cover image Rome: Day One

Rome: Day One

Andrea Carandini, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Princeton Univ., $24.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-691-13922-7

The founding of Rome by the twins Romulus and Remus has long been seen as myth. Now, the University of Rome's eminent archeologist, Carandini, produces a compelling narrative of the city's establishment around 775 to 750 B.C.E. confirming that Romulus (he killed his twin, Remus) indeed was present on Rome's first day. Drawing on new archeological evidence, Carandini demonstrates that Rome's founding involved a series of ceremonial acts that instilled into the soil and the people a "will to power" expressed in juridical, political, governmental, and constitutional forms. Thus, the Palantine became the Roma Quadrata, the royal citadel and the symbolic heart of the settlement. The Forum and the Capitolium/Arx were where the sacred and political ceremonies would be held. Finally, the urban territory was divided into three parts and governed by the constitutio Romuli, which established the sovereignty of the king as well as a royal council that governed various divisions of the city-state. Unfortunately, Sartarelli's wooden translation saps the life and energy from Carandini's otherwise provocative exploration of the founding of ancient Rome. 62 illus.; maps. (Aug.)