Picture the scene: an idyllic hill in central Italy, a group of men sit, silently watching the afternoon sky. In the distance, though easily within sight, on another hill are another group. These men are all shepherds and followers of twins who had risen from nowhere to kill the king of Alba Longa and seize the throne for their own, declaring themselves the sons of Mars. Under their rule, Alba Longa had welcomed fugitives and run-away slaves and vagabonds of all stripes until it had grown so large that the twins had decided to found themselves a city. And here they reached, for the first time in their lives, a point of irreconcilable conflict: for reasons unclear, the city had to be named after only one twin; the other would have to submit to his brother. Neither willing to back down, they agreed to let the gods decide between them by sending an omen. The omen they requested was vultures, and now they, with their followers, sat, waiting and watching, glowering across the valley. You already know the names of these twins: Romulus and Remus.
- From A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome by Emma Southon