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Tuesday, January 9 2018
The Founding Of Rome: The Curious Tale Of Romulus and Remus
"I write about times and places I would visit in a time machine, like ancient Rome or the Wild West"
Rome is a city that exists. It has been there for over 2,500 years. Its "worldwide" empire was a reality for centuries, including through the entire time of the writing of the New Testament historical record. Twelve Roman Emperors ruled from just before the birth of the Messiah to the writing of the Book of Revelation.
But as we shall see, Rome, the city and the empire, were inevitable products of human nature, at its most extreme, such as it has become. The imperial principles that made Rome "great" will still exist when the Messiah returns (see the Fact Finder question below) - long after the ancient Roman empire made itself into a ruin.
But how did "Rome" begin?
According to semi-mythical Roman tradition, Romulus and Remus were twin sons of Rhea Silvia, a royal daughter of King Numitor who was overthrown and exiled by his brother Amulius. To keep Romulus and Remus from some day avenging their father and restoring his throne, Amulius ordered his infant nephews to be killed by leaving them to die of hunger and exposure on the bank of the Tiber River. According to the famous tradition, they were found, nursed and given warmth by a female wolf.
It is at that point that the story loses its credibility - wolves, female or male, don't adopt the helpless young of other creatures - they kill and eat them, or feed them to their actual offspring.
But that very same term for "female wolf," lupercal, was also then used for human harlots. In that way, the famous "female wolf" of Roman history that saved the infants Romulus and Remus may well have existed - as a human. "Rome" would not have been named after Romulus if she hadn't.
It wasn't a happy ending however. When they grew up, Romulus murdered his twin brother Remus after a heated dispute over where to build a city for themselves. When Romulus "won" the argument, by killing his brother, he made his choice - the site of Rome today, on the Tiber River, not far from where he and his brother were left to die.
With the well-known murder of his brother, Romulus had an image problem. Who would want to live in a city that was founded by, and ruled by, a hot-headed murderer?
But Romulus was apparently by then also an astute politician. He put a "spin" on his brother's killing that made it seem that the murder victim was an oppressor and that poor Romulus was a "hero" (an ancient Greek word that referred to a semi-divine human savior) freedom fighter. With that cover story to attract citizens of his new city, he declared Rome to be a "sanctuary city" - a place where "misunderstood misfits" and "innocent felons" could live in "freedom." It worked.
But then another problem. Most of the people who came to live in the new city were males - and apparently the respectable women of the region didn't fall for the self-serving "sanctuary city" farce. As might be expected from his record (and no doubt with more excuses that made it all seem so right in the minds of those who wanted to believe it), Romulus had the men of the city go out and abduct women from the surrounding towns and make them their "wives." From that came the infamous "abduction of the Sabine women."
When the civilized men of those cities marched out to rescue the women, they were defeated by the lawless and brutish men of "Rome." They were no match in battle against Romulus and his frontier tough guys.
Why didn't the defeated men of other cities try again? The answer is found in a principle of far greater imperialism that "Rome" used centuries later. The "Romans" made allies out of their defeated enemies (just like, for example Germany and Japan became allies of their former enemies after the Second World War). It was a "face saving" maneuver that served everyone very well (particularly those who didn't want to lose another fight with Romulus and his boys) - until, like all empires, it ripened and declined.
That principle has been repeated by empire after empire for thousands of years. Paradoxically, what had been their greatest strength at the beginning became their fatal weakness in the end (see The Roman Border Walls Paradox).
Fact Finder: How will the end-time "beast" (a great European warlord) be very similar to the personality of "Romulus"?
This Day In History, January 9
475: Byzantine (East Roman Empire) Emperor Zeno fled his capital at Constantinople (named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was the inventor of the Church of Rome and its "Sun Day" worship; see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy and A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad); one of his generals, Basiliscus, then seized control of the empire.
681: King Erwig of the Visigoths (the "western Goths," a Germanic people) convened a council in which he proclaimed measures against Jews in Spain.
1127: In China, the Northern Song dynasty ended when military forces of the Jin dynasty captured the capital city of Bianjing and Emperor Qinzong.
1324: Italian explorer Marco Polo died (see also What Really Happens In A Trade War?).
1349: The Jewish people of Basel, Switzerland, were arrested and burned to death because the other people of the city accused them of being the cause of the ongoing Black Death plague. The Jews were not only not the source of the plague, but were actually healthier and much less infectious than the general population because they observed the Biblical laws of diet and hygiene (see Leviticus 11: What Makes Creatures Clean or Unclean? and Leviticus 13: Bacteria).
1431: The trial of Joan of Arc began in Rouen, France.
1522: Adrian of Utrecht was elected as the first and only Dutch pope. He was the last non-Italian pope until the Polish-born Pope John Paul II over 450 years later (see The Struggle For The Papacy; listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).
1719: Philip V of Spain declared war on France.
1760: The Battle of Barari Ghat, one of a series of Afghan victories over the Marathas in their war to gain control of the decaying Mughal Empire. It gave the British time to consolidate their power in Bengal.
1792: The Treaty of Jassy ended the Russo-Turkish War; the Russian frontier was extended and the Ottomans (a centuries-long ruling dynasty of Turkey; listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) also gained territory.
1793: Jean-Pierre Blanchard of France made the first balloon flight over North America (see also Who Was The First To Fly?).
1799: Prime Minister William Pitt legislated a two shillings per pound income tax to finance Britain's involvement the Napoleonic Wars.
1806: British naval hero Horatio Nelson was buried at St. Paul's Cathedral in London after a state funeral. He led the British fleet against the French at Trafalgar in October 1805 where he was mortally wounded.
1816: At the Hebburn Colliery, Sir Humphry Davy began implementing his miners safety lamp that was designed to reduce mine explosions caused by lamp flames.
1839: The French Academy of Sciences introduced the Daguerreotype photography method to the public.
1858: Anson Jones, the fourth and the last President of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide after Sam Houston was elected, rather than him, to represent Texas in Washington.
1873: Napoleon III, Emperor of France, nephew of Napoleon I, died.
1905: "Bloody Sunday," a massacre of peaceful demonstrators that marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905.
1908: Count Zeppelin announced his plans to build an airship that could carry 100 passengers (see also Who Was The First To Fly?).
1915: Pancho Villa signed a treaty with the U.S., halting border conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico. By the end of the conflicts, Mexico lost the territories of what is today California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, plus parts of Colorado and New Mexico. As well, Texas broke away from Mexico, but later joined the U.S.
1923: Don Juan de la Cierva, Spanish flier and inventor, made the first successful flight of an autogyro, forerunner of the helicopter (see also Who Was The First To Fly?).
1957: Anthony Eden resigned as British Prime Minister just months after the Suez Canal crisis.
1960: Construction began on Egypt's Aswan High Dam.
1964: 22 Panamanian students were shot dead during riots that began after U.S. residents of the Panama Canal zone prevented the Panamanians from raising the Panamanian flag in Panama.
1972: Fire destroyed the liner Queen Elizabeth as it lay in waters off Hong Kong.
1980: In Saudi Arabia, 63 Muslim extremists were beheaded for their part in the siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca in November 1979.
1982: A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck eastern Canada.
1992: Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina declared a Serbian republic (see also The Assassination That Triggered Two World Wars).