So, to bring it all back together – and hopefully rather simply – the Myth of Romulus & Remus provides something quite fascinating to us. For it is an account that has obviously transposed something far older, and in some ways far grander [that is to say, the origin of the Race of Man – the Indo-Europeans), to a much smaller and localized context (the origin of the Roman people amidst Man); and in so doing, has also lost or changed subtly yet markedly other details in the re-telling. This has been partially in evidence by looking at the gradual progression of the Roman sources upon the matter (which change and shift various elements contingent upon how euhemeric they are intended upon being, and what is otherwise narratively or politically convenient); and partially evinced by the direct comparison of the mythology around Romulus & Remus to both the Vedic and therefore the underlying Indo-European ‘proper’/’reconstructed’ typology for the Progenitor Twins.
The way the story goes, if you asked somebody to recite it – is that the God Mars, fathers a pair of brothers upon a mortal woman of august bloodline, wrongfully imprisoned by the usurper-king of Alba Longa. Following their birth, they are to be put to death, but are instead taken pity upon by the servant charged with their murder and thence Father Tiber Himself (The Mother, meanwhile, Rhea Silvia, casts herself likewise into the river). They are provided for in the wilderness by a Mother Wolf, and then brought somewhat to civilization as the adoptive, foundling children of a shepherd; before in adulthood finding their way back to the place of their birth in Alba Longa, and setting things to rights there. After which, they proceed back to what would become Rome (or Remuria), and engage in a contest or conflict over who shall have the patronage of the soon-to-be city, its naming and its actual physical situation amongst the Hills. This includes a divinatory rite and/or a pointed argument around construction … triggering a scenario wherein either Romulus, or one of Romulus’ supporters murders Remus – and establishes via process of elimination, the Roman Monarchy (with an emphasis upon the “Mono-“) in the process. Said Monarch then giving both Name [Rome] and Order [the division of Roman society, selection of the Hundred, promulgation of Laws] to the city. Rendering them Romans by making the idea, the ideal, the concept of Rome real.
Except we now know that this is not quite how things should go.
The comparative Indo-European myth, based upon the Vedic accounting for Manu & Yama, reads as the following:
The Far-Shining One [likely Dyaus Pitar, although later specifically the Sun deity, Who may be somewhat distinct] fathers the twin brothers [potentially as part of a set of triplets – the daughter Yami being the third sibling], with a Mother [Saranyu] Who becomes somewhat remote – kidnapped, incarcerated, “vanishing” also from the lives of Her Children at least for a time. The male Progenitor Twins grow, and in adulthood their paths diverge. Yama goes forth to find (indeed, *found*) the Realm of the Dead – an act of self-sacrifice which grants Him a kingdom in the Heavens (or, in later renditions, of the Underworld) to match and mirror the Kingdom His Brother is soon to build; depicted as a noble and necessary undertaking by Him for all our common good. Manu, meanwhile, becomes the progenitor of the Race of Man, and sets down pious dictates for the proper conduct of rites and of society.
Immediately, some clear points of difference should be making themselves apparent between the ‘standard’ accounting for Romulus & Remus, and the archaic Manu & Yama myth.
The first, and quite literally most foundational one is the question of paternity. For Romulus & Remus, it is generally agreed to be Mars (although some tellings cite Hercules, and at least one instead refers to the soon-to-be-deposed false king of Alba Longa). For Manu and Yama, it is Vivasvat – an element shared in the parentage of Zoroastrian Yima, whom we met in Part III. We can also tell via comparative analysis that this *should* be how the myth goes. As I’ll argue in a future installment of this series, the Tuisto that is Father to Mannus for the Germanic, is likely a similarly ‘Shining One’ ‘Sky Father’ expression. Similarly, the Scythian origin myth has their first man, Targitaus, also directly descended from the Sky Father (although I am unsure just how much credence I place in a supposed identification of this figure with Herakles by some commentators). Amusingly, there is also another and rather more archaic Classical accounting of the foundation of Rome by a ‘Rhomos’ (‘Strength’), a son of Odysseus – which I mention, due to my previous postulation that Odysseus is an ‘echo’ or a resonancy with the same deific complex as Shiva-Odin-Rudra; and so therefore a Son of the Sky Father is the progenitor of Rome all over again. But I digress.
