Cleansing the City

Plutarch, Romulus 24

“Then a plague fell on the land, bringing unexpected death to people without sickness, also infecting the crops with barrenness and making the cattle stop reproducing. Drops of blood rained on the city too which added great superstition to the compulsory suffering.

When similar things happened to the people in Laeurentum, it seemed obvious to everyone that it was the crime against justice over Tatius and the murdered ambassadors which drove divine rage against the cities. Once the murderers were surrendered and punished on both sides, the horrors clearly ebbed. Romulus also cleansed the city with purificatory rites which people allege are still celebrated in our time at the Ferentine gate.”

XXIV. Ἐκ τούτου λοιμὸς ἐμπίπτει, θανάτους μὲν αἰφνιδίους ἀνθρώποις ἄνευ νόσων ἐπιφέρων, ἁπτόμενος δὲ καὶ καρπῶν ἀφορίαις καὶ θρεμμάτων ἀγονίαις. ὕσθη δὲ καὶ σταγόσιν αἵματος ἡ πόλις, ὥστε πολλὴν προσγενέσθαι τοῖς ἀναγκαίοις πάθεσι δεισιδαιμονίαν. ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ τοῖς τὸ Λαύρεντον οἰκοῦσιν ὅμοια συνέβαινεν, ἤδη παντάπασιν ἐδόκει τῶν ἐπὶ Τατίῳ συγκεχυμένων δικαίων ἐπί τε τοῖς πρέσβεσι φονευθεῖσι μήνιμα δαιμόνιον ἀμφοτέρας ἐλαύνειν τὰς πόλεις. ἐκδοθέντων δὲ τῶν φονέων καὶ κολασθέντων παρ᾿ ἀμφοτέροις, ἐλώφησεν ἐπιδήλως τὰ δεινά· καὶ καθαρμοῖς ὁ Ῥωμύλος ἥγνισε τὰς πόλεις, οὓς ἔτι νῦν ἱστοροῦσιν ἐπὶ τῆς Φερεντίνης πύλης συντελεῖσθαι.

Petter Paul Rubens, Romulus and Remus

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