day politicians could take a lesson from Romulus. You see,
he was probably the first to understand and use events to
his advantage Long before we ever heard of special
prosecutors, CNN, tabloid press, aspiring investigative
reporters and network news anchors, A the spectacles was the
vehicle used to report events. The master spin doctor,
Romulus, learned to manipulate Athe spectacles to sway
public opinion and create his god-like image. All by
mastering his own version of a sound bite and early public
relations. It has been said that events in Rome were staged.
In fact, they believed that all the world was a stage and A
life was like a play to be acted out. The event often
defined the individual and the spectacle" can be
an insight to a person's character, moral fiber, their
nature, and their compassion for mankind.
The model for
the spectacle goes back to the very beginnings of
Rome. Romulus and Remus were the first to use the spectacle
to further their own agendas. After the new settlement was
established, the time to chose a leader was at hand. Legend
would have it that the gods would give a sign to the brother
who was the chosen leader. Each took up camp on their
respect hills; Romulus on the Palentine, and Remus on the
It was time to
decide who would rule this new town, and all waited with
anticipation for the sign to come.
The first to
receive a sign was Remus. His auspex witnessed six vultures
which was a grand sign. However, Romulus' interpreter
sighted twice the amount of birds. The brothers fought over
the outcome and Remus was killed. Through the use of augury
and the staging of this divination, the grandness of this
spectacle set the stage for Romulus' rise to power. The use
of the spectacle was the first of many in the life of
Livy in The Early
History of Rome recounts several incidents of spectacle in
the life of Romulus. As the growth of Rome continued, this
settlement was to survive only if certain measures were
Women for potential
mates through inter-marriage and treaties with Rome's
neighbors would all be necessary. The neighboring clans
resented and feared the Latins. But once again the use of
the spectacle and staging was put into play to ensure the
success of power of the new kingdom. It was essential that
the new Romans put their plan to work and achieve their
mission. "Romulus, seeing it must come, set the scene
for it with elaborate care.......he prepared to celebrate
the Consualia, a solemn festival in honour of Neptune....and
sent notice of his intention all over the neighboring
countryside. The better to advertise it, his people lavished
up their preparations for the spectacle all the resources-at
their command. On the appointed day crowds flocked to Rome,
partly, no doubt, out of sheer curiosity to see the new
town." (Livy pg. 43)
Romulus used the
feast as the back drop for the deception. Any and all Romans
could obtain wives that they were not able to secure through
diplomatic channels. By throwing open the gates of the city,
Romulus showed to the neighboring people just what Rome had
to offer. All the neighboring settlements of Caenina,
Custumium, and Antemnae were provided with hospitality and a
show. And all the Sabine were there as well. The last thing
that anyone suspected that it was just a trick to get the
Sabine Women into Rome.
By securing the
Sabine Women for his people, Romulus once again showed the
power of his reign. And he did so through the use of staging
the events to play into his agenda. By staging this
spectacle, not only did Romulus ensure the continuation of
Rome but it also ensured the continuation of his leadership.
The Roman men were happy to have secured wives. And the
hostages themselves, eventually gave up their resentment.
The families of the
women were however less than forgiving. The parents
according to Livy,"began to stir up trouble in
earnest." (pg. 45).
War was inevitable,
"the men of Caenina invaded Roman territory... Romulus
himself cut down their prince and stripped him of his arms,
then, their leader dead, took the town at the first assault.
The victorious army returned, and Romulus proceed to dispose
of the spoils...he took the armour...and carried it to the
Capitol, where, by an oak which the shepherds regarded as a
sacred tree, he laid it down as an offering to Jupiter. At
the same time he determined on the site of a plot of ground
consecrated to the God Jupiter..." (pg. 45).
At this point he
uttered a prayer or command that all future leaders would
dedicate the spoils of victory to the Gods.
It would seem that
through this act of the offering of armour in some way
absolved Romulus of the rape of Sabine women and the carnage
of the battle caused from it. This particular spectacle
lifted Romulus to the level of a holy man. It set him up for
all others to follow. He turned this opportunity for himself
into establishing his greatness. Romulus was in reality a
despicable character. He developed the art of spectacle and
all others that came after him could take lessons. He was a
con man, murderer and rapist yet he knew how to use the
events to his advantage. He used the art of the spectacle
and his charismatic nature to persuade and nurture the
common everyday people to love and revere him as a god. They
would follow him anywhere and on any assault.
Even the Sabine
women came to his defense. First, by taking the blame for
their plight, then by making pleas to their families to halt
the war and finally by stopping the strife. They united the
two peoples under Romulus' rule. A monarchy that lasted for
over 40 years.
Throughout the life
and times of Romulus, he learned to master the art of the
spectacle. This mastery enabled him to maintain his power,
control the masses, and to set Rome on the way to domination
of the entire region.
According to Livy,
even in death Romulus was able to create the spectacle. To
the very end Romulus was a showman, even with this passing.
You see, he ascended to heaven in a rain cloud. This final
spectacle was interpreted to prove he was a son of a god,
and truly a master of the spectacle.