Caesar’s will recognizes his adopted son Octavian (Roddy McDowall) instead of Caesarion as his official heir, and angrily returns to Egypt.

While planning a campaign against Parthia in the east, Antony realizes he needs money and supplies, and cannot get enough from anywhere but Egypt. After refusing several times to leave Egypt, Cleopatra gives in and meets him in Tarsus.

Antony becomes drunk during a lavish feast, while Cleopatra sneaks away. The war is decided at the naval Battle of Actium on 2 September 31 BC where Octavian’s fleet, under the command of Agrippa, defeats the Antony-Egyptian fleet.Actium

Cleopatra assumes he is dead and orders the Egyptian forces home. Antony follows, leaving his fleet leaderless and soon defeated.

Several months later, Cleopatra manages to convince Antony to retake command of his troops and fight Octavian’s advancing forces. However, Antony’s soldiers have lost faith in him and abandon him during the night.

Rufio (Martin Landau), the last man loyal to Antony, kills himself because of the odds turning in favor of Octavian. Antony tries to goad Octavian into single combat, but is finally forced to flee into the city.

Octavian and his army march into Alexandria with Caesarion’s dead body in a wagon. Octavian has taken Caesarion’s ring, which his mother gave him earlier as a parting gift when she sent him to safety.

AnthonyWhen Antony returns to the palace, Apollodorus, not believing that Antony is worthy of his queen, convinces him that she is dead, whereupon Antony falls on his own sword. Apollodorus then confesses that he misled Antony and assists him to the tomb where Cleopatra and 2 servants have taken refuge.

Octavian seizes the palace and discovers the dead body of Apollodorus, who had poisoned himself. Octavian receives word that Antony is dead and Cleopatra is holed up in a tomb.

After some verbal sparring Octavian promises Cleopatra that her life will be spared, her possessions returned, and she will be allowed to rule Egypt as a Roman province in return for her agreeing to accompany him to Rome. Cleopatra then observes Caesarion’s ring on Octavian’s hand and knows her son is dead.

Believing that Octavian’s word is without value, Cleopatra agrees to Octavian’s terms sworn on the life of her dead son. After Octavian departs, she orders her servants in coded language to assist with her suicide.

She sends her servant Charmion to give Octavian a letter. In the letter she asks to be buried with Antony.

Octavian realizes that Cleopatra is going to kill herself and bursts into her chamber with his guards. Alas they are too late finding an ornately dressed Cleopatra already dead, along with her servant Eiras, while an asp crawls along the floor.Death

Charmion is found kneeling next to the altar on which Cleopatra is lying, and is confronted by Agrippa. She replies and then falls dead as Agrippa watches.

Cleopatra achieved notoriety during its production for its massive cost overruns and production troubles. Some troubles included changes in Director and cast, a change of filming locale (abandoning shoot in London to start again in Rome), sets that had to be constructed twice, lack of a firm shooting script, and personal scandal around its co-stars.

Cleopatra_posterOriginally budgeted at $2 million, the film ended up costing $31 million. It was the most expensive film ever made up to that point and almost bankrupted 20th Century-Fox.

It received mixed reviews from critics, although critics and audiences alike generally praised Taylor and Burton’s performances. It was the highest grossing film of 1963, earning $26 million US ($57.7 million total; equivalent to $445.98 million in 2016), yet made a loss due to its production and marketing costs of $44 million (equivalent to $340.09 million in 2016).

This fact makes Cleopatra the only film ever to be the highest grossing film of the year yet to run at a loss. Cleopatra  won 4 Academy Awards, and was nominated for 5 more, including Best Picture (which it lost to Tom Jones).

Elizabeth_Taylor_Cleopatra_1963Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a record-setting contract of $1 million. This amount eventually swelled to $7 million because of the delays of the production (equivalent to $54,100,000 in 2015).

Taylor became very ill during the early filming and was rushed to hospital, where a tracheotomy had to be performed to save her life. The resulting scar can be seen in some shots.

All of this resulted in the film being shut down. The production was moved to Rome after 6 months as the English weather proved detrimental to her recovery, as well as being responsible for the constant deterioration of the costly sets and exotic plants required for the production.

During filming, Taylor met Richard Burton and the pair began anAnthony & Cleopatra adulterous affair , which made headlines worldwide since both were married to others. Moral outrage over the scandal brought bad publicity to an already troubled production.

