The twins grew up to become leaders of a band of young herdsmen and warriors. Never idle, they passed their time exercising and hunting with their friends, driving away robbers, and capturing thieves. When the twins were about 18 years old, they came into conflict with the herdsmen of Numitor over rights to pasturage in the meadowland between the Aventine and Palatine hills. One day the herdsmen of Numitor ambushed Remus and a number of his band and easily captured them. The prisoners were then taken before the king in Alba Longa.
When he learned of his brother’s capture, Romulus was eager to follow in hot pursuit. However, Faustulus advised him to wait. His foster father took Romulus aside in
Above: This marble relief depicts the heads of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus.
Private and revealed to him the circumstances of the twins’ birth. Romulus and Faustulus decided that it was time for the twins to take their revenge against Amulius.
In preparation, Romulus called together the men of the village, instructing them to go in small groups to Alba Longa and, without causing any suspicion, to gather around the marketplace, where they would await orders. Meanwhile, the captors took Remus to Amulius. The Alban king made a judgment against Remus and then turned him over to Numitor, who was present at the hearing, for determination of punishment, because the matter concerned Numitor’s herds. However, Numitor was so impressed by Remus’s bearing and courage that he was overcome by curiosity and spoke privately with the youth, inquiring about his life and origins. Remus told him all that he knew, which was little. Numitor agreed to spare Remus’s life if he would assist in a plan to take revenge against Amulius for the wrongs inflicted upon the house of Numitor—the deprivation of his kingdom, the
Above: Now located in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, this bronze Etruscan statue of a she-wolf dates from around 500 BCE. The statues of the infants Romulus and Remus were added around 2,000 years later.
Imprisonment of his daughter, and the destruction of his family. Remus embraced the plan enthusiastically. Numitor told him they must bide their time but that he should send a message to his brother Romulus, summoning him to come as soon as possible.
When he arrived before Numitor, Romulus informed him of the twins’ true identity Meanwhile Faustulus had been apprehended at the gate of Alba, with the ark in which the twins had been exposed concealed beneath his garment. He had brought the little box to prove the identity of his foster sons. However, the guard at the gate discovered the concealed ark and, suspicious because Faustulus was hiding such an apparently harmless object, seized him. Other guards crowded around. As fate would have it, one of these men had carried the infants to the river 18 years earlier. He immediately recognized the curious object that Faustulus was carrying. When the true nature of the little receptacle was revealed, Faustulus was sent to be interrogated by Amulius himself.
Faustulus was forced to admit to the Alban king that the twins were still alive. However, he also told him that they were tending their flocks far from the city. He had brought the ark, he insisted, only to show Rhea Silvia. Amulius sent the herdsman away with a guard to find and bring back the twins. However, the guard was overcome with sympathy for Faustulus and the twins and betrayed the king by revealing the developing situation to Numitor. Numitor, in turn, advised Romulus and Remus to take quick action. The combined force of the Albans loyal to Numitor and the twins’ Palatine villagers lurking in the marketplace quickly overwhelmed Amulius’s soldiers and killed the king. Numitor, restored to his rightful kingship, gave Romulus and Remus authority to found a new city.