Stories from the Store From Rome with a coin

Kelly van Doorn

Yesterday marked the 2773rd anniversary of the legendary founding of Rome. I say “legendary” because all the best stories are… and as with all stories, it’s best to start at the beginning.

King Numitor ruled over Alba Longa, an ancient city in central Italy, until his younger brother Amulius usurped him and took the throne for himself. Amulius forced Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, to become a priestess of the goddess Vesta. The priestesses swore an oath to remain celibate for 30 years and so Amulius could ensure that Numitor would have no heirs.

At some point later (myths aren’t usually too concerned with the details), Rhea Silvia became pregnant after a liaison with the god of war, Mars and gave birth to twins, Romulus and Remus. Upon hearing of the birth, Amulius had Rhea Silvia thrown into prison and ordered the babies to be killed. Instead, they were left near the river Tiber. The god of the river, Tiberinus, carried them downstream to a she-wolf (Lupa) who had lost her cubs. Lupa suckled them until a shepherd found the boys and raised them as his sons. Later in life, Romulus and Remus went on to kill Amulius and restore their grandfather to the throne.

Having reinstated Numitor, they decided to found a city. They returned to the river bank where they had been left as babies and came to a site with seven hills.  A fight broke out over which hill would be better suited to building a city and Remus was killed. Romulus named the new city after himself and ruled as king for many years.

Obverse – Roma

A Roman coin found in Jevington depicts this very legend. On the reverse, it shows Romulus and Remus suckling from Lupa and on the front, too degraded to see, was an image of Roma (the female personification of Rome). This coin was one of two types minted post-330 AD by Constantine the Great as a way to commemorate the founding of his new capital city, Constantinople (named after himself, of course!). This coin type celebrated Rome as the original capital by depicting its origin story and Constantinople as the new city. Constantinople became the capital city for succeeding empires for over 1000 years!

Reverse – Romulus and Remus suckling from Lupa

Incredible to think that this tiny coin with such a long and complex history found its way to Jevington where it was picked up and brought to us at Heritage Eastbourne!

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