When Was Rome Founded?

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When was Rome started as a city? Where did its name come from? Who started it? What are the names of its seven legendary seven?

According to legend, the origin of Rome and its history began in April 753 B.C. It is at this time that twin boys Romulus (c. 771 - c. 717 B.C.) and Remus (c. 771 - c. 753 B.C.) supposedly founded the city. It was said they were descendants of prince Aeneas.

After Romulus and Remus were born, according to traditional stories, the two future founders of Rome were laid near Tiber's banks, within a cradle, to avoid being killed. The tides, however, caused the river's water to rise and the two infants were swept away downstream. They are soon found by the god of the river and placed on top of Palatine Hill. A female wolf (again, not according to history but legend) finds the babies and, with the help of a woodpecker, nurses and feeds them back to health. A shepherd ultimately finds the children and takes them home.

Romulus, from whom the name for Rome may have been derived, ultimately killed his brother in an argument over who was going to be sole ruler. He became the first in a line of seven kings who would rule the city.

In the years before Christ it was very common to refer to Rome as the city built on seven hills. When Romulus and Remus desired to construct a city near the Tibur (Tiber) River, which would afford protection from both pirates and from being attacking by an enemy fleet, legend states it was decided that the city should be founded on seven hills. The founders of Rome built the city on these hills because, as the story goes, they wanted the world to know that it was destined to become great and powerful.

Founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, fed by a she-wolf
Romulus and Remus
fed by a she-wolf

The seven hills of Rome are, from the Northern-most then going east, are the Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, Aventine, Capitoline and the hill near the middle of the city, Palatine. Vatican hill, which is not considered one the mounts on which the city was founded, lies west of the Tiber. It is on this hill that the Roman Catholic Church, in the year 1506 A.D., began constructing St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Rome is not the only city in history built on (or historically considered founded upon) seven hills. Other seven-hilled cities include Babylon, Jerusalem, Moscow, Mecca, Lisbon and Amman.

It is believed Romulus began not only Rome's Senate but also its Legion. He also expanded the population of the city by taking females from the nearby Sabine tribes, which would ultimately result in the Romans and Sabines becoming one people. Soon after he died, the people deified Romulus in the form of the pagan god Quirinus.

It is from such beginnings that the city of Rome grew into a Republic in 509 B.C., and then transformed again into the capital of the mighty Roman Empire starting with the rule of Emperor Augustus in 27 B.C. The Empire's lasting legacy is felt in its influence in such diverse areas as art, architecture, law, language and others.

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