Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cultural Roots. Foundings: Rome, Romulus, and Remus

Rome
The Cultural Founding Tale

The Wolf Who Nursed the Babes. Here, from an old Victorian hatpin.

The Simple-Minded Spin that Followed,
Conveniently Omitting the Gritty, Murderous Essentials of the Founding Character

I. The Question.

We are looking at "founding chemistry" of earliest events, and do elements of those events leech into the culture that follows. Or is there a later winnowing out of earlier crusty values, that enabled a founding, but were embarrassing later. Can early unsavory traits survive the purge. Do they somehow still waft about and take root at seemingly genetic levels in later generations. How is that possible. But it appears to be true. There is a transmission, is there not.

Here we are at Rome.

Empire that lasted for centuries, military might, organization that destroyed tribal societies, stole resources for itself, built transport roads, established political structures and buildings that live on even today. But it was also murderous, ruthless, tolerated no deviance, and that carried on to the religious branch that bears its name, Roman Catholicism, the successor Empire -- a mere transfer of the skills that kept the military order going and did a lateral pirhouette into the so-called spiritual. Is there something about the Roman founding that drove its people along the founders' track/

So we looked it up. Rome's founding. We knew about hills, a wolf that nursed twin boys, the boys founded Rome. Big Deal. But there is a bigger deal behind. Long ignored, as the unsavory parts of any history are quietly buried in later glamor.

II. The overview.

Rome. The City on a Hill. The panoply of gods and goddesses preceding its founding; and continuing.

Then the Empire: the Roman militarist tradition, hierarchies on the march, on the roads, forcing nonconformists to conform, taking territory, taking others’ goods and services, taking, taking, imposing its Order; its philosophers branching out from the earlier Greek; and its hierarchical obsessions dribbling over into that later Church that bears its name. Roman Church with tentacles now global.
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How did the story of Rome’s founding shape its later character as militaristic, unrelenting, an implementer of strategy in order to secure for itself the resources it needed when it outgrew Italy and its immediate environs.

It started with the saving grace of an animal, a wolf. Animal guide. Totem. And the babies saved were, according to legend, in the line of Aeneas, a hero of Troy. See the family tree at ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/family15.html#Alba/.

But for the Wolf, no Rome.

The Wolf did us no favors.

We would have been better off without either Romulus or Remus founding the city that named the Empire, is that so? Or was Rome "destined.". If those particular two wee babes had shriveled in the sun and under a cold moon, would others with their qualities of aggression and tenacity and experiences have sprung up regardless, a Karma idea: That Rome was destined to be. The genii in the geni.

Is that so, did the Wolf enable that militarism and self-serving sense of superiority that has plagued Western Cultures ever after. Or was the Pattern already global, already part of the human story, unstoppable, whether Persian, Alexandrian, Asian, Andean, or King Amulius.
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III. The story:
The Violence of the Founding of Rome.
The Pattern Fixed in the Genes

Characters:
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1. The Royal Niece Rhea Silvia:

She was royalty, of the Family Alba Longa. Were they the ruling family, so that the King was also Alba Longa? Or was his surname different. Not clear. Either way, Rhea Silvia, of the Alba Longas, was, one day, in a sacred grove, looking for water, minding her own business. Another account suggests she was sent to a temple to serve as a vestal virgin by her uncle Amulius, who also earlier deposed his brother Numitor, father of Rhea Silvia. The hope was, for Amulius, that Rhea Silvia would bear no children to threaten his position. See Tales of Rome at ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation/.
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2. Violent Mars:

God of War and other things. He spotted Rhea Silvia. Had his way upon her. Seduced her, he did. Is seduction a violence, when the target ultimately says yes? Is a giving in enough. How do we know whether her consent was voluntary, or merely realistic, a wearing down. Who could save her against a god? Maybe she just wanted him to go away. If I let you do this without scratching you to death, will you just go away. Please. Go away, you unworthy fellow.
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3. Violent King Amulius:

He was Rhea Silvia’s uncle. Was he also of the family of Alba Longa? Not sure. This site says he was the brother of Numitor, so that would also make him of the house of Alba Longa. See ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation/

What’s this, says he, the King? Our nice niece, Rhea Silvia, pregnant? How did that come about, woman! And he put her in a prison, whether a mere restriction to an otherwise nice place for the niece, or not, we do not know. Imprisoned nonetheless. What if Rhea Silvia had asked him before, that her ladies come with her, and the Uncle, whom Mars had earlier favored, looked the other way. Complicit?