The original cut of the film screened for the studio was 6 hours long, but was cut to 4 hours for its initial premiere. The film was cut once more to just barely over 3 hours, to allow theaters to increase the number of showings per day and hopefully turn a profit.

As a result certain details are left out of the film, such as Rufio’s death and the recurring theme of Cleopatra’s interaction with the gods of Egypt. An unsuccessful attempt was made to convince the studio to split the film into 2 separate films, Caesar and Cleopatra followed by Antony and Cleopatra, in order to preserve the original cut.Lovers

The studio wanted to capitalize on the publicity of the intense press coverage the Taylor-Burton romance was generating, and felt that pushing Antony and Cleopatra to a later release date was too risky. The film has been released to home video formats in its 248-minute premiere version, and efforts are still under way to locate the missing footage (some of which has been recovered).

The music of Cleopatra was scored by Alex North. It was released several times, first as an original album, and later versions were extended. The most popular of these was the Deluxe Edition or 2001 Varèse Sarabande album.

The film earned Elizabeth Taylor a Guinness World Record title, “Most Costume Changes in a Film” (65). This record was finally broken in 1996 in the film Evita by Madonna with 85 costume changes.Elizabeth-Taylor-001

Critics remain divided about the film. A New York Times review called it “one of the great epic films of our day,” while Judith Crist dubbed it “a monumental mouse.”

American film critic Emanuel Levy said, “Much maligned for various reasons, […] Cleopatra may be the most expensive movie ever made, but certainly not the worst, just a verbose, muddled affair that is not even entertaining as a star vehicle for Taylor and Burton.”

Cleopatra 2Even Elizabeth Taylor found it wanting. She had said, “They had cut out the heart, the essence, the motivations, the very core, and tacked on all those battle scenes. It should have been about three large people, but it lacked reality and passion. I found it vulgar.”

Positive reactions came from such publications as American entertainment-trade magazine Variety, who wrote, “Cleopatra is not only a supercolossal eye-filler (the unprecedented budget shows in the physical opulence throughout), but it is also a remarkably literate cinematic recreation of an historic epoch.”

The film was shown as part of the Cannes Classics section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, to commemorate its 50th Anniversary. The film was later released as a 50th Anniversary version available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Unfortunately Fox had long ago destroyed all of the trims and outs from negatives to save costs years before, preventing the release of traditional outtakes. The home media packages did include commentary tracks and two short films “The Cleopatra Papers” and a 1963 film about the elaborate sets “The Fourth Star of Cleopatra”.

Overall, the film is fairly accurate to what was known of the story back in 1963. After watching the 243-minute version on Netflix, we would say the film is a production worth seeing at least once (maybe with an intermission or 2).Set

We thank you for stopping by today and hope you will give the feature film about these captivating real-life characters a chance. Check us out again soon to see what we have in store for you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Atkinson, Nathalie. “Queen of the Nile: Inside 20th Century Fox’s restoration of Cleopatra”National Post, 21 May 2013.

Burns, Kevin; Zacky, Brent. “Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood.” American Movie Classics. 3 April 2001. Television.

Chrissochoidis, Ilias (ed.). The Cleopatra Files: Selected Documents from the Spyros P. Skouras Archive. Stanford, 2013.

Hall, Sheldon; Neale, Stephen. Epics, spectacles, and blockbusters: a Hollywood history. Wayne State University Press, 2010.

Null, Christopher. “Cleopatra (1963) Review”

Patterson, John. “Cleopatra, the film that killed off big-budget epics”The Guardian, 15 July 2013.

Rice, E. Lacey. “Cleopatra (1963)”Turner Classic Movies.

Rosser, Michael; Wiseman, Andreas. “Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled”Screen Daily, 29 April 2013.

“CLEOPATRA (PG)”British Board of Film Classification. 1963-05-30.

“Catalog of Feature Films: Cleopatra”American Film Institute.

“Cleopatra (1963)”Box Office Mojo.

“Cleopatra (1963)”The New York Times.

Cleopatra from Johnny Web

“Cleopatra”. Rotten Tomatoes.

“1963: Movies as Art”Columbia Journalism School.

“The 36th Academy Awards (1964) Nominees and Winners”