Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Jay and I went to a Scotch tasting. It all tasted like burning to me, but apparently various years were supposed to be reminiscent of orange groves, macadamia nuts, figs, and cherry blowpops. Anyway, the point is, we each had a few shots of a malt that apparently sells for $850 a bottle.

SCOTT: You know, Jay, I've been thinking.

JAY: About?

SCOTT: About the founding of Rome. Now, as I remember, the city was founded by Romulus and Remus. And some prophet said to them--"Look, we'll name it after whoever sees a sign." So the brothers walk off in opposite directions. Remus saw six white doves, and he figured, "Hey, I saw the sign." But Romulus went off and saw twelve white doves, and he thought: "I saw the sign!" Then they fought, because Remus said he was first and Romulus said he saw more, and Romulus killed Remus. So they named the city "Rome." Anyway, the point is, if Remus had won the fight, the city would have been called "Ream." So, in retrospect, it's good Romulus won.

I was going by memory. Here's how Wikipedia describes the event. You can evaluate the strength of my recollection.

Once Romulus and Remus arrived at the Palatine Hill, the two argued over where the exact position of the city should be. Romulus was set on building the city upon the Palatine, but Remus wanted to build the city on the strategic and easily fortified Aventine Hill (The Greek author Dionysius, however, places Remus' location at a place named "Remoria" after Remus himself. The precise location of Remoria is not known today). They agreed to settle their argument by testing their abilities as augurs and by the will of the deities. Each took a seat on the ground apart from one another, and, according to Plutarch, Remus saw six vultures (which were considered to be sacred to Mars, their father), while Romulus saw twelve.

Remus was enraged by Romulus’s victory. He claimed that since he had seen his six vultures first, he should have won. When Romulus began digging a trench (or building a wall, according to Dionysius) where his city's boundary was to run on April 21, 753 BC, Remus ridiculed some parts of the work, and obstructed others. At last, Remus leapt across the trench, an omen of bad luck, since this implied that the city fortifications would be easily breached. In response, Remus was killed.

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