The foundation of Rome, the “fatal furrow” traced by Romulus and the killing of Remus who had dared to cross it, are no longer taught at school. But what was the point of tracing a furrow, and why such a severe punishment for the transgressor? Romulus, in fact, kills Remus who, by not accepting the choice of the place of foundation, laughs at his brother, deciding to climb over the furrow just traced (or perhaps the primitive walls under construction). What can be the current significance of such an event?
Rome, as Carrandini states, was not instituted out of thin air; a fundamental characteristic of the bank of the Tiber river where Rome was founded is that it is a borderland, a territory confining with very different cultural centers, but at the same time a territory of passage and exchange. To the south, in the Albani mountains, there was the Latin Community, to the east, the Sabines, of Umbrian descent, to the north, the Etruscans. All communities of immigrants occupying the spaces where the “Aborigines” used to live, of which very little is known, perhaps of lineage similar to that of the Ligurian population.
So, what does Romulus do? He does what Theseus had done centuries before in Athens, brings together the separated and distrustful peoples, and “unify” them. In order to bring together different tribes with different cultures, religious traditions, and languages, who distrust each other, what must Romulus do? He has to carry out a foundation ritual, so he traces a furrow to delimit the “pomerium” that is the place where the city walls would have risen.
Therefore, Rome, at the moment of its foundation, is a “non-place” that became a cit. Scattered communities without a name are united by means of a “ritual” so that everyone can accept that the stranger from the village on the opposite hill becomes a fellow citizen.
About ten years ago, along the sea at the north of Naples, I passed by the Litorale Domizio. The Litorale Domizio is also a non-place; it is an area built in the 70s for the exploitation of summer truism. The buildings are those typical of beach holidays, tall and colorful buildings, somewhat fanciful architectures. But something must have gone wrong, and at the time, when I passed it, it was only a place of lodging for immigrants of various ethnic groups, probably engaged in petty crime or working as a labor force in the nearby countryside.
A non-place, a “septimontium” that today would need a name and a ritual of foundation, to ensure that those peoples, those men (those ‘occupiers’) would find a sense in becoming a community.
If those people, those scattered communities of dispossessed foreigners who occupy the Litorale Domizio were called to vote to set up a municipal council or a mayor to represent them. If they were consulted to hear what their needs are (schools, gyms, services ), they would immediately become citizens and would become connected with their city.
It is said in the foundation of Rome (ad urbe condita) part of the ritual consisted in making a hole in the ground, into which each of the tribes threw a bit of land from their place of origin. Then the priest pronounced the official name of the city (Rome) and the “secret” name (Rome had a second “secret” name to prevent enemies from invoking evil spells aimed at its destruction).
For this new city I propose the name of Concordia; as for the secret name, that just can’t be said …..
Avv. Pietro Ferrari
Link to full article (Italian)