"Urbigonia". Sulle tracce di Romolo e del suo aratro

Gianluca De Sanctis


Unlike the Greeks and other Indo-European peoples, the Romans do not appear to have had a cosmogony, a theogony nor even an anthropogony. However, they did elaborate an "Urbigonia", that is, a mythological tale describing, in detail, how their city (urbs) was built - as if the city itself, not the world, was the starting point for Roman history and culture. One of the most interesting (and well discussed) images of the birth of Rome can be found in chapter 11 of the Life of Romulus by Plutarch, which is unique in representing the three fundamental spatial structures of the city – mundus, sulcus primigenius and pomerium – as somehow connected (even if rather confusedly). An analysis of these topographical realities, together with the study of the myths they refer to, point out the importance of spatial organization and more generally the notion of boundary in the mental grammar of Roman society.

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