Little Bits of History

Wives Wanted

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 1, 2015
The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence

March 1, 752 BC: Romulus celebrates victory. Romulus founded Rome, according to legend, in 753 BC. The conquerors began looking for wives and entered into negotiations with the Sabines, peoples already living in the area. The Sabines feared the emergence of a new and rival society and refused to allow their women to marry the Romans. During the festival of Neptune Equester, people from many other societies were engaged in a joyous celebration. Included with the Savines were Caeninenses, Crustumini, and Antemnates. The Romans were also invited to participate. At a signal given my Romulus, the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off the men. They left with their prizes. The Rape of the Sabine Women tells the story of the event. However, the term “rape” comes from the Latin raptio and in this context means “abduction” rather than sexual violence.

Livy, the Roman who tells the story, claimed there was no sexual assault. However, there may have been a bit of seduction. Romulus was said to have spoken with each woman carried away and promised her many things if she were to accept a Roman as her husband. He also blamed the entire capture on the “pride of their fathers” who had refused their previous offers of marriage. The women were asked to accept the Romans as husbands and then they would be given free choice as well as civic and property rights. What the Romans were seeking were families and needed women to make the children they coveted. There was no promise from the men to help actually raise the children.

After the women were carried off, the king of the Caeninenses entered Roman territory with his army to retrieve them. Romulus and his men met them in battle where they killed the king and routed his army. Romulus then attacked Caenina and took it on the first assault. He returned to Rome and dedicated the first temple of Rome to Jupiter Feretrius. The spoils from the enemy king were offered as spolia opima (the armor, weapons, and other effects stripped from an opposing commander slain in single combat). According to legends, the celebration was held on this day.

Next the Antemnates attacked and were defeated and then the Crustumini attacked. They, too, were defeated. The Sabines finally declared war and were led into battle by king Titus Tatius. The Sabine king nearly captured Rome due to the treasonous actions of Tarpeia, daughter of the governor of the citadel on the Capitoline Hill. She opened the gates to the Sabines who took the citadel. The captured Sabine, now Roman, women intervened. They pled with their Sabine fathers and Roman husbands to stop the killing for the sake of the children. The battle ended and the Sabines agreed to unite in one nation with the Romans. Titus Tatius and Romulus reigned jointly for the next five years.

A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal. – Anne Lamott

A happy marriage is still the greatest treasure within the gift of fortune. – Eden Phillpotts

Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them. – Sydney Smith

The difference between courtship and marriage is the difference between the pictures in a seed catalogue and what comes up. – James Wharton

Also on this day: Peace Corps – In 1961, the Peace Corps was formed.
Saint David – In 589, St. David of Wales died.
Salem Witch Trials Begin – In 1692, the mass hysteria known as the Salem Witch Trials started.
The Buckeye State – In 1803, Ohio became a state, but it took until 1953 for it to be official.
Time is Flexible – In 1700, a Swedish calendar went live.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2013
Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf

April 21, 753 BC: According to legend, Romulus and Remus found Rome. Mythology claimed the twins were the sons of Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia, and the Roman God of War, Mars. The twins were born in 771 BC and Romulus killed Remus when they were 18 years old, after a dispute concerning who was the favored one before the local gods. Birds flocked to Romulus, proving his favored position.

Romulus and Remus were born into trying times. Grandfather Amulius had been banished from Troy but managed to hold on to a considerable treasure. His daughter was supposed to be a priestess sworn to abstinence but somehow ended up with the twins. The enraged grandfather killed his daughter by burying her alive and set the boys out on a hill to die of exposure. Unless he just ordered them all to be thrown into the river to drown.

The servant ordered to kill the boys disobeyed his master and placed the beautiful twins in a basket by the Tiber River which was in flood stage. The basket was carried downstream where the boys were saved by a river god, Tiberinus. They were taken up to the Palentine Hill where they were nursed by a wolf and fed by a woodpecker. They were eventually found by a shepherd who took them home where he and his wife raised the children.

When they were 18, they boys were separated with Remus taken back to his grandfather, Amulius. Remus and Amulius armed the country folk while Romulus and his grandfather’s brother, Numitor, incited those who had been abused by the stern rules of the land. Romulus attacked those holding the city and won. Amulias died in battle and the twins declined to rule in his place. Instead they left for Palentine Hill where they argued over exactly where their new city should be built. They asked the gods to mediate. The gods showed their favor to Romulus and he became the first king of the Roman Kingdom and began building a wall to surround his new city. He also got rid of his dissenting brother when Remus jumped over that wall.

“I would rather be first in a little Iberian village than second in Rome.” – Julius Caesar

“When thou art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.” – Anatole Broyard

“Rome had Caesar, a man of remarkable governing talents, although it must be said that a ruler who arouses opponents to resort to assassination is probably not as smart as he ought to be.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Rome is the capital of Italy and is both a city and a special comune (administrative district). The city covers 496.3 square miles and has 2.8 million residents. It is the largest and most populous comune in Italy and the fourth largest in the European Union (London, Berlin, and Madrid are all larger). The metropolitan area is larger and there are about 3.8 million people living in the city and its outskirts. Rome also includes the small area set aside as the Papal States, capital of the Roman Catholic Church. The Globalization and World Cities has named Rome as the 28th most important global city in 2010. In 2007 it was the 11th most visited city in the world and the third most visited in the European Union. Its historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918 The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.