AB URBE CONDITA: The Tarpeian Rock and geese of the Capitol


Of the 7 hills on which Rome is, the capitol is perhaps the most linked to the historical events of the city, since ancient times as a fulcrum of political and religious activities in Rome.

Legend has it that at the time of the foundation of Rome, the hill was conquered by the Sabines through the treachery of the Roman Tarpea. Tarpea had no luck, however, and was in turn betrayed by the same Sabines that, once inside, killed her with their shileds. This is the legend, but most likely Tarpea was nothing more than a tutelary deity of the oldest hill of the Capitol, Mons Tarpeium, which seems to arise out of the statue of the deity. Throughout antiquity the Mons Tarpeium was sadly used as a ravine from which they were precipitated all those who were accused of treason.

But the most famous episode which covers the Capitol is certainly linked to the invasion of July 18, 390 BC, the day when the Romans were defeated by the Gauls. They reached Rome and robbed, with the exception of the Capitol was saved from the robery and held out for a few months. Legend has it that the night attack of the Gauls was foiled thanks to the squawking of the Capitoline geese kept in the sacred precincts of the temple of Juno: the Capitol was saved by his geese!

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