There is already much material on this site on the topic of mythology (especially, Gods and Goddesses and The Stories of the Ancient Greeks). In Myth Mondays I attempt to bring up an element of mythology that is either timely or less well known.
You know the story of Rome's founding, right? A Vestal Virgin, whose name you may have forgotten, but which was Ilia or Rhea, was raped by the War god, Mars, and gave birth to a pair of twin boys who were suckled by a wolf and then grew up to get rid of the pretender king and establish their own kingdom by the Tiber.
Hercules and Cacus, by Baccia Bandinelli, 1525-34, in the Piazza della Signoria, Plazzo Vecchio, in Florence.
CC Flickr User infollatus
What's that you say? That's not the story you heard? Then is it this one? While the city of Troy was burning -- thanks to the Greek-soldier-hiding wooden horse the Greeks tricked the Trojans into bringing within their city walls, a local prince named Aeneas, son of the goddess Venus and Anchises, escaped with the de rigueur cohort of followers, sailed away, had lots of adventures, and wound up settling the Trojans in Lavinium, whence colonists would settle Alba Longa, and then Rome, a few generations later?
If the story you dimly remember isn't some variation on one of these, then you've probably never heard the story of the founding of Rome. Please see:Peloponnese, the southern part of Greece. Evander settled his people on the Tiber, by what would be the Palatine Hill, said to have been named for Evander's Greek homeland. This means we may have Evander to thank for the word "palace".
Evander's parentage is disputed. He is counted the son of Hermes (whence, demigod) by a nymph named Themis or Nicostrata, by the Greeks; Carmenta or Tiburtis, by the Romans. Another set of parents given Evander is Echemus and Timandra. He is said to have come to Italy 60 years before the Trojan War. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology provides 2 explanations for why Evander left Arcadia:
- as a result of a civil feud in which Evander's party lost
- in the aftermath of Evander's patricide (presumably, Echemus) at the behest of Evander's mother.
60 years later, Evander was still alive and well enough to team up with Aeneas. Evander, who shares an ancestor with Aeneas -- Atlas -- tells his distant kinsman how Hercules once helped the Arcadian settlers when he slew the monster Cacus, in Book VIII of Vergil's Aeneid. (See People in the Life of Hercules.)
There is a forum discussion on this topic. Join the discussion: Greeks Founding Rome.
For more on Evander and the Greek founders of what would be Rome, here are some articles I referred to:
"The Foundation Legends in Vergil"
John A. Brinkman
The Classical Journal, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Oct., 1958), pp. 25-33
"Founder, Civilizer and Leader: Vergil's Evander and His Role in the Origins of Rome"
Mnemosyne, Fourth Series, Vol. 56, Fasc. 6 (2003), pp. 680-702
"Graia Pandetur ab Urbe"
Christopher P. Jones
Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 97, Greece in Rome: Influence, Integration, Resistance (1995), pp. 233-241
- Seyffert, Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology