Deos – “Lupa Mater”

Day 4 of 7 Days of Roman Founders. Today let’s look at a French band’s take on the Roman foundation myth. Deos is another band who go all in with Roman themes, and their debut album, 2015’s Ghosts of the Empire, naturally begins at the beginning. This opening track (following an instrumental intro) takes its name from perhaps the most miraculous element of the Romulus & Remus myth, the she-wolf (lupa) who nursed the abandoned twins as a surrogate mother (mater). That is not to say that they were “raised by wolves,” as the boys were soon discovered by a farmer named Faustulus, who adopted them as his own together with his wife Acca Laurentia. Only when the boys grew up did they later discover their true identity as heirs to the throne of Alba Longa. Despite the brief intervention of the lupa, the Romans subsequently considered the wolf to be part of their national character, a symbol for Rome itself as a fierce protector of its own.

Some ancient authors find it implausible that a wolf would spontaneously nurse human babies. Pompeius Trogus is willing to accept it, but adds that the wolf had recently lost her own pups, and that her udders became so swollen that it brought her relief to give suck to any chance animals. A few other authors, however, would rather rationalize the myth by suggesting that it’s a symptom of the “disease of language” (a term used by early modern mythologists). The Latin word ‘lupa’ can mean not only ‘she-wolf’ but could also be a euphemism for ‘prostitute’. And that was the profession practiced by Acca Laurentia, the wife of the farmer who discovered the twins washed up on the Tiber’s banks and adopted them.

Whatever you choose to believe, the wolf is a fitting national animal for the Romans, for better or worse.

Lupa Mater
Mother of Rome

By the will of the gods
Along the Tiber river
The wolf meets the twins
The fate is written
Two children were born
Creator of Rome

Lupa Mater
Mother of Rome

The wolf nurses us
The holy bird guards us
I have to kill my brother
To built a mighty Empire
As a god reign on his land

Lupa Mater
Mother of Rome

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