The point is, it seems unlikely that the Romans would be seemingly the only major Indo-European people whose origin myth otherwise works out reasonably faithfully to the Manu & Yama typology … yet diverge from it in a rather major way to have Mars rather than a Dyaus Pitar expression – or, at least, a more overtly Solar male deific than Mars (or Hercules) hailed as their immediate divine ancestor.
So why the shift? Well, there could be a number of reasons for it. The Romans were quite keen to emphasize their position within the myth – the mythology – of the Classical world; and it may have suited their internalized (as well as externalized) not-quite-‘propaganda’ to feel themselves to be more directly connected to Mars. It would certainly go well with the Venus linkage of which they otherwise boasted in reference to Aeneas. And, perhaps more to the (spear-)point, it fitted well with the quite literally Martial aspect and vigour that they wished to present to the world. This may also help to account for the presence of the She-Wolf within the nascent phase of the Twins’ upbringing. After all, Wolf-Warriors are an enduring and fearsomely renowned feature of the Indo-European world. The claim that the progenitors of the Roman Race were the next best thing to literally mothered by a Wolf would help to subconsciously underscore the militant overtones to their self-embroidered origin-myth.
Curiously, I somewhat suspect that the ‘foundational’ elements to the myth *before* it was tampered with, are still to be seen in various elements detailing the parentage of the Romans – namely, “Father” Tiber, and Rhea Silvia. Which is, to be sure, a controversial notion – but bear with me. Now, we *know* that there is a standard Indo-European deific expression for the Sky Father that is phraseable in riverine terms. This is why there is a ‘Sindhu’ hymnal in the RigVeda [ RV X 75] that is, functionally, significantly coterminous in its language and expression with earlier Parjanya and Varuna hymnals from elsewhere in the same Veda. We also find quite pointed references to each of these deific expressions in relation to the fatherhood and kinship with mankind (and, as applies Varuna, linkage to Yama particularly), something which reaches an intriguing directness of expression in, of all places, the Zoroastrian canon – wherein Apam Napat is specifically hailed as the ‘author of Men’. I considered these issues in much greater depth in the course of “Swear By The Sea, Swear By The Stars, Swear By The Sky – On The Mytholinguistics Of Varuna Neptune Ouranos”, and would only seek to emphasize the underlying ‘Radiant’, ‘Golden’, and potentially ‘Solar’ connotations of Varuna and Apam Napat in particular; but given our present Italic focus, a direct and more ‘local’ comparative would be helpful.
Which is fortunately provided for us by the Falisci – an Italic people who spoke a language closely related to Latin, and who lived not all that far from Rome’s position on the shores of the Tiber. This partially explains their recurrent pattern of warmaking and attempted insurrection against the Romans – whether alongside Etruscan allies, or simply on an opportune basis as occurred during the First Punic War. Where this becomes relevant is in the Falisci’s own foundation being ascribed to a figure by the name of Halese – stated to be Son of Neptune (it also being important to note that Neptune, amidst the Italic peoples having a far stronger riverine association than Poseidon, perhaps more in keeping with the archaic Indo-European characterization of the God). It would therefore seem not entirely implausible that the notion of one’s own heroic progenitor – Romulus – being the Son of the Sky Father in a Riverine aspect … would be rather impolitic to acknowledge. As that foundational narrative was already claimed by a closely neighbouring people with whom the Romans had fought repeated and bloody wars. These wars, as it happens, coincide with the period immediately before the first major Roman sources detailing the Romulus & Remus myth that we can attest the existence of start appearing. Given the Romans also appear to have been perhaps understandably keen to displace the Odysseus – Rhomos potential parentage for their state, on grounds of the role of the former in the Iliad many centuries before against their claimed major forebear of Aeneas … it would make completely logical sense for them to have been at similar pains to distance themselves from another, and far more closely related (as well as closely proximate) recurrent adversary in their own back yard with a potentially overlapping origin story and therefore mythic legitimacy.
