Race and the Myth of the Origins of Rome II

Romulus and Remus with she-wolf

This is the second and concluding part of the essay by Julius Evola on the race and origins of Rome.

He points out the symbolism of fig tree, which was also the tree associated with the Buddha’s awakening. The next symbol is the She-Wolf who suckles the twin babies. The wolf curiously has a dual symbolism: it can represent both the forces of light and the forces of darkness. This is often depicted as the battle between order, or Logos, with Chaos.

It is interesting to point out that the primal symbol of the wolf has been replaced in our time with the lap dog.

The spirit of Rome is exemplified by the manifestation “of a principle of light and of order, of an ethic and a vision of life that is witness to the Aryan spirit”. Here it is made clear that the Roman race is known through its spirit, not its genetics. So before constructing our Republic, it is necessary to describe that principle, ethic, and vision.

⇐ Return to Part I

The twins find refuge near the fig tree [Ficus Ruminalis] and are suckled by a She-wolf. The word Ruminal contains the idea of feeding: the quality of Ruminus, related to Jupiter, alluded to the quality of “nourisher”, of the “god who gives nourishment” in the ancient Latin language. But this is the most elementary aspect of the symbol. In general, in the most ancient traditions of the Aryan races, the tree is the symbol of universal life, it is the tree of the world or the cosmic tree. If it is in form of a fig tree as it appears in the legend of Roman origins, precisely as a “fico indico” [Banyan tree] – the ashwattha tree – it is depicted as upside-down in the Indo-Aryan tradition to express that its roots are from above, in the “heavens”. The idea of a mystical food from the tree is a often recurring theme: the myth of Jason, Hercules, Odin, Gilgamesh, etc. Naturally, according to the races and their spirit, this then presents diverse variations. We know from the Hebraic myth that to pick and eat from the tree in order to make oneself like god is considered as the principle of guilt, abuse of power, and a curse. Things are conceived in a very different way in the myths of the Aryan races and even in the paleo-Chaldean myth of Gilgamesh. Also, in the legends of the Ghibelline Middle Ages, the heroic theme prevails and the tree often appears as that of the universal empire, reaching it in the symbolic lands of the mysterious Prester John means insuring the same dignity that the ancient Ario-Iranian rulers associated with the title of “king of kings”.

Returning to our main subject, in the myth of the twins at the origins of Rome, we therefore have the allusion to a supernatural food from the Tree—but also from the She-wolf. The symbol of the She-wolf, considered in its entirety and in all the stories that refer to it, has an ambiguous character. Lucian and Emperor Julian recall that, in the ancient world, on the basis of the phonetic resemblance between the two words, the idea of the wolf [lupo] and of light [luce] are often associated: lykos, which in Greek means world, sound like lyke, light. But there are also figurations of the wolf as a hellish animal, as a dark force. The Wolf thus appears to us in the double aspect, symbol of a ferocious and savage nature and also as the symbol of a luminous nature. This duality is verifiable, not only in Hellenic-Mediterranean prehistory, but also in the Celtic and Nordic. In fact, on the one hand in the Nordic-Celtic and Delphic cults the “wolf” is connected to Apollo, i.e., to the Hyperborean, Nordic-Aryan god, simultaneously conceived as the solar god of the golden age and significantly associated by Virgil with Roman greatness. “Sons of the wolf”, on this basis, was a designation for warrior and heroic peoples of Nordic-Germanic origins, designations that persisted even to the epoch of the Goths and Nibelungs. Yet, on the other hand, in the Edda, the “age of the Wolf” signifies a dark age, marking the epoch of the outbreak of savage and elementary forces, almost of the power of chaos, against the forces of the “divine heroes”, or Æsir.