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More Violence from King Amulius

Instead of letting his niece Rhea Silvia raise her children, even in seclusion or banishment, he takes the babes, and has them abandoned, exposed on the banks of the Tiber River, death watching. The Tales of Rome site provides that he set the babes afloat on the Tiber in a basket on the advice of his priest -- sounds like Moses. See ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation. The site also says that Rhea Silvia, according to custom, after the birth, was buried alive, or drowned herself in the Tiber.
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4. Wolf.

The Wolf in Rome’s founding. Wanders down by the riverside. The savior by suckling. Nursing the abandoned twins, Romulus and Remus. She did us no favors. Should have let them go, but that is against Motherhood’s urges. Query: how would she move them? They have no scruffs of neck. Perhaps grab a fist and a foot, and trot off. A softie mouth, hers. And wise. Did no harm.
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5. Faustulus the Shepherd; who finds the babes.

There is a shepherd in Rome’s founding. The savior by kidnapping, technically, if animals had right.. So the Wolf had no chance of keeping the little ones. She had done fine -- No finding of neglect. Still, the shepherd cannot be faulted for taking the babes from the Wolf, and raising them as his own children. The time had come. The shepherd's wife was Accra Larentia, see ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation

Taking the twins from the wolf s an event in itself might be seen as nonviolent, even nurturing if the children were already toddlers and the wolf couldn’t cope with these two-legged explorers: but he did a rotten job of it.

No sooner were the kids grown than they turned to robbery. Nice job, Faustulus. Good example for the kiddies. Tell us, where did they learn that trade? Violence in the shepherd's hut? However, the Tales of Rome site mentions no robber tendencies at all: the two brothers continue to act in concert. Not in a life of crime.
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6. Violent Romulus and Remus the Robbers.

Now adult, and robbers (remember, this is the Roman Guide site, not Tales of Rome), they make a bad choice. They were out on the Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills later made part of Rome.

They target there as an easy mark one of the King’s own shepherds. The King is still King Amulius, the same King who had the twins born to his luckless seduced niece, Rhea Silvia, abandoned at the outset.

And the twins failed. Botched this job. Shepherd & co. gave chase, and captured Remus. And they bring him to King Amulius. Tales of Rome says both simply went to the town and killed Amulius.
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The Reveal.

Meanwhile, Romulus high-tailed it back to Faustulus, the Good Daddy who taught them robbery. And Faustulus, hearing of Remus’ fate, told Romulus that he had found both babes by the river.
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The Revenge.

Romulus took off to rescue Remus from Amulius. He got that done, and then killed King Amulius. What?

Something doesn’t fit. We need an investigation into who knew what when, because letting these kids go amok with Faustulus for so long meant a bad end for lots of lives in being. The King obviously knew of it. Why did Amulius let the kids, that he had abandoned so they would die, live, and be raised as robbers. How did he learn of Faustulus? When and how did Faustulus learn of Amulius’ connection to the babies. And, after the initial abandonment, Amulius let the kids go on their own.

Cultural choices
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Rhea Silvia.

The forgotten one. Leave the kids with her, and none of this would have happened this way.

Think of the choices a culture could make. If a culture would make it possible, desirable even, in terms of status and dignity, for the mothers of all children (even the results of seduction and worse) to be mothers, we would be better off. Let her decide whether to incubate, keep and raise, if she wants to, those children, in status and dignity. Provide that status and dignity and problem solved.

If she decides to Rid, it is her consequence with her deity or panoply of deities. No force needed or justified by any third parties. We could have avoided Rome. Rats. Too late. Force anywhere in childbearing or rearing, either way, is not in the world’s best interest.
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The Succession:

7. Numitor.

New King by Regicide.

