When you turn 2772 years old, you don’t let the day pass unnoticed.
So Rome celebrated its 2772nd birthday this weekend with its usual parade, reenactments, and fireworks. You may recall that Rome, according to legend, was founded in about 750 BCE by Romulus, who, along with his twin brother Remus, was suckled by a wolf after having been abandoned and left in a basket on the Tiber River. After Remus was murdered, possibly by his brother in some versions of the story, Romulus went on to found Rome and its various civic institutions, and the wolf went on to become the symbol of the city.
Every year, Rome celebrates this occasion with activities that explicitly call to mind its gloried history and mythology. Not unlike our Civil War reenactors, there are elaborate pantomimes of prisoners and gladiators on the Circus Maximus. There is a very long parade with different groups playing specific roles,
the subtle distinctions of which were lost on me, but were probably well known to the local crowd. Even dogs got into the act, and a wolf showed up to represent her indispensable ancestor, without whom none of this would have occurred.It turns out that, also like Civil War reenactors and maybe like Philadelphia’s own Mummers, there are groups of people that are regulars, who ride the circuit playing the role of a particular contingent. When the events were over, I saw them loading up the buses with their gear and costumes, and heading home. Even the dogs seem to be professionals, with their own vehicles.