Now we can certainly also relate this duality to the principle that, according to the legend of origins, “fed” the two twins insofar as we see it reflected in their very nature, that is, in the antagonistic duality of Romulus and Remus, as related to us in the myth. As others already noticed, so also the theme of a single principle from which an antithesis is differentiated, whether depicted by the antagonism of two brothers of twins or, in general, of a couple, is found again in many traditions, and not rarely in respect to particularly significant moments for the origins of a given civilization, race, or religion. For example, we only recall that in the ancient Egyptian tradition Osiris and Set are two brothers of discord – sometimes conceived as twins—and one incarnates the luminous power of the sun, the other, a dark, “infernal”, principle, whose generation is called the “sons of the impotent revolt”. Does not something similar also show through perhaps in the Roman legend? Romulus is the one who marks the contour of the city as the meaning of a sacred rite and a principle of limit—of order, of law—having received the right of putting his name to the city from the apparition of the solar number, of the twelve vultures. Remus is instead the one who violates such a limit and is killed for this reason. One could say that the primordial force of Roman origins thus are differentiated and destroys the “dark” powers that contained in themselves, affirms in its luminous aspect of order, Olympian domination, purified warrior force.

There have been attempts to see in the contrast between Romulus and Remus the reflection of the contrast between opposed Aryan racial forces, or of the Aryan type, and non-Aryan or pre-Aryan types. Research of this kind is without doubt interesting: problematic in its conclusions, if it intends to remain exclusively on the plane of material facts, or archeological and anthropological evidence. It has greater possibilities if it also penetrates the myth and legend in order to extract elements that integrate research in other domains. Naturally, in order to accomplish that, it also needs to resolve to outline general frameworks of various aspects of ancient Roman society, considering, for example, with various writers, somewhat probable that the social system of castes of ancient Rome had a racial substrate.

In this totality, it is interesting to examine the link between the two principles, whose symbolic figurations could well be Romulus and Remus, with the two hills Palatine and Aventine. The Palatine is, as we know, Romulus’ hill and the Aventine is Remus’. Now, according to the ancient Italic tradition, on the Palatine, Hercules met the good king Evander (who significantly founded a temple of the goddess Victoria on the same Palatine hill) after having killed Cacus, son of the Pelasgian (pre-Aryan) god of the subterranean fire: and Hercules conquered and killed in Cacus’ cave, located in the Aventine, and erected an altar to the Olympic god, to whom he was allied according to the Hellenic myth. Researchers like Piganiol, are of the opinion that this duel between Hercules and Cacus—with the corresponding opposition of the Palatine and Aventine hills—could be a mythic transcription of the battle waged by peoples of opposing races.

The mythic legend of the origins of Rome is therefore saturated with deep meaning. The triumph of Romulus and the death of Remus is the key to the origin hidden in Romanity—and the first episode of a dramatic, outer and inner, spiritual, social and racial battle, in part known, in part still enclosed in symbols or in events not yet penetrated with respect to their most essential aspect—almost, we will say: with respect to the “third dimension”. Through this secular battle Rome rises gradually and asserts itself in the world as triumphal manifestations of a principle of light and of order, of an ethic and a vision of life that, in its original and uncorrupted forms, is witness to the Aryan spirit. And we know what it is, according to the most widespread tradition, the conclusion of the legend of origins: it is the apotheosis of Romulus, Romulus deified,

“he returned from the earth to heaven after his mortal part was destroyed by means of the dazzling fire.”

So what has been treated is neither fantasy, nor poetry, nor rhetoric. Analogous explanations recur in the traditions of all peoples, according to a uniformity that should lead anyone to reflection. Also in regards to Romulus, the myth contains a faith and a spiritual certainty: it is the meaning of a reality that, freed from the person and symbol, was not once, but will always be, and will always be present, in its greatness beyond history, the race that knows how to recall the “mystery”.

14 thoughts on “Race and the Myth of the Origins of Rome II

  1. “If it is not a rigid rule…”

    Why should it be rigid? Men will freely, the formerly good can become corrupt without immediate physical reflections of this corruption because the physical world has its own rules that must play out in their own time. So a formerly noble man with corresponding body is now corrupted, and the consequences will develop in time according to the rules of degeneration. This is but one example for you, there are many more, hence it is not a rigid rule.

