Birth and Childhood
Romulus and his twin brother Remus were demigods, the sons of Mars, god of war, and Rhea Silvia. Their grandfather, Numitor, was the king of Alba Longa, which was founded centuries ago by Numitor's ancestor, Ascanius, son of Aeneas. Amulius, Numitor's younger brother, seized the throne from Numitor and had his son, Lausus, killed; he then forced Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess dedicated to the goddess Vesta. Since Vestals were sworn to celibacy for a period of thirty years, this would ensure the line of Numitor had no heirs. However, Rhea was soon visited by the god Mars and concieved, giving birth to twin sons, Romulus and Remus. Upon discovering this, Amulius had Rhea thrown into prison and ordered her sons thrown into the River Tiber. The twins washed up onto dry land where they were found by the goddess/she-wolf, Lupa, who took them back to her cave (known as the Lupercale) and suckled them. Sometime later, they were discovered by a shepherd named Faustulus, who took them back to his home. During this time, the two learned of their past and, upon reaching adulthood, decided to restore their grandfather to the throne. The twins then set out to Alba Longa, where with the aid of their friends they killed Amulius and Numitor was reinstated as king of Alba Longa. Afterwards, the twins set out to build a city of their own.
Founding of A New City
An argument broke out over where exactly to build the city; Remus wanted to build the city on the Aventine Hill and name it Reme, and Romulus on the Palatine Hill. They decided to wait on their hills for an omen from the gods; while Remus saw six birds, Romulus saw twelve and decided to build his city at the designated spot. Remus then proceeded to mock his brother's walls by simply leaping over them. Enraged, Romulus killed his brother and a new city was founded, traditionally dated to be April 2, 753 BC. The city would be named Rome after him.
Rape of the Sabine Women
In an attempt to populate his newfound settlement, Romulus offered asylum to criminals, as well as other social outcasts, such as slaves who sought protection and those in debt. Though this served to increase the number of Rome's citizens, it created a problem, as most of the people were men. Romulus came up with a plan - he announced that a festival was to be held in honor of the god Neptune and invited all of the neighboring tribes to attend. Only a few tribes accepted the invitation, the Sabines being chief among them. In the midst of the festivities, the Sabine men became drunk (their wine had purposely been left undiluted) as Romulus and his men stole all of the Sabine women who were unmarried, taking them for their wives. The following day, after they had become sober, the Sabines discovered Romulus' treachery and, enraged, declared war against him and his people. The Sabines and the Romans were about to come blows when the Sabine women intervened, as they did not wish to see their fathers and brothers or their husbands die. The two sides then decided to seek reconciliation and end the fighting. The Romans and Sabines then joined together as one with Romulus ruling jointly alongside Titus Tatius, the king of the Sabines, until the latter was killed five years later.
King of Rome
As king of Rome, Romulus possessed absolute power; he served as commander-in-chief of the city's military, and was unable to be prosecuted or be brought to trial for his actions. He could also pass laws and call the people to assembly as well as preside over meetings. The Roman Senate, which was founded by Romulus, was a council that served to advise him in certain matters. Comprised of men chosen from among Rome's leading families, the Senate had little to no power or authority. The only thing that the king couldn't do was declare war against a foreign nation, for which he needed the approval of the Senate or the Curiate Assembly. Romulus died in 715 BC after ruling graciously for thirty seven years. He was succeeded by Numa Pompilius, who was chosen by the Sabines and elected by the Senate.
Upon his death, Romulus was deified as his cult became assimilated with that of Quirinus, a deity of Sabine origin. Later, a statue of him would be erected in the Pantheon, a temple dedicated to all the Roman gods and goddesses.