The Beginnings…..

Time Period:  573BC

I am about three weeks into my study of the parallels between Christian church history and the history of the Roman empire. I was hoping to find a “people’s history” of Rome for a source but have been unsuccessful in that regard. I now have about five sources of info but there really is little documented evidence of how the common man lived during this time. There are a few accounts from Roman soldiers but they are pretty much limited to their time in the military.

Here is what Simon Baker in his book Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire says about that:

Modern professional historians tend to stress how little we know about the Roman world. True, we are almost completely in the dark about what life was like for the slum dwellers of the city (though we can make a fair guess!) or for peasants struggling to find a livelihood in the countryside. And we are not much better off when it comes to understanding the feelings of women or slaves, or how the Roman empire’s balance of payments actually worked, or – for that matter – what Romans wore under their togas or how they disposed of their sewage (the miracles of Roman drainage have, I am afraid, been grossly exaggerated). 

As is common with many historical accounts Roman history is primarily focused on the wars fought and not the citizens themselves. This hampers my ability to see any parallels between Roman citizens and Christians. So, although I will lack some comparisons at the people level I still will be able to try to see just what was happening in the Roman Empire from their beginning and how they were grappling with their little Jesus followers problem later on.

Lets start out with this study of Rome here with some origin stories.

The Roman state was unofficially founded in 753BC by two brothers Romulus and Remus. These two brothers were at the head of a small band of renegades who were dug into a defensive position in a tiny village. It seems that for some reason the two brothers quarreled and Romulus killed his twin brother.  Romulus then opened up his camp for all comers including exiles, runaway slaves and criminals. So, according to this story Rome was  originally a city populated almost entirely by asylum-seekers and almost all of them were men.

Mr. Baker said early in his book said this about this story:

We have no idea how much of this lurid tale is actually true. The precise date of 753 is the result of an elaborate and frankly unreliable calculation more than five hundred years later by Roman scholars…

When I read this story I immediately thought of about closely relates to the first two brothers in the Jewish Torah or Old Testament as we Christians call it.   Here is that account:

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  Genesis 4:8

Much like many of the early stories in the Old Testament the story of Romulus and his brother is thought to be myth that was passed down by mouth from generation to generation before being finally recorded.

Next time we will move on to when Rome was ruled by kings.

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