Livy, The Death of Romulus

 Given Romulus’ accomplishments in peace and war, it seems entirely possible that he might, indeed, have been the son of a god and risen to heaven after his death, for his management of affairs secured nearly forty years of peace and safety for Rome after his death…

 One day, Romulus was conducting a review of the army in the Campus Martius.  All of a sudden, a loud storm arose, and Romulus was covered by a thick, dense cloud, so that no one in the assembly could see him.  When the sun reappeared and had begun to calm the Romans’ fears, they saw that the throne was empty.   The senators who had been sitting next to him claimed that he had been taken away (raptum) by the whirlwind, and though the people believed the senators’ story, they remained gloomily silent, so terrified were they of their loss. 

        Shortly thereafter, the crowd proclaimed Romulus to be a god, son of a god, king and father of the Roman city, and savior of the world, and they prayed for his help.  I believe that some historians tacitly imply that the senators killed him and tore him limb-from-limb, for inklings of this tradition remained for some time.  Most people, however, believed that he ascended to heaven, no doubt strengthened in their belief by their admiration for the man.   

Shortly after these events, one clever Roman named Proculus Julius, a man with enough gravitas to carry authority with the assembly, lent credence to this story.  Aware of the city’s deep anxiety over the loss of Romulus and their anger with the senators, Julius claimed, “At the break of day, our father Romulus descended from heaven and allowed me to see him.  I stood before him, rapt in terror, begging that I be absolved for looking upon him, when he said, ‘Go, tell the Romans that it is heaven’s will that my Rome be head of all the world.  Thus, look to your military, and let your descendants know that no human efforts will be able to resist the Romans.  Having spoken these lofty words, he left.”  It is amazing how much the Romans trusted this man’s story, and once they were convinced of the immortality of Romulus, they were much less afraid.