On April 21, Saturday, Rome celebrated it’s 2,765th birthday! According to legend on April 21st, 753 BC the city (and what would soon be one of the greatest empires of the world) was founded by Romulus. The founding legend is quite gory and questionable, there’s fratricide (Romulus kills brother Remus over arguments of where the city should be), rape (the boys’ mother was supposedly “raped” by god Mars and out of fear, gave up the boys), and a motherly wolf who cared for them but, in ancient Rome, a wolf was considered the lowliest of animals. Not to mention that in Rome’s beginnings the city was populated with criminals who resorted to stealing other communities’ women in order to populate their own (aka the Rape of the Sabine Women).
Today, we look past this legend and celebrate what the city has become. Over the weekend there were all sorts of festivities - including a reenactment of Rome’s history in the “Circus Maximus” (the ancient chariot racing arena). For about an hour and a half, Romans dressed in ancient garb acted out several of the most important parts of the city’s history, complete with Italian Army Band background music.
The abbreviated history went something like this: Romulus kills Remus and founds a great new city. Then, Julius Caesar takes power, is promptly killed in the senate house, and Marc Anthony gives the long-winded Shakespeare “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ear…” speech. Forget the next few steps of the founding of the empire because then Emperor Nero kills all the Christians, and Rome is sacked and destroyed in 475 AD. I’m not sure what happened in between 475 AD and the 1900s because apparently the next important stop on Rome’s timeline regards the city’s involvement in WWI & WWII. (I have to hope I just missed them mentioning Vittorio Emmanuele!) Then - yay! What a great city! Pucini wrote an opera about Rome, so in true Italian fashion, it must be sung. And it was. Gotta love the Italians, and Romans for that matter, they sure know how to highlight the best of the city!
It was quite entertaining though, my friend and I enjoyed laying in the grass in the sun and practicing our Italian skills as many of the speeches used tenses not commonly used in spoken Italian. It felt very much like 4th of July - picnic blankets, sunbathers and dogs running around just except for Uncle Sam wearing the stars and stripes there were men in togas.