Romulus rŏm´yo͞oləs [key], in Roman legend, founder of Rome. When Amulius usurped the throne of his brother Numitor, king of Alba Longa, he forced Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, to become a vestal virgin so that she would bear no children. However, she became the mother of twin sons, Romulus and Remus, by the god Mars. Amulius then imprisoned Rhea Silvia and set the infants adrift in a basket on the Tiber. They floated safely ashore, where a she-wolf suckled and tended them until the royal shepherd Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, found and reared them. When they were grown, the brothers learned their true identity, killed Amulius, and restored Numitor to the throne. They then decided to establish a city of their own where they had been first rescued from the Tiber. When Romulus was chosen by an omen as the true founder of the new city, strife arose between the brothers, and Romulus killed Remus. He then populated his city with fugitives from other countries; to get wives he and his fellow Romans abducted the women of the neighboring Sabine tribe (see Sabines). After a long reign, Romulus disappeared in a thunderstorm and was thereafter worshiped as the god Quirinus. Roman historians traditionally set the date of Rome's founding at 753 BC
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Folklore and Mythology