Happy Birthday, Rome!

On Friday, Rome celebrated it’s 2,770th birthday! The official founding date of Rome is April 21st, 753 B.C. All weekend there were historical re-enactments culminating in a huge parade reminding me that the Roman people truly cherish and take pride in the rich history of the city they call home.

The Most Brief History of Rome You’ll Ever Read

Legend has it that twins, Romulus and Remus, were raised by a she-wolf. Eventually Romulus killed his brother and became the founder which is why we call the city Rome, not Reme.

Romulus became the first of the seven kings of Rome. However, the people weren’t happy with the monarchy (a preference that would come back to haunt Juilus Caesar later) and decided make a change. Fun way to remember a nice Jeopardy worthy trivia fact – the the last king Tarquinius Superbus, who was driven out of Rome.

Then came the Roman Republic [510-23 B.C.] where the ruling class, the Patricians, were the elite, wealthy, men of Rome. Every year the senate elected two consuls to lead them. Rome then began to wage war and expand its territory. One of the most notable, the Punic Wars, included three wars between Rome and Carthage, involved elephants, and ultimately resulted in Rome destroying Carthage and expanding into North Africa.

Mean Girls Roman history referemce

Occasionally the senate would appoint an emergency dictator who held imperium, complete power, until the issue, usually a war, was resolved. Best example of someone weilding imperiumCincinnatus. Worst example: Julius Caesar, who declared himself dictator for life which was too close to a king for the people’s liking. A group of senators plotted together and just totally stabbed Caesar 33 times during a senate meeting, and effectively sped up the transition from the Republic into the one man rule of the Empire that the senate was trying to avoid in the first place.

Augustus, Caesar’s adopted heir, avenged his predecessor’s murder and eased his way into becoming the first emperor of Rome. From then on, until around the 5th century B.C, the Roman Empire stood under the rule of emperors.

And there you have an incredibly brief, basic overview of Ancient Rome.

Natale di Roma

So, yesterday I got to go to a parade! It started at the Circus Maximus, the race track of ancient Rome. At one end of the track dozens of legions of Roman soldiers, groups of gladiators, preiestesses, and Vestal Virgins were lined up. Two commentators were speaking which probably really added to the experience, but my limited Italian vocabulary meant I understood numbers, happy birthday, and random words here and there.

Vestal Virgin torch lighting ceremony

Before the parade, the standard bearer of every legion lit a torch in a ceremony with the Vestal Virgins. The Vestal Virgins were a group of female priestesses who were in charge of tending the eternal flame of Rome. If the flame went out, bad things would happen. So, the flame was an important symbol and superstition in ancient Rome.

After the opening ceremony, the parade began. There were dancing priestesses, soldiers showing off their testudo battle formation, and emperors with their wives.

Overall, it was a fun weekend in Rome with so much to see and remind you of how important the long history of this city is to its people.

Thanks for reading,
Erin