    “And can you please clarify what “a high race” is…”

    A race is high in proportion to its faithful contact with the transcendent through a living tradition. A low race is one that, through decadence, has lost such contact to a greater or lesser extent. A savage race is one that has degraded to a semi-animal state of life due to an almost complete severance from active participation in the Higher Realms. But it also depends on one’s personal orientation and sympathies, and this is irreducible, that’s why war is sometimes necessary.

    “If “the normal standard” can disappear in reality, it can not be considered as a standard at all…”

    I knew a man who had normal visual acuity, as Wikipedia says: “Normal visual acuity is commonly referred to as 20/20 vision”. When I met him again some years later, he needed spectacles to see 20/20. Evidently the normal standard can disappear, the only question is how. Don’t be a muddlehead.

    “Semitic people and East Asians have built some greatest civilizations…shouldn’t all these count in “the normal standard”?”

    Indeed, Evola placed certain groups of Arabs, Indians and East Asians above Europeans generally in the hierarchy of races, and if I find the quote in good time I’ll post it for you. You clearly misunderstand the ideal of a normal standard. What is the normal standard for East Asians is different to that of, say, Indian Aryans, once we depart from metaphysical considerations and their immediate relations. The points are two: 1) At their heights, the great races meet in principle, hence the focus on esoterica; 2) To become fully what one is, to tend toward perfection, is the noble quest, and this is why other standards are investigated, like Absolute Man/Woman, Race, etc.

    “That is what I said of his contraries…the species which should be the perfect example of his theory.”

    It’s not contrary. You are still treating it as though he were a mere biological racist. The whole point is that Europe and her men failed to manifest the superior possibilities that were potentially hers, based on consideration of her lineage, so today they cannot be considered an example of what he considers good.

    Ultimately though, there is no need to fuss over it. Although Evola considered these things important, we live in a time of universal religions, so things like race can immediately be subordinated to the spiritual if one wishes to do so. For example, both Islam and Christianity have no objection in principle to those who disassociate themselves from any racial consideration. So you might like to say that Evola’s ideas are limited because I can still marry a Papuan woman and have a son with her, and our family will still be able to live piously and attain the spiritual. True enough, but it all depends on how one wants to live, the old “personal equation” thing.

  2. “Is hidden in myth the particular or the principial? You said particular, I say principial. That is the inversion.”

    What myth should reflect is principal, myth itself is particular. And the former is still not the absolutely principal, it is the particularly principal.

    “It was also used in the Tipitaka.”

    Maybe it was mentioned in Buddhist scriptures in various instances, but in Buddhism there exist some far more clearly spiritual standards such as Arhat and Boddisatva, which totally devoided of any racial references. In Buddhism it is the latter used as the general standard of spiritual achievements, not the term “Aryan”.

    “Evola’s use tended away from the limited scope of the academics of his age and toward the broader meaning.”

    I think in his usage of the term “Aryan” in his books, there are indeed some instances that it represents that “broader meaning” which you mentioned, but for some other instances, there exists no difference between his usage and the general meaning of this this term in his age.

    “His use could thus be called a rectification by those who understand.”

    I think even himself didn’t totally understand the obscure meaning of this term he used, otherwise there would not exist so many contraries in his books.

    “Consistency between spirit and bodily form is the normal standard of a high race (but even then it is not a rigid rule, we are not here in the realm of mathematics or metaphysics)”

    If it is not a rigid rule, it can not be called as “the normal standard”.

    And can you please clarify what “a high race” is, has it truly existed in the known history?

    “but the whole point of the CRISIS OF MODERNITY is that the normal standard has all but disappeared.”

    If “the normal standard” can disappear in reality, it can not be considered as a standard at all, a standard should be effective in all circumstances.

