Word to your mother

In book I of the Aeneid,  Jupiter answers his daughter’s complaints about the unfair treatment of the Trojans. Speaking of Romulus and Remus (descendants of Aeneas), he says that Romulus,” rejoicing in the tawny hide of his nursemaid, a she-wolf, will build walls…” yada yada (Inde lupae fulvo nutricis tegmine laetus …).

A lot of people are aware of the story of Romulus and Remus being raised by a wolf. In fact, the Victorians added the two children under this Etruscan-era bronze statue of a wolf because of the story (it was probably just an apotropaic figure). However, I learned today that there is a rival narrative. Romulus and Remus may have been raised by a lupa – but that word doesn’t only mean ‘she-wolf’, it also means a lady of the night – a prostitute! I had no clue until class today when my professor told me that the word has both me

anings.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Word to your mother

  1. Joshua McManaway

    I know! Apparently some later Latin authors pick up on this, so I’m going to try to find that and write about it.

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