Rome's Foundation Myths -- Structuralist Term Paper

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Iulus, on the other hand, represents continuity. The continuity of the Trojan race, the continuity of his father's bloodline, and the continuity of the mission to establish the Roman race in Italy.

Amulius and Numitor

The brothers Numitor and Amulius, descendants of Aeneas and Iulus, continue the establishment of the Roman race. Numitor, the King of Alba Longa, is overthrown by his brother Amulius overthrew him and took the throne. The story revisits the Aenean theme of familial piety. Amulius violates the code of piety by throwing out his brother and King Numitor. However, familial piety is restored when Numitor's grandsons Romulus and Remus reinstating their grandfather Numitor as king of Alba Longa after killing the offender Amulius.

The story of Numitor and Amulius is also marked by the themes of integration and disintegration. Amulius represents the theme of disintegration . First, he partitioned the brothers' inheritance into two parts, the treasure and the city, disintegrating the legacy left by their father. His usurpation of the throne of Alba Longa from his King Numitor disintegrates political order and harmony in Alba Longa. Also his banishment of Numitor. He also disintegrates the family unit, by banishing his brother from Alba Longa, murdering his niece, and casting his grand-nephews to the wolves.

Numitor represents the theme of integration. When asked to choose which part of the partitioned inheritance to possess, Numitor chose the city instead of the more useful treasures. He valued his home and the continuity of his ancestors' legacy more than the raw power that treasure could provide.

Romulus and Remus

The story of the brothers Romulus and Remus is the last chapter in the founding of Rome saga. It also revisits the Aenean theme of familial piety. In addition to their rescue of their grandfather Numitor, Romulus and Remus also demonstrate familial piety to each other. Romulus rescues Remus when he is taken prisoner by Aumulius' shepherds. Later, Romulus' murder of Remus is a transgression of the theme of familial piety. However, Romulus eventually restores familial piety when he appeases the angry ghost of his brother Remus by inaugurating a festival

The story of Romulus and Remus is also structured according to the theme of integration and disintegration. Remus represents disintegration through his dissent from the will of his brother Romulus. First, he disagrees with Romulus, his savior, about the site of their new city. Then, he disputes the superiority of Romulus' augury contrary to convention. Finally, he interferes with Romulus' construction of his city's defining wall and violates its boundary as an insult to his brother.

Home is an important symbol of integration and Remus is less tied to home than Romulus. Amulius' shepherds were able to kidnap Remus because he was out walking with companions while Romulus was at home performing sacrifices to the Gods. Later, Remus appears as a ghost, which is an indication that he is not whole, another instance of disintegration.

Romulus represents the theme of integration. His penchant for integration is revealed in the rape of the Sabine women, which served to integrate the Romans and Sabines. It also served to provide wives for the many wifeless refugees settling in his fledgling city. Before that, his rescue of Remus marked the reintegration of their family unit.

Of the two brothers, Romulus is the more loyal, nurturing, and, ultimately, successful of the two. Also, his fondness for sacrifice was evidence of his piety and obedient nature. In contrast to the obedient Romulus, Remus is rebellious and disputatious. Remus is typically the one to create or point out problems, while Romulus is the one to propose solutions. Problems disintegrate while solutions reintegrate it.


The three chapters of Rome's foundation myth were hugely important, not only from a cultural standpoint but from a political standpoint. With it, Emperor Augustus, through Virgil's pen, provided the Romans a noble legacy to match its hegemonic power. However, even though the myths were constructed with such explicit political aims in mind, the myths could not help but be exhibit the universal themes of integration and disintegration.


Plutarch, Life of Romulus.

Virgil, The…[continue]

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