Who founded Rome – Aeneas or Romulus?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted November 28, 2016

Most versions of ancient chronology put the Mycenaean Age c.1600-1100 BC, the Greek Dark Ages c.1100-900 BC, and the Greek Archaic Period c.900-500 BC.  My chronology, however, which takes the Bible as its point of departure, but which also owes much to Immanuel Velikovsky, amends this sequence. First, the Mycenaean Age existed c.1008-754 BC and constituted what the Ancients called the Greek Heroic Age. Second, the Greek Dark Ages never existed. Third, the Greek Archaic Period existed c.754-487 BC.

In the Aeneid, Virgil relates that, after the sack of Troy by the Greeks, the Trojan prince Aeneas sailed southwest across the Mediterranean Sea to Carthage, where he dallied with its Queen Dido, and then sailed northward to Italy, where he settled on a site that is now called Rome. In Roman records, their authors related that the twins Romulus and Remus founded Rome, for which the traditional date is 754 BC. Because of the muddled state of the chronology of the ancient world, there is a discrepancy of several centuries here, and both accounts are regularly dismissed as myths and legends.

According to my chronology, the Trojan War occurred from 812 to 802 BC. According to Virgil, Aeneas’s trip from Troy to Carthage took 7-10 years and his trip from Carthage to Rome took roughly three years. Thus he and his cohorts must have arrived in Rome, at the southern edge of Tuscany, sometime between 792 BC and 789 BC.

At the time, Tuscany was inhabited by the Etruscans. Because no dramatic, historical, philosophical, poetic, or religious texts have been found among their remains, very little is known about them.  I believe that they were central Europeans who descended into Tuscany in the tenth century BC to escape the glacial conditions in their native land and probably the predations of the Gauls. During the next couple of centuries, they developed from a primitive culture to an extensive agricultural community (a) bordered roughly by the Arnus River in the north, the Tiber River to the east and south, and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and (b) studded with towns such as Arretiuum, Caisra, Curtun, Clevsin, Felathri, Fufluna, Perusia, Tarchna, Veii, Velch, Velzna, Vetluna, and Volsinium. They reached the pinnacle of their vitality and prosperity circa 754 BC, when they suffered a blow from which they never recovered.

I believe that the blow was caused by a celestial thunderbolt discharged by Mars during its close passage to the earth circa 754 BC. In a later close approach of the planet Mars circa 665 BC, a celestial thunderbolt destroyed the Army of Sennacherib in Palestine. Such a  thunderbolt circa 754 BC probably created the basin in which Lake Bolsena now exists, and which lies about 50 miles northwest of Rome. According to Velikovsky:

A vivid picture of an interplanetary discharge is given by Pliny: ‘Heavenly fire is spit forth by the planet as crackling charcoal flies from a burning log.’ If such a discharge falls on the earth, ‘it is accompanied by a very great disturbance of air,’ produced ‘by the birth-pangs, so to speak, of the planet in travail’ (Pliny, Natural History, ii. 18).

Pliny says also that a bolt from Mars fell on Bolsena, ‘the richest town in Tuscanny,’ and that the city was entirely burned up by this bolt (Pliny, Natural History, ii. 53). He refers to Tuscan writings as the source of his information. By Tuscan writings are meant Etruscan books.

Bolsena, or the ancient Volsinium, was one of the chief cities of the Etruscans, the people whose civilization preceded that of the Latin Romans on the Apennine Peninsula. The Etruscan states occupied the area of what was later known as Tuscany, between the Tiber and the Arno. Near Bolsena, or Volsinium, is a lake of the same name. This lake fills a basin nine miles long, seven miles wide, and 285 feet deep. For a long time this basin was regarded as the water-filled crater of a volcano. However, its area of 117 square miles exceeds by far that of the largest known craters on the earth – those in the Andes in South America and those in the Hawaian (Sandwich) Islands in the Pacific. Hence, the idea that the lake is the crater of an extinct volcano has recently been questioned. Moreover, although the bottom of the lake is of lava, and the ground around the lake abounds with ashes and lava and columns of basalt, the talus of a volcano is lacking. Taking what Pliny said of an interplanetary discharge together with what has actually been found at Volsinium, one may wonder whether the cinders and the lava and the columns of basalt could possibly be the remains of the contact Pliny mentions.[1]

This thunderbolt would have devastated, not just Volsinium, but the entire area, thereby severely weakening other Etruscan cities in Tuscany and its southern neighbor Rome. Such conditions would have been an open invitation to invasion and occupation by a new force.

The origin of the Roman Monarchy is shrouded in mystery and myth, which may be due to the conditions created by the cataclysm of 754 BC.

The Roman stories concerning the foundation of Rome contain a number of common elements, some of which defy acceptance. One element is the identification of Alba Longa, a city 12 miles southeast of Rome, as the source of the founders of Rome. A second element is the upheaval in the royal family of Alba Longa, in which Amulius (a) seizes the throne from his brother, King Numitor, (b) kills his brother’s male heirs, and (c) forces his brother’s daughter Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, which requires chastity. A third element is the identification of Rhea Silvia as the mother of twin boys – Romulus and Remus. A fifth element is the identification of either the god Mars or the demi-god Herakles as the father of the twins.[2] A sixth element is the abandonment of the boys in the Tiber river by order of Amulius. A seventh element is the miraculous preservation of the boys by animals. An eighth element is the raising of the two boys by a shepherd and his wife. A ninth element is the discovery by the youths of their identity as princes of Alba Longa. A tenth element is the youth’s successful venture to kill Amulius and restore the throne of Alba Longa to their father Numitor. An eleventh element is their decision to found a new city together. A twelfth element is a quarrel between the two brothers concerning the exact site of the new city – either the Palentine Hill or the Aventine Hill – which resulted in the death of Remus. A thirteenth element is the foundation of the new city by Romulus alone, who named it after himself.

Certain Roman historians reckoned that the birth of Romulus and Remus occurred in 771 BC, which means that Romulus would have been 17 years old at the time he founded Rome in 754 BC. That seems young. He might have been that or he might have been older. The important consideration here, however, is that there was no catastrophe involving Mars circa 771 BC, whereas there was such a catastrophe in 754 BC. I surmise that Mars was given credit (a) for the conception of the boys circa 771 BC rather than (b) for the creation of the opportunity for the boys to take over the site of Rome in 754 BC because doing so both preserved the role of Mars in the city’s founding and conferred semi-divinity on the city’s founder. Excepting for the seventh element above, the rest of the story is believable.

So who founded Rome: Aeneas circa 790 BC or Romulus in 754 BC? Take your pick.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] Immanuel Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision, pp. 272-273.

[2] Attributing conception to a god is an easy way for a young woman to avoid charges of fornication and was ubiquitous in the ancient world.

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