Certabant urbem Romam Remoramne vocarent

My (literary historical) conscience says I’ve done disservice to Ennius with two recent posts (Aurum ex stercore and O Tite, tute, Tati, tibi tanta, tyranne, tulisti) so here is a passage from book 1 of The Annals, as reported by Cicero in On Divination (1.107). This is – I think – the longest continuous bit of Ennius that survives.

That famous augury of Romulus was a pastoral art, not city bred, nor was it fabricated to sway the opinions of the ignorant, but was accepted by the knowledgeable and handed down to posterity. Thus Romulus, an augur, as he is in Ennius, along with his brother, also an augur:

being careful then with great care, each desiring
a kingdom, they together take the auspices and augury.
On the Murcus1 Remus sits in wait for a sign and watches
alone for a favorable flight; but handsome Romulus on the high
Aventine seeks and watches for the high-soaring race.
They were competing whether to call the city Roma or Remora.
All men were anxious over which would be their ruler.
They wait, as when the consul prepares to give
the signal, everyone eagerly looking to the starting gates
for how soon he sends the painted chariots from the barrier:
so the people were waiting, visible on each face a concern
for their affairs, to which the victory of supreme rule is given.
Meanwhile the sun had set into the depth of night.
Then struck by rays the shining light showed itself openly
and at once on high from far away a beautifully winged
leftward flight advanced. Just as the golden sun arises,
there comes descending from the sky a dozen blessed bodies
of birds, settling themselves on fine and favorable seats.
Thus Romulus sees that given to himself alone,
approved by auspices, were the base and bulwark of a kingdom.


atque ille Romuli auguratus pastoralis non urbanus fuit, nec fictus ad opiniones imperitorum sed a certis acceptus et posteris traditus. itaque Romulus augur, ut apud Ennium est, cum fratre item augure:

curantes magna cum cura tum cupientes
regni dant operam simul auspicio augurioque.
in Murco Remus auspicio sedet atque secundam
solus avem servat. at Romulus pulcer in alto
quaerit Aventino, servat genus altivolantum.
certabant urbem Romam Remoramne vocarent.
omnibus cura viris uter esset induperator.
expectant veluti consul quom mittere signum
volt, omnes avidi spectant ad carceris oras
quam mox emittat pictos e faucibus currus:
sic expectabat populus atque ore timebat
rebus utri magni victoria sit data regni.
interea sol albus recessit in infera noctis.
exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux
et simul ex alto longe pulcerrima praepes
laeva volavit avis. simul aureus exoritur sol
cedunt de caelo ter quattuor corpora sancta
avium, praepetibus sese pulcrisque locis dant.
conspicit inde sibi data Romulus esse propritim
auspicio regni stabilita scamna solumque.

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