October 15, 2006 1 Comment
Mars, the god of war became enchanted by the beauty of the Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia and “had his way with her” while she slept. (I guess that’s how the ancients described nonviolent rape.) As a result, Rhea Silvia bore twins, Romulus and Remus, the future founders of the city of Rome.
For various political reasons, “the twins were set adrift on the river in a reed basket. They floated downstream until the basket was caught in the branches of a fig tree.”
This was where they were found by “a she-wolf” who suckled them — thus the famous statue, pictured above. Apparently, wolves are sacred to Mars — a detail I didn’t know. Eventually a shepherd found them and presumably raised them as civilized humans rather than wolf children.
Here’s where it gets interesting:
Another version of the same story tells of the shepherd finding them and taking them to his wife, who had just lost a stillborn child and who breast fed them. The tale says the shepherd’s wife was a former prostitute.
Which one of the two versions is the original is hard to tell. In Latin, lupa means both ‘she-wolf’ and ‘prostitute’.