    And, to take one step back, even if modernity doesn’t count, in the past history was it so that all Indo-European people which were racially unmixed always noble and spiritual? Always more noble and spiritual than all Non-Indo-European people?
    Semitic people and East Asians have built some greatest civilizations and empires which have ever existed, and nomadic mongoloid people were the greatest conquers before the age of firearms, shouldn’t all these count in “the normal standard”?

    “Indeed, I could even argue that he DESPISED the modern European more than most, in spite of their biology.”

    That is what I said of his contraries, on the one hand he talks about the importance of race and its relation with spirit, on the other hand he despises the species which should be the perfect example of his theory.

    “and to do so always entails a certain departure from principial unity, but that is life, that is action.”

    Life and action do not necessary mean “a certain departure from principal unity”, one can be active in life and action and still maintain a close adherence with principal unity in various degrees, the degree depends on one’s true spiritual level. To be active in politics is not an excuse for theoretical errors.

    The more one has made such departure from principal unity in action and life, the more his action and life are meaningless and ineffective.

    “As for the question of whether this ‘Aryan myth’, or his perspective on a solar spirituality, is simply a mental construct”

    I think in the truly initiated and formless high spiritual state, all such theories and terms as “Aryan myth” and “solar spirituality” would be superfluous.

    “Every man has his own nature and it is best that each develop according to his own understanding and abilities.”

    Yes, but the final goal is just One, no matter which way one chooses, in what theory, what slogan, it will finally go back to this One.

  3. X, English is apparently not your first language, so I’ll also wind up my participation, for want of clarity in this discussion.

    You wrote “…what is hidden in the myth is just an incomplete form of manifestation, a particular and historical manifestation.” I wrote “…its core, hidden from those who cannot see it, is the inexpressible principle.”

    Is hidden in myth the particular or the principial? You said particular, I say principial. That is the inversion.

    “The term “Aryan” he used was clearly from the general typology which was often used by academics of his age…”

    It was also used in the Tipitaka. Evola’s use tended away from the limited scope of the academics of his age and toward the broader meaning. His use could thus be called a rectification by those who understand.

    Consistency between spirit and bodily form is the normal standard of a high race (but even then it is not a rigid rule, we are not here in the realm of mathematics or metaphysics), but the whole point of the CRISIS OF MODERNITY is that the normal standard has all but disappeared. So, “Indo-Europeans” in body are not necessarily noble in spirit today, Evola explicitly stated as much. Indeed, I could even argue that he DESPISED the modern European more than most, in spite of their biology.

    Evola involved himself in the politics of his day far more than Guenon for instance, and to do so always entails a certain departure from principial unity, but that is life, that is action.

    As for the question of whether this ‘Aryan myth’, or his perspective on a solar spirituality, is simply a mental construct, or whether it was present on this earth in traditions past, that is something that no discussion can resolve. Every man has his own nature and it is best that each develop according to his own understanding and abilities.

  4. Ok, Mr. Salvo, now Mr. August has replaced you as my partner of our past discussion, we can start to discuss about your new topics.

    “Romulus represents the principle of order and light, or Logos, while Remus that of chaos. By the criterion used in Yoga of Power, then, Romulus represents the ‘Right Hand Path’ and Remus, the Left. Yet Evola seems enthralled by the latter”

    This what I said that in the mental and formal dimension as myths, there exists countless possibilities of misunderstanding, a certain content can be interpreted in numerous manners, there exists no absolute certainty.

    As I have said, I think Evola was mostly a scholar, he generally relied on mental analysis and contents from books to build his theory, he lacked that spiritual insight which can truly discern the differences between different metaphysical levels, therefore there exists countless contraries and vague points in his books.

    “Romulus represents an ‘ethic’. Yet Evola often condemns morality as ‘bourgeois’.”

