Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Cave of the Wolf

A tremendously exciting archaeological discovery was announced yesterday. The Italians may have discovered the legendary Cave of the Wolf. This is the site where the she-wolf reputedly suckled Romulus and Remus. It was known that the sacred cave was somewhere in the honeycombed Palatine hill, but exactly where was lost in the mists of time until they happened upon it a few weeks ago.

It is located under the palace of Augustus and faces the Circus Maximus. In many ways, it makes total sense. The Circus Maximus was of the important sites in Rome and most of the games did have some of nominal religious significance. Augustus wanted to basically re-invent Rome and its morals. He wanted to bring back the Golden Age of Roman values and wanted very much to align himself and his family with those values. Siting his palace over one of the most sacred sites in Rome, possibly the most sacred site at the time, is one way he attempted to do this.
Augustus in many ways is a more interesting character than Caesar as he is basically responsible for transforming a Republic that was about to break apart into one of the world's great empires. He naturally wanted to align himself with the legendary founders of Rome. In some ways, I thought the tv series Rome did protray him pretty well. In others, I thought they missed the man. This is partly because Marc Antony (as protrayed by James Purefoy) was just som much more watchable.
It appears that Augustus did have the cave refurbished as there is a mosaic of a white imperial eagle.
The cave was central importance in the feast of Lupercol, a feast we still celebrate the remnants of today as St Valentine's Day.
It is so wonderful when Rome yields up its hidden treasures. Apparently they are planning on reopening the palace of Augustus on the Palatine in February. It has been closed for decades. And I can rememeber the Palatine as being a rather dull and dismal place.
I need to get working on my Regency but I find discoveries like this fascinating.

1 comment:

Kate Hardy said...

Thanks for sharing, Michelle - this is FASCINATING.