Romulus, this robber with royal blood, somehow having power to choose a successor now, chooses Rhea Silvia’s father, Numitor. See again the family tree and accounts at ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation/. Amulius was Numitor's brother.

Interesting twist. How would Romulus even know his grandfather? Did he ever meet Rhea Silvia? Romulus, after killing Amelius and rescuing Remus the Hapless, put this Numitor on the throne. An Alba Longa. Romulus and Remus, down the matrilineal line, going back up that matrilineal line to find Numitor. Who? The grandfather of Romulus and Remus, therefore the father of Rhea Silvia.
Rome: The New City founded on a Quarrel

With an Alba Longa ensconced on the throne of that area, wherever it was, Rome-ish area, the twins decide to found their own city. Where?

Where the wolf had found them. Great idea. But they were mere babes in the sand and could not remember where the wolf found them. So they fought about it. Romulus said he had been given a sign from the gods (which? Mars, his father? Nobody connects the dots) and laid out a boundary on the Palatine Hill for the new city. Nuts to that, said Remus. That’s no boundary at all. And to prove his point, he jumped over the line. He wanted the city to be situated on Aventine, see ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation

Ha! Says he. Feeble boundary that. No defense at all.
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Romulus: King by Fratricide.

Romulus said, I had a sign, Remus you worthless one; and what you are doing is sacrilege.

So Romulus killed Remus. Romulus then became the first King of this new city. The time is 753 BC. See ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Foundation
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Revving up the City of Misfits.

What city? A city but without people, silly. Our Romulus, the killer, needed people. So he set up a refuge for outlaws and runaways from the rest of Italy. Live here! Be safe! Be a citizen! This place was called Asylum. Here in Hartford, we have Asylum Avenue, Asylum Hill, a place that had housed a refuge for orphans, I think. Asylum – origins in the first concept of Rome. It was on the Capitol Hill.
Rome’s hills: So far, the story has these.
  • · Avantine – where Romulus and Remus went up the hill to rob a shepherd lowly, they botched the job, and Remus was caught, and Romulus went tumbling after.
  • · Palatine – where Romulus scratched out his silly line of a boundary, Remus scoffed, and Romulus killed him for it. Later, there were indeed walls, and huts, and graves found there by archeologists and others, supporting the idea that Rome began on Palatine. A cult developed around that idea – cult? Why not call it a religion? What was it?
  • · Capitol -- where Romulus the Fratricider, the Regicider, Robber, Royalty Half-God, set up his Asylum to people his city with the undesirables whose genes went on forever ye gods. An ancient Australia. A prison colony on the loose. No mind. It wears off, and maybe some were wrongly so labeled.
  • · Add Quirinalis, from ://www.pantheon.org/articles/q/quirinus.html/ This hill had been peopled by the Sabines, and was somewhat northeast of Rome. If you saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers a million years ago, you might remember, O, Them Sabine (Sobbin’) Women, as the brothers of our Wild West carted off some women to their remote l’il ol’ ranch, in the same manner as the Rape of the Sabine Women of old, except without the plunder and rape, in the Hollywood version. The Sabines are said to have worshiped Quirinis. Their settlement was known as the Quirinal. No jokes about that, please. This account says that Jupiter and Mars ideas were joined to become the new god of the Roman state, Quirinus. This site places Quirinus separately from Jupiter and Mars, but equal, as Three Flames of Rome, see ://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/487539/Quirinus
King Romulus Gets Busy.

In the next 40 years, Romulus had devised and set up
  • · the senate,
  • · the army, and
  • · population divisions, into three tribes. The Pinta, the Nina, the Santa Ma---no! Not that!
And no religion. Then again, Mars had his way with the army being established straight away. Romulus liked fighting, obviously, and was reviewing his troops on the Campus Martius (is that another hill, or just the traditional place for war games?), when there was this huge thunderstorm.
And …
The Ascension of Romulus.