    He can use similar words to describe completely different meanings, the former he perhaps means a formless spiritual reality, the latter as a formal and mental code of behaving.

    “Romans were a ‘very religious people’. Civic and private life were dominated by religious rites and ceremonies, led by priests. Virgil praised Aeneas more for his piety (or holiness) than his other virtues. Yet Evola was anti-priest and anti-pious.”

    I think Evola was mostly against that passive and dogmatic form of piety, as what is represented in Catholic Church. The holiness of Romans he praised should be a truly high spiritual state (at least in his mind).

  5. “If anything, it’s the inverse.The expressed myth takes a form, based on the characteristics of a given state of existence etc., but its core, hidden from those who cannot see it, is the inexpressible principle that organises the forms in the myth and raises it to the eternal in its essential aspect, absent which it would just be a prosaic story.”

    I am not totally sure what you want to exactly express here, I am not disagree with anythings you wrote in this paragraph. You only expressed what I also think, I can not understand where is the inverse.

    “but again you have an inversion.”

    Can you please tell me what it is?

    “He chiefly used the term Aryan when discussing a spiritual ideal not a physical race.”

    The term “Aryan” he used was clearly from the general typology which was often used by academics of his age, which clearly indicated Indo-European people, even if he sometimes added some “spiritual ideals” with it, it can not fundamentally change the root of this term. If it really is an absolute “spiritual ideal”, why didn’t he use the terms and myths of Non-Indo-European people to describe it?

    “He saw consistency between spirit and body as the normal standard”

    If there truly exists such absolute “consistency between spirit and body as the normal standard”, all Indo-European people which are racially unmixed should be noble and spiritual, always more noble and spiritual than any members of all Non-Indo-European people, is this true?

    “You aren’t really telling us what you take issue with exactly – what is the mistake in his ‘Aryan myth’?”

    His “Aryan myth” is a mental construction, like all mental constructions of rational age, they are the productions of scholars, of libraries, not of reality.

  6. Mr. X, if you want to criticize Julius Evola, there are better options you could have chosen. First of all, just because I make an essay available does not mean I agree with everything in that essay. Hence, I feel no need to defend its contents.

    For example, these would have been good topics for a discussion.
    1) Romulus represents the principle of order and light, or Logos, while Remus that of chaos. By the criterion used in Yoga of Power, then, Romulus represents the “Right Hand Path” and Remus, the Left. Yet Evola seems enthralled by the latter
    2) Romulus represents an “ethic”. Yet Evola often condemns morality as “bourgeois”.
    3) Romans were a “very religious people”. Civic and private life were dominated by religious rites and ceremonies, led by priests. Virgil praised Aeneas more for his piety (or holiness) than his other virtues. Yet Evola was anti-priest and anti-pious.

  7. Let me join the discussion then.

    “…what is hidden in the myth is just an incomplete form of manifestation…”

    If anything, it’s the inverse. The expressed myth takes a form, based on the characteristics of a given state of existence etc., but its core, hidden from those who cannot see it, is the inexpressible principle that organises the forms in the myth and raises it to the eternal in its essential aspect, absent which it would just be a prosaic story.

    “…he often claims it is the former [spiritual race], but in fact it often falls into the latter category [biological race]…”

    He used it in both senses, but again you have an inversion. He chiefly used the term Aryan when discussing a spiritual ideal not a physical race. He saw consistency between spirit and body as the normal standard, but made allowance for conditions prevailing today, hence the frequent emphasis on soul/body differentiation when discussing these matters. You aren’t really telling us what you take issue with exactly – what is the mistake in his “Aryan myth”?

  8. I am sorry, Mr. Salvo, I have to continue this discussion to its end, regardless of you want to respond it or not.

    “This is what Evola is getting at.”

    Can you please point out what exactly Evola is getting at in this article, where is “an eternal idea which will be intuitively recognized”?

    “Rather, the idea is embedded, or hidden, in the myth, so it is discernible only to those who make the effort to re-experience it.”

