CARRACCI, Lodovico
(b. 1555, Bologna, d. 1619, Bologna)

Romulus and Remus Suckled by the Wolf

Palazzo Magnani, Bologna

This scene is part of the frescoed frieze painted in 1588-91 by the Carracci in the salone on the piano nobile of the Palazzo Magnani in Bologna. The frieze depicts in 15 scenes the stories of the founding of Rome. The iconographical program of the frieze precisely follows the story of "Parallel Lives" by Plutarch. Each scene is accompanied by a motto written on a scroll beneath each box.

One of the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. The twin brothers were purported to be sons of the Rhea Silvia and Mars, the god of war. Because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their murderous uncle, they were abandoned at birth and put into a basket that was then placed into the River Tiber. The basket ran aground and the twins were discovered by a female wolf. The wolf nursed the babies for a short time before they were found by a shepherd. The shepherd then brought up the twins.

When Romulus and Remus became adults, they decided to found a city where the wolf had found them. The brothers quarrelled over where the site should be and Remus was killed by his brother. This left Romulus the sole founder of the new city and he gave his name to it – Rome. The date given for the founding of Rome is 753 BC.

Romulus and Remus Suckled by the Wolf is the first scene of the cycle. It was executed by Lodovico Carracci. The motto beneath the scene reads: "LAESI NON NECATI ALIMVR" (Wounded, not killed, we are fed).