faustulus

3

Gemini Altar (Altar of the twins)

Ostia, Italy

0.84 x 0.84 m ,  1.10 m high

First day of October, 124 CE


A container for offerings or a statue was fastened on top with lead (the altar is explicitly called “altar” in an inscription, but it may have been re-used as a statue-base). The four corners are decorated with ram’s heads and wreaths. The front has a depiction of Mars, Venus (with goose and Amor), and Hymenaeus (the god of marriage). On the back we see Romulus and Remus, suckled by the she-wolf. They are found by two shepherds, Faustulus and Faustinus. This story is situated near the Palatine (the Lupercal), and the personification of the hill can be seen in the upper left part. In the lower right part is the personification of the Tiber. Jupiter’s eagle is present as well. On the sides of the altar are amorini, hauling the weapons and chariot of Mars. The amorini are moving towards the front side of the altar.

Pietro da Cortona (1596/7-1669)
“Romulus and Remus Given Shelter by Faustulus” (1634)
Oil on canvas
Baroque
Located in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus are legendary twin brothers, whose story tells the events that led to the founding of the city of Rome and the Roman Kingdom by Romulus. Faustulus was the shepherd who found the infants Romulus and Remus, who were being suckled by a she-wolf, known as Lupa, on the Palatine Hill. He, with his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the children.