Zonaras 7.4 Part IV: The Deification of Romulus

Romulus pushes his tyranny to the limit and… disappears. 

When Romulus’ grandfather Numitor died in Alba Longa and the throne of that city fell to Romulus, he led some people to found a city between Alba Longa and Rome, and every year he produced a new leader for the Sabines. He grew angry at the powerful in Rome who sought an autonomous city without a king. For, those who were called ‘Patricians’ did not have a part in the city’s affairs, but rather a title and the outward appearance of power; they were brought together in the senate house more for the sake of custom than for the sake of their counsel. Then, while Romulus was in action, they would listen in silence, and they considered it better to learn what seemed better to him than to consult the opinion of the others and left off of the rest. From this circumstance arose the opinion that he treated the senate with indignity. On that account, it seemed suspicious when Romulus suddenly disappeared. It is said that while he was calling an assembly in the spot known as the Goat’s Meadow the sun lost its light, night descended upon everything, and there was terrible thunder along with gusts of wind which brought driving rain. In this storm, the masses fled, but the powerful men turned together. When the storm had subsided, and they had come together again, they began to seek the king. The powerful men did not allow anyone to inquire after Romulus, but ordered everyone to respect him and worship him, as he had been snatched away to be with the gods, and he would be a god to the Romans in place of a simple king.

᾿Επεὶ δὲ Νομίτωρος τοῦ πάππου αὐτοῦ ἐν ῎Αλβῃ τελευτήσαντος, ῾Ρωμύλῳ προσηκούσης τῆς βασιλείας, αὐτὸς εἰς μέσον ἔθηκε τὴν πολιτείαν δημαγωγῶν, καὶ κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ἀπεδείκνυεν ἄρχοντα τοῖς Σαβίνοις, ἠρέθισε τοὺς ἐν ῾Ρώμῃ δυνατοὺς ἀβασίλευτον ζητεῖν καὶ αὐτόνομον πολιτείαν. οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ καλούμενοι πατρίκιοι πραγμάτων μετεῖχον, ἀλλ’ ὄνομα καὶ σχῆμα ἦν αὐτοῖς, ἔθους ἕνεκα μᾶλλον ἢ γνώμης ἀθροιζομένοις εἰς τὸ βουλευτήριον· εἶτα ῾Ρωμύλου πράττοντος ἠκροῶντο σιγῇ, καὶ τὸ πρὸ τῶν ἄλλων τὸ δεδογμένον ἐκείνῳ μαθεῖν πλέον ἔχοντες τῶν λοιπῶν ἀπηλλάττοντο. ὅθεν ἐδόκει τὴν γερουσίαν προπηλακίζειν· διὸ αὕτη ὕποπτος ἔδοξεν ἀφανοῦς μετ’ ὀλίγον γενομένου ῾Ρωμύλου. λέγεται γὰρ ἐκκλησίαν ἄγοντος αὐτοῦ περὶ τὸ καλούμενον Αἰγὸς ἕλος τοῦ μὲν ἡλίου τὸ φῶς ἐπιλιπεῖν, νύκτα δὲ κατασχεῖν βροντάς τε δεινὰς συμβῆναι καὶ πνοὰς ἀνέμων ζάλην ἐλαυνούσας. ἐν δὲ τούτῳ τὸν μὲν ὄχλον φεύγειν, τοὺς δὲ δυνατοὺς συστραφῆναι μετ’ ἀλλήλων. τῆς δ’ ἐν τῷ ἀέρι ταραχῆς λωφησάσης καὶ αὖθις πολλῶν ὁμοῦ γενομένων ζητεῖσθαι τὸν βασιλέα· τοὺς δὲ δυνατοὺς οὐκ ἐᾶν ἐξετάζειν περὶ αὐτοῦ, τιμᾶν δὲ παρακελεύεσθαι πᾶσι καὶ σέβεσθαι ῾Ρωμύλον ὡς ἀνηρπασμένον εἰς θεούς, καὶ θεὸν ἐσόμενον σφίσιν ἀντὶ χρηστοῦ βασιλέως.

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