Rough Diplomacy

Natale di Roma : Birth of Rome

Historical groups evoke ancient Roman tradtions with Natale di Roma.

Every year in the city of Rome is a celebration of it’s beginnings. The holiday is Natale di Rome, or Birth of Rome. 2018 ,will mark the  2,771 year anniversary Rome.

Rome is now the capital city of Italy. 2,000+ years ago it was the center of the Roman Empire. Building started in 753 BC.

The Romans had a story to explain how Rome began. Twin boys, Romulus and Remus, were the sons of Mars (the Roman god or war) .Romulus and Remus were born in Alba Longa, one of the ancient Latin cities near the future site of Rome. Their mother, Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin and the daughter of the former king; Numitor, who had been displaced by his brother Amulius.

Later, the Vestal Virgins in Rome were charged with keeping a symbolic fire going in the heart of Rome or suffer death, because legend had it, once the fire was out, then Rome would fall.


courtyard of the Vestal Virigns, it was said if the flame of Vesta was extinguished Rome would fall. Keeping the flame going was no easy task as it was easily blown out. Any Vestal who allowed the flame to die could be punished by being burried alive. 10 Vestals have been recorded as having suffered this fate.


In some sources, Rhea Silvia conceived them when their father, the god Mars visited her in a sacred grove dedicated to him.

 Through their mother, the twins were descended from Greek and Latin nobility. Amulius is said to have taken  them as babies from their mother and threw them into the River Tiber to drown so he would have no future challenge to his thrown. The babies floated to land, and a mother wolf fed and cared for them. Later a herdsman looked after the twins until they grew up.



Reenactment of Vestal Virgins

Years later, Mars told his twin sons to build a city where they had been found. The city was Rome. One day, Remus made fun of the wall Romulus had built around the city. The twins argued, fought, and Romulus killed Remus. Today, historians and archaeologists agree that people were living in Rome long before 753 BC, but the legend is one of the most famous in world history.


this is the same day i took the photo as up top, there is one missing statue of the vestal virgins ,

In the central courtyard of the Vestal Virgins, they were picked from noble families who were selected between ages 6-10 and served til age 30. Orginaly, this complex of the Vestal Virgins was an enormous 50 rooms. It over looked this pond that normally had water lilies and plump gold fish. On one of the pedestals an honorary statue of a Vestal Virgin was removed, and the inscription chipped off, it was thought the vestal in question may have been Claudia , known to “betray” the cult by converting to Christianity.


Interestingly, in Ovid’s account, the day of Rome’s birth – the Parilia – was not the day Romulus began to define the city, but the day on which Remus mocked his efforts and is killed.


Plutarch in his Life of Romulus  states it is an extraordinary day of historical reenactments and traditions, and has been , even in ancient times as well.


The traditional birthday celebrations are centred in the Circus Maximus and include the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, on 21 April. This tradition recalls the founding of ancient Roman towns when a trench or mundus was dug and offerings thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the town’s inhabitants.

The next event is followed  by a re-enactment of the agricultural Palilia ceremony. Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honour of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.

The Pantheon , commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD — in Rome, Italy.


In the aftermath of the Battle of Actium (31 BC), Marcus Agrippa started an impressive building program: the Pantheon was a part of the complex created by him on his own property in the Campus Martius in 29–19 BC, which included three buildings aligned from south to north: the Baths of Agrippa, the Basilica of Neptune, and the Pantheon. It seems likely that the Pantheon and the Basilica of Neptune were Agrippa’s sacra privata, not aedes publicae (public temples). However today the Pantheon is open to the public.

The Pantheon Rome


On  the 21st April, Rome’s birthday, the sunbeam hits the metal grille above the door and floods the outside courtyard with light. Imagine what the ancient Romans thought when they saw their Emperor bathed in this  impressive glow.


Other aspects of Roman ancient life are also celebrated and also taught. Such as other mythology Minerva for example ,as shown in lower left photo  above.

The Circus Maximus also  hosts historical re-enactments including gladiator fights.



The city also celebrates the Birth of Rome with parades and fighting in costume, re-enacting the deeds of the great ancient Roman Empire. Even portions of Rome the series and films of Rome are filmed on these days and at these  sites.


fighting in costume, re-enacting the deeds of the great ancient Roman Empire. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)


The most anticipated and main event is a costumed parade, featuring more than 2,000 gladiators, senators, vestal virgins and priestesses, which begins and ends at the Circus Maximus, on the last day of the celebration. A pageant is organised by the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical dramatic society which, for more than 20 years, has brought history to life by re-enacting battles, historic events,  displays of ancient theater, and dance in the city center. All evoking memories of  a military and empire that has inspired the world for centuries.


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