Ficus Ruminalis


Ficus Ruminalis

The Ficus Ruminalis was a wild fig tree on the Palatine Hill in ancient Rome near the Lupercal on the Palatine. This tree was said to be sacred to the goddess Rumina. It is also the spot where tradition said the trough containing Romulus and Remus landed on the banks of the Tiber and were reared by a she-wolf.

Tradition said that this tree was removed by the augur Attus Navius and thenceforth stood on the Comitium. Ovid states that only vestigia remained on the original spot in his day, but Livy, in telling the story of the twins, says that the Ogulnii, aediles in 296 B.C., erected a monument that represented the twins and wolf, "ad ficum ruminalem". It has also been suggested that the Plutei of Trajan are from a small enclosure wall built around the Ficus Ruminalis and a statue of Marsyas.

It is possible that the site continued to be called Ficus Ruminalis, after the tree itself had disappeared. Ruminalis, according to one view, is to be connected with Ruma the Etruscan, the name from which Rome and Romulus are derived.

The Romans themselves, however, derived it from ruma, rumis, breast; and Herbig has put forward the view that "Roma" is the Latinised form, and as a proper name means "large-breasted," i.e. strong or powerful.

When the tree began to droop in 58AD it was seen as a bad portent for Rome.

[http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/R/RO/ROMULUS.htm 1911 Encyclopedia Entry for Romulus]


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