A further support for my theory is to be found in the person of Rhea Silvia. Or, rather, in her name, and some of those aforementioned more ‘upbeat’ accountings wherein Rhea Silvia casts herself into the Tiber, only to find herself in Father Tiber’s arms as His wife. Rhea, should be immediately familiar as the name of an Earth Mother deific amidst the Greek mythology – and while perhaps unexpected in Roman/Latin expression, is nevertheless in evidence also in subsequent usage as a theonym for Cybele, another ‘Mountain Mother’ deific expression. ‘Silvia’, meanwhile, is derived from a Latin term for forestry, or a grove. The latter explanation requires considerably less imagination – it is, after all, where the conception of the Twins take place, in the ‘standard’ Romulus & Remus account: a sacred grove. However, I suspect that the former concept is likely to produce more fruit. The logical explanation in light of our comparative mythography, would therefore tether this sobriquet to the conceptry around the interplay of Parjanya and the Earth Mother in, for instance, RV VII 101 or RV V 83 – wherein Parjanya’s fertilization does not simply make the rains run on time, but also produces the direct growth of vegetation. Rhea Silvia, therefore, would be the Earth, fertile and fertilized. And, in this case, bearing the fruit whose seed would become Roman civilization. The return of Rhea Silvia to the Tiber, therefore, is the reunification of the married couple. Interestingly, ‘Saranyu’ – the Mother of the Divine Twins per the Vedas – also has a riverine symbolism to Her Name. But I digress.
In any case, lest there be any salient confusion over this – I am not attempting to radically re-define the parentage of Romulus & Remus in a manner that does not accord with my earlier statement around the ‘proper’ typological model for the Indo-European racial origin myth. Whether my supposition around the underlying identity of Father Tiber is accepted, or whether the more ‘conservative’ ‘corrective’ of instead simply arcening back to the more prominently usual ‘Sky Father’ expressions within Classical mythology … the point is the same: that it is the Sky Father, rather than Mars, that should be regarded as the Grandfather of Rome. The only major difference, from an Indo-European point of view, is whether we are hailing the Sky Father in a more Solar or Water oriented aspect. However, as we have seen with Great Varuna, as well as Apam Napat (but, then, I repeat myself), the two can quite feasibly co-exist in under the umbrella of a single deific expression. I am also not a linguist (merely a theologian who happens to make use of linguistics … and hold Vak Devi in highest hallowed admiration), but it would also seem intriguing to explore the potential etymology of “Tiber”. On the face of it, the most plausible that I have yet seen effectively mean ‘The Deep’, or ‘The Flow’, although other reconstructions are possible (including one involving the Mountain(s) as a potential origin/source point). Yet there is also a rather curious Etruscan inscription of about 400 BC found upon one of the priestly Negau Helmets, which attests a ‘Teiva’ – generally considered to be a ‘Deva’ style ‘Shining One’ designation. It would not seem entirely impossible for the ‘Teiva’ of these Etruscan-speakers to have some resonancy with the Italic terminology that ultimately gave rise to the ‘Tiferis’ – although potentially, in the mytholinguistic manner wherein it is a case of ‘both’ the Solar *and* the Water resonancies rather than either, flowing down in parallel from the concept’s ultimate mythological origins.
But to return to our Forensic Theology approach – the reconstructive Myth of Romulus & Remus is about rather more than just assaying putative parentage.
Bringing together our comparative mythographic evidence upon the subject, we can basically conclude that the all-important question of Rome’s foundational narrative – Who Killed Remus – has but one truly plausible answer.
Although this invites further questions – namely, how and why did the myth *shift* in Roman hands so that by the time it had started coming down to us via textual format it looked so dramatically different (and, in fact, with key details occluded even from the Romans themselves to the point that multiple potential assailants were considered, or even Remus actually outliving Romulus to begin with).
In truth, we shall likely never know the comprehensive answer to that. Which does not mean that we are unable to make reasonable inferences as to what may have occurred. These include the aforementioned ‘reworking’ of the myth for political reasons [including the ‘localizing’ of it to Rome and Romans rather than Mankind entire; but also to further ‘distance’ it from the accounts similar to or favourable to rival groupings); but also for ‘artistic’ ones [such as a desire to depict the relationship of the Founder Twins as fratricidal, so as to make a poignant point about the nature of Roman politics and civic life].
And, for that matter, the regrettable tendency toward mythic degradation if not outright literary disintegration-ism that is quite logical for many a traditional accounting passed down across multiple millennia. Particularly when the canon being transmitted is in a fragmentary state to begin with (this is Why You Have Priest Caste – to prevent this, as far as possible, from happening; hence in large measure why we *have* the Vedas in such excellent condition today, coming down to us from three and a half to four thousand years before); and when it has been deliberately altered at various stages in its implicit reproduction.
