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.
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”.