Sunday, January 13, 2008

Closer to the Golden Dawn

It's already being called "one of the most important discoveries of all time," by someone who is likely learned enough to remember the discovery of early Madonna super-8 movies back in the mid 90s. So, you know it's big news.
In Rome, archaeologists might have actually discovered Lupercal, the mythical cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf and later founded Rome. The cave endured as a temple for the priests of Lupercus until 494 AD, and is mentioned in all sorts of Roman texts, but it has been lost for centuries. Until now? I think it is entirely possible that the underground temple that has been discovered is the right one, especially as it is within the Palatine hill, underneath the palace of Augustus. From the pictures, it certainly seems to be a temple of Romulus and Remus, and it is a great find, at any rate.

Most societies have a founding myth- and usually a pretty bloody one. I'm hard pressed to think of a founding myth for contemporary societies that quite compares. Oh, we certainly have our myths, but nothing like the two abandoned sons of Mars being suckled by a she-wolf by the river Tiber. Somehow, George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and owning up to it doesn't really compare.

And actually, given all the current chest-thumping, I think that might make a good Republican campaign ad for this year:

"In the face of Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration, we need to elect the candidate who was descended from the god of war and suckled by a she-wolf before killing his own brother in a fit of jealous rage. We need Rudy Guiliani!"


Holly said...

I know this is probably an ignorant question, but... how is that supposed to be one of the most important discoveries of all time? Often when I encounter a belief I can't buy into, at least I can fathom how it could seem that way. This time, I'm drawing a blank.

Rufus said...

I thought it was funny too. But, remember that the guy who said that has most likely dedicated his entire life to Roman archaeology. Let's let him have this one.

Holly said...

I guess the press conference loses punch if you say, "This is one of the greatest discoveries of all time for me and my generally uneventful career!"

Yeah, he can have this one.