CHAPTER III. THE WONDERS OF ANCIENT ROME.
[Early inhabitants of Italy.]
The great capital of the ancient world had a very humble beginning, and that is involved in myth and mystery. Even the Latin stock, inhabiting the country from the Tiber to the Volscian mountains, which furnished the first inhabitants of the city, cannot be clearly traced, since we have no traditions of the first migration of the human race into Italy. It is supposed by Mommsen that the peoples which inhabited Latium belong to the Indo-Germanic family. Among these were probably the independent cantons of the Ramnians, Tities, and Luceres, which united to form a single commonwealth, and occupied the hills which arose about fourteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber. Around these hills was a rural population which tilled the fields. From these settlements a fortified fort arose on the Palatine Hill, fitted to be a place of trade from its situation on the Tiber, and also a fortress to protect the urban villages. Though unhealthy in its site, it was admirably adapted for these purposes, and thus early became an important place.
[Foundation of Rome.]
[Settlement under Romulus.]
[Extent of the city at the death of Romulus.]
The legends attribute a different foundation of the "Eternal City." But these also assign the Palatine as the nucleus of ancient Rome. It was on this hill that Romulus and Remus grew up to manhood, and it was this hill which Romulus selected as the site of the city he was so desirous to build. But modern critics suppose that he did not occupy the whole hill, but only the western part of it. Varro, whose authority is generally received, assigns the year 753 before Christ as the date for the foundation of the city. The first memorable incident in the history of this little city of robbers was the care of Romulus to increase its population by opening an asylum for fugitive slaves on the Capitoline Hill. But this supplied only males who had no wives. And when the proposal of the founder to solicit intermarriage with the neighboring nations was rejected, he resorted to stratagem and force. He invites the Sabines and the people of other Latin towns to witness games. A crowd of men and women are assembled, and while all are intent on the games, the unmarried women are seized by the Roman youth. Then ensues, of course, a war with the Sabines, the result of which is that the Sabines are united with the Romans and settle on the Quirinal. The Saturnian Hill is left in possession of the Sabines, while Romulus assumes the Sabine name of Quirinus, from which we infer that the Sabines had the best of the conflict. Callius, who, it is said, assisted Romulus, receives as a compensation the hill known as the Caelian. At the death of Romulus, who reigned thirty-seven years, Rome comprised the Palatine, the Quirinal, the Caelian, and the Capitoline hills. [Footnote: M. Ampere, Hist. Rom., tom. i. ch. xii.] The Sabines thus occupy two of the seven hills, and furnish not only people for the infant city, but laws, customs, and manners, especially religious observances.
[The public works of Numa.]
The reign of Numa was devoted to the consolidation of the power which Romulus had acquired, to the civilization of his subjects, and the improvement of the city. He fixed his residence between the Roman and the Sabine city, and erected adjoining to the Regia a temple to Vesta, which was probably only an oedes sacra. It was probably along with these buildings that the Sacra Via came into existence. The Regia became in after times the residence of the Pontifex Maximus. Numa established on the Palatine the Curia Saliorum, and built on the Quirinal a temple of Romulus, afterwards rebuilt by Augustus. He also erected on the Quirinal a citadel connected with a temple of Jupiter, with cells of Juno and Minerva. He converted the gate which formed the entrance of the Sabine city into a temple of Janus, and laid the foundation upon the Capitoline of a large temple to Fides Publica, the public faith.
[The reign of Tullus Hostilius.]
[Improvement of the city made by Tullus.]
Under the reign of Tullus Hostilius was the capture of Alba Longa, the old capital of Latium, where Numa had reigned, and the transfer of its inhabitants to Rome, which thus became the chief city of the Latin league. They were located on the Caelian, which also became the residence of the king. He built the Curia Hostilia, a senate chamber, to accommodate the noble Alban families, in which the Roman Senate assembled, at the northwest corner of the Forum, to the latest times of the republic. It was a templum, but not dedicated for divine services, adjoining the eastern side of the Vulcanal. Out of the spoils of Alba Longa, Tullus improved the Comitium, a space at the northwest end of the Forum, fronting the Curia, the common meeting place of the Romans and Sabines. On the Quirinal Hill he erected a Curia Saliorum in imitation of that of Numa on the Palatine, devoted to the worship of Quirinus.
[Growth of Rome during the reign of Ancus Martius.]