The Gentleman Vanishes. The Romulus Ascension. Romulus then disappears. Poof. There was this big cloud, it covered him all up, and Romulus was gone from human view.
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Legend fills in the gaps: One legend provides that Mars came with his chariot (swinging low, sweetly), and took his worthy son, Romulus, to heaven. Both names -- the Mars and the Romulus -- were later connected with another name, Quirinus. Some say they were worshipped under that Quirinus label.

Conclusion:

Rome had a violent founding, with characters who took and did as they liked, in a time of fratricide and regicide and abuse of women especially who got pregnant even when gods put upon them, and all went for power and military. Enter the Church after the Empire left so many unemployed. There you go. Is that so? The Miasma. Early violence winnowed out. Vestiges then start growing again in a militaristic, intolerant religion, enlisting the unemployed and those whose mindsets are already fixed, obey or you are out. Is that so? What parts of that are unfairly stated?

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Research ongoing: so far, see Roman Guide at www. romanguide.com/ancientrome/romulus-and-remus.html; and Tales of Rome at ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/family15.html#Alba/ Where there is no other source listed, the source is Roman Guide. The Tales of Rome site has other legends, stories about the founding, including that Romulus and Remus were more likely one person, later separated into separate characters. Do see the full site at ://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html#Twins

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Tales - Baghdad, then Iraqi Jews, Kurdish, Other Sources

A favorite theme among cultural tales is the comeuppance - the evildoer or trickster who ultimately is foiled, often by his own means.

In these days of cultural divides particularly between Muslim and Christian culture, see this commonality in a Middle Eastern story, dating back to the time of the Thousand and One Nights

1.  Read "The Enchanted Storks" at http://www.aaronshep.com/stories/019.html/.  There was a mighty Caliph, a good man and revered ruler, who often disguised himself with his Vizier, and hoth went into the city to learn of the talk of the citizens.  He and the Vizier fall prey to a spell when all they wanted to do was enjoy a fine flight above Baghdad.

But, is the beggar who told them the magic words, and gave them the mysterious box, really a beggar?  Does sorcery as a shortcut ever work.  What happens when the Caliph and Vizier disappear? Who comes to take power, and is there a comeuppance.

This is not a long story - find it at the site. 

"The Enchanted Storks: - a retelling by Aaron Shepard, from an earlier written tale that then became told frequently. Do a search for his name. It is seldom that a full tale is online, and this is a delight for us who are overused to European tales.

2.  Still in the Middle East -- Tales of Iraqi Jews - collected in Israel, representing a long tradition.

See ://babylonjewry.org.il/new/english/pub7.htm/.  This, however, does not offer access directly to the folktales.

Changing websites:  There used to be reference to these folktales at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, but its site has moved to www://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/welcome.htm.  Now we cannot locate the Iraqi Jews tales.

Still, Nanzan University in Japan offers much in cultural tale collecting, and the Iraqi Jewish tales may still be there, see http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/English/index.html, that also has a fine section (indexed) on Japanese folktales about the human condition, at ://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/AFSMonographs/pdf/AFS%20Monograph%208.PDF

Go to pages 184 ff.

3.  Kurdish folktales -see http://www.scribd.com/doc/2490840/Kurdish-folktales/ Scroll down and enjoy. Start at page 4 for the index of titles:  as you read of Iraqi divisions in politics and war, and the Kurdish identity crossing borders, take time to see them as a culture with concerns and lessons through stories similar to ours.

We started scrolling around and started with the Black Slave.  Start where you like --

King of the East
The Cleverness of the Three Brothers
The Black Slave  (a moral - find and ascertain facts before acting)
Brokenhearted Uncle Homar
The World-Revealing Goblet
The King Who Had Seven Sons
The Results of Stinginess
Give Up Your Head But Don't Divulge Your Secret
The Grateful Bear
Hasan the Trapper
The Result of Greed
The Zay Tree and the Tay Falcon
Hisayn the Water Carrier
King Amad
The King and Fate
The Weaver's Son
Strike, Strike, What You Saw Is All You'll Get

Pick one.

Start reading.  We have ....