Or, to phrase it another way – given the current prominence of the Marvel cinematic universe, which features a ‘Thor’ … it is not entirely impossible that this portrayal, done for artistic purposes, will have such a salient impact upon how people think about Thor [and/or, more worryingly, Loki] – to the point that some decades or centuries down the track, the notion of a one-eyed Thor taking over the rulership of Asgard from Odin following the latter’s seeming-death, may actually become a part of the ‘popular mythology’ for the God. Amplify that out by various subsequent authors taking inspiration from this portrayal and ‘reproducing’ it in their own work – and we end up with somebody from several centuries or even millennia later, coming across some of these accounts and wondering why there’s no big green giant mentioned in the Eddas despite multi-source attestation elsewhere. And we thought “Mess-O-Potamia” [the re-arrangement of Greek mythology as a result of Near Eastern influences] was bad!
As applies the evident divergence of Romulus & Remus’ tale from that of Manu & Yama [or, for that matter, the particularly salient portions of Odin’s accompanying mythology] – it would be a simple enough thing to have happen. Take the logic of what I have earlier proposed – that Remus, effectively *had* to die [and go forth, rise to rule the Realm of the Dead by carving it out] in order that Romulus and the Roman People might live … and then reduce that down to everything outside the square-brackets, you have an easy space to infil the presumably rather under-adorned details in the original Indo-European accounting for Yama/Iemus’ self-sacrifice as to mechanism and means. And where it makes a regrettable human sense to assume that internal strife was ultimately to blame. The ‘poetic’ element of pointing out how civic conflict tarnishes even what should be the most golden of ages, a recurrent Roman leitmotif, is an added bonus.
Meanwhile, the *next* element – what Remus did after death, indeed why Remus died in the first place … may have become detached, de-emphasized, distanced from its proper comprehension – because the position of Yama was already filled in the popular mythology of the Romans as well as the broader Classical world. That is to say, Hades/Pluto – as well as quite an intriguing cast(e) of Etruscan and other Indo-European-descended Underworld deifics and figures – was already there. So what would Remus do? Other than the seriously ‘localized’ and inevitably ‘diminished’ role of looking after a particular clade of Roman shades of the dead during a particular portion of the year when they are still with us. It is hardly even a psychopomp’s role – more of a vague ‘primus inter pares’ position for the oncoming horde of the uninvited geist. Which is a dual tragedy, as not only is the Warden of Souls reduced to but a shadow of His elsewise self, but so too are the proper bonds between living member of the community and deceased ancestor, almost inverted from respect and hospitality to banging pots and pans in an effort to drive them out to the Underworld again.
Now, it is interesting to note that the RigVedic account and associated cosmology – does not really have this problem. Yama rules in the Highest Heaven inhabited by the Ancestors … but Varuna, too, is to be found there alongside Him. This is important, because Hades is a Sky Father expression (just as Varuna is), and yet shares significant iconographic coterminity with Yama. Remus is, per our aforementioned reconstructive analysis, a Son of the Sky Father. Varuna and Yama, therefore, are Father and Son Together [although it is possible that the nature of this connexion is .. more complex than that, due to the coterminity of *both* with Shiva].
Except that this makes comparatively lesser sense for many Romans – as they’d potentially already replaced the Sky Father with Mars in the parentage of the Progenitor Twins, and had largely (but not entirely) forgotten that Hades/Pluto, too, was Dyaus Pitar [even despite literally recalling this with the theonym – Dis Pater].
So, faced with the choice of reiterating and reintegrating their own original mythology, in a way that would notably diverge from the Classical ‘consensus’ on various matters [as distinct from the actual underlying Indo-European mythology as it *should* be], and which would also feature an implicit apotheosis involved for Remus [which would potentially disrupt the ‘only one special’ mytheme around Romulus/Rome] … or simply letting the ‘inconvenient’ / ‘aberrant’ element fall through the cracks, out of sight out of mind – the Romans chose to do the latter. After all – they already *had* their Rulers of the Underworld, they already had their glorious founder (later implicitly deified) … what need had they for a wandering ghost?
All things considered, then – the answer I gave before, as to the most plausible identity for Remus’ killer … was, as they say, necessary but not sufficient.
I don’t doubt that Remus, in effect, killed (sacrificed) himself.
But that was only dying the *first* time.
The second time – that of the Obliviation which Remus has quite clearly suffered …
… for the culpability for *that* killing, we need look no further than the Roman people themselves.
Perhaps this helps to explain why the Lemures of Remuria were so angry and baelful toward their descendents when they came to visit during the course of Remus’ festival bearing their (and His) name.