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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 21

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 21.—Of the Kings of Latium, the First and Twelfth of Whom, Æneas and Aventinus, Were Made Gods.

After Æneas, whom they deified, Latium had eleven kings, none of whom was deified.  But Aventinus, who was the twelfth after Æneas, having been laid low in war, and buried in that hill still called by his name, was added to the number of such gods as they made for themselves.  Some, indeed, were unwilling to write that he was slain in battle, but said he was nowhere to be found, and that it was not from his name, but from the alighting of birds, that hill was called Aventinus. 1144   After this no god was made in Latium except Romulus the founder of Rome.  But two kings are found between these two, the first of whom I shall describe in the Virgilian verse:

“Next came that Procas, glory of the Trojan race.” 1145

That greatest of all kingdoms, the Assyrian, had its long duration brought to a close in his time, the time of Rome’s birth drawing nigh.  For the Assyrian empire was transferred to the Medes after nearly thirteen hundred and five years, if we include the reign of Belus, who begot Ninus, and, content with a small kingdom, was the first king there.  Now Procas reigned before Amulius.  And Amulius had made his brother Numitor’s daughter, Rhea by name, who was also called Ilia, a vestal virgin, who conceived twin sons by Mars, as they p. 372 will have it, in that way honoring or excusing her adultery, adding as a proof that a she-wolf nursed the infants when exposed.  For they think this kind of beast belongs to Mars so that the she-wolf is believed to have given her teats to the infants, because she knew they were the sons of Mars her lord; although there are not wanting persons who say that when the crying babes lay exposed, they were first of all picked up by I know not what harlot, and sucked her breasts first (now harlots were called lupæ, she-wolves, from which their vile abodes are even yet called lupanaria), and that afterwards they came into the hands of the shepherd Faustulus, and were nursed by Acca his wife.  Yet what wonder is it, if, to rebuke the king who had cruelly ordered them to be thrown into the water, God was pleased, after divinely delivering them from the water, to succor, by means of a wild beast giving milk, these infants by whom so great a city was to be founded?  Amulius was succeeded in the Latian kingdom by his brother Numitor, the grandfather of Romulus; and Rome was founded in the first year of this Numitor, who from that time reigned along with his grandson Romulus.


Footnotes

371:1144

Varro, De Lingua Latina, v. 43.

371:1145

Æneid,vi. 767.


Next: Chapter 22

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