Ancient History/Rome/Early Rome (the Seven Hills)

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The Tiber River[edit]

Rome sat on the eastern shore of the Tiber River, at the only easy crossing place between the river mouth and the mountains. Seven hills rose there out of low and marshy ground. By the beginning of the ninth century BCE, these seven hills were occupied by village communities who kept farms in the low-lying areas and retreated to their hilltops for defense.

The fording place on the river lay below a large island that was later dedicated to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius. Sometime in the sixth century BCE, the Romans under the direction of their Etruscan kings built a wooden bridge over the Tiber at this point, facilitating communications between northern and southern Italy, and joining the Etrurian confederation to the Greek colonial cities in the district of Magna Graecia.

The Seven Hills[edit]

Archaeology suggests that Rome began as a confederation of villages on the seven hills of Rome: the Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Viminal, Quirinal, Esquiline, and the Caelian. The low-lying ground between them was swampy and malarial. Yet the presence of a natural fording place gave Rome some unusual advantages. Once the seven villages united, and invested the time in constructing an early wall around their territory, they could charge a toll for the use of the ford (and later the bridge). This was to prove an early source of Rome's wealth. Graves dating from the ninth and eighth centuries BCE suggest two common forms of burial in the area: cremation graves are clustered in Rome's Forum or marketplace, with a smattering of inhumations around them; a much larger cemetery lay in the valley between the Esquiline and Viminal hills.

Tradition and myth provides a much more interesting, if less likely, story of Rome's founding. One of the Vestal Virgins of the nearby town of Alba Longa had a sexual encounter with the god Mars, and bore Romulus and Remus, twin sons who catalyzed the fortification of a small urban area in what is now Rome.

Capitoline[edit]

Capitoline hill has deep roots in Roman history as its existence is acknowledged in the stories concerning the founding of Rome.

Palatine[edit]

Aventine[edit]

Also known as the hill of souls, Aventine has produced many a rapist over the centuries. At one point in history, a seeker of rape would simply traverse the land until stumbling across the Aventine hills at which point they would be firmly sodomized to the background music of a bearded man mumbling the following:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The Forum[edit]