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p208 Ficus Ruminalis

Article on p208 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.


Ficus Ruminalis: the fig tree that stood close to the Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus were washed ashore and suckled by the she-wolf (Varro, LL V.54; Serv. Aen. VIII.90; Fest. 270, 27; Plin. NH XV.77; Plut. Rom. 4). Tradition said (see above) that this tree was removed by the augur Attus Navius and thenceforth stood on the Comitium. Ovid (Fast. II.411 ff.) states that only vestigia remained on the original spot in his day, but Livy, in telling the story of the twins, writes (I.4): ubi nunc ficus Ruminalis est. Elsewhere (X.23.12) he says that the Ogulnii, aediles in 296 B.C., erected a monument that represented the twins and wolf, ad ficum ruminalem. It is possible that the site continued to be called ficus Ruminalis, after the tree itself had disappeared (HJ 38; RE VI.2147‑2148). Ruminalis, according to one view, is to be connected with Ruma1 the Etruscan gentile name from which Rome and Romulus are derived (Schulze, Lat. Eigenn. 580‑581; WR 242; RE I. A. 1225). The Romans themselves, however, derived it from ruma, rumis, breast (Fest. loc. cit.; cf. Rumina, the goddess of nursing, and Varro, RR II.11.5: mamma enim rumis sive ruminare); and Herbig has put forward the view that Roma is the Latinised form, and as a proper name means 'large-breasted,' i.e. strong or powerful (BPW 1916, 1440 ff., 1472 ff.; summarised by Nogara in DAP 2.xiii.279 and BC 1916, 141).


The Authors' Note:

1 The evidence, however, is insufficient: for the late brick-stamp (CIL IX.6083.30) is susceptible of another interpretation — C. Sext(ili) Romaei Tusci. Corssen, followed by Guidi (BC 1881, 63, 73; cf. Serv. Aen. VIII.63) connected it with Rumon, river (see Tiber). Cf. also RAP IV.167‑177.


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