    No, the eternal idea is everywhere, what is hidden in the myth is just an incomplete form of manifestation, a particular and historical manifestation.

    And what Evola wrote here is not any experiences, it is mostly mental and scholarly analyses.

    ”Keep in mind that ’Aryan’ for Evola means a particular type of spiritual existence, not a biological race. ”

    Yes, he often claims it is the former, but in fact it often falls into the latter category. All these examples he mentioned here are strictly Indo-European, which should clearly show the meaning of term ”Aryan” he uses is ”a particular type of spiritual existence” or not.

    ”His conclusion is that the myth of Rome’s founding manifests ’a principle of light and of order, an ethic and a vision of life’. To convince anyone that that is a ’mistake’ would require a detailed counter-argument.”

    I didn’t say that this is a mistake, even if it is not a mistake in this case, it is still just a concept only remains on paper.

  9. Thank you for these translations, Cologero – this is valuable material.

    It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I wonder if Dante-specifically chose the She-Wolf as one of the beasts blocking the way out of the Dark Wood in the Divine Comedy as a reference to the She-Wolf in the story of Rome’s founding. It would be interesting to meditate on and investigate.

  10. Mr X, apart from some nitpicking over vocabulary, your objections are quite opaque. It doesn’t help to redefine the word “idea” in a way that we have not been using it. An idea may become a “mental form”, or even a word in speech in the attempt to express it. Sometimes I expect too much from readers, such as familiarity with the works often cited. For example, Tomberg quotes Hans Leisegang:

    Every myth expresses, in a form narrated for a particular case, an eternal idea which will be intuitively recognized by one who re-experiences the content of the myth.

    This is what Evola is getting at. Since you are not one of those who is able to re-experience the content of the myth, you have missed the point.

    So, of course, the myth “contains” the eternal idea. Were it a simple reflection, then anyone could understand it. Rather, the idea is embedded, or hidden, in the myth, so it is discernible only to those who make the effort to re-experience it.

    Your unsubstantiated opinions add nothing to the discussion. Keep in mind that “Aryan” for Evola means a particular type of spiritual existence, not a biological race. His conclusion is that the myth of Rome’s founding manifests “a principle of light and of order, an ethic and a vision of life”. To convince anyone that that is a “mistake” would require a detailed counter-argument. Unfortunately, I have to terminate this discussion since your sweeping generalizations are not at all helpful. Responding just wastes my time.

  11. Evola mostly relies on such mental and formal understanding of “spirituality”, that is why in his books there are countless mistakes, in my opinion, the biggest mistake is such “Aryan myth”.

  12. “Any idea, including a ‘spiritual certainty’, is potential only, and can only be actualized by being known.”

    “A spiritual certainty” can never be an “idea”, an idea is a concretely mental form which lacks any true certainties, a real certainty must be a living spiritual reality, which should be mentally “deformed”.

    “In this case, it can be known by understanding the meaning of the myth”

    Myth is also a concrete form, when it has already became a form, it has totally lost that direct reality and certainty, it just can roughly represent its origin, its essence, and there exists countless possibilities of being misunderstood.

    “but also in its eternal truth.”

    That “eternal truth” only can be reflected by myth, it can not be “contained” in it.

  13. Really, Mr X? Any idea, including a “spiritual certainty”, is potential only, and can only be actualized by being known. In this case, it can be known by understanding the meaning of the myth, not just temporally as referring to the origins of Rome, but also in its eternal truth. The former is a belief, the latter a spiritual certainty.

    I may retranslate it when I prepare it for print publication:
    “il mito contiene una fede e una certezza spirituale” perhaps as “the myth includes a belief and a spiritual certainty”. Yet nothing significant is changed.

  14. “Also in regards to Romulus, the myth contains a faith and a spiritual certainty”

    “A spiritual certainty” can not be contained by anything, if it has been contained, it is no longer a certainty.

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