Mowgli, pre-Kipling

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My generation grew up with Disney’s cartoon adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. But thousands of years before Mowgli was the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus.

In one version of the story (see here) the infants were set adrift in the Tiber River to die of exposure. But Tiberinus, the river-spirit, had pity on the boys and spared them. A she-wolf, coming down for a drink, heard their cry and tenderly nursed them in the wild (and did not eat them, as we would expect). Later, a shepherd found the boys and brought them home to his wife.

Other versions of the story suggest that the boys were not nursed through childhood by a true canine, but by a prostitute who was nicknamed the “she-wolf” (Lupa*) by the shepherds.

Hmmm. I’ve read elsewhere of links between Rome and “the Great Whore” (Try Rev 18 for starters). What is odd about this one is that it is arises from “the home team”! (then again, maybe it’s not so odd. When was the last time the Romans shied way from saucy tales?).

Needless to say this whole business gets quite unstable.

Since I mentioned this founding story of Rome in yesterday’s POTD (see here), I thought it appropriate to post a detail of a shot I took a couple of years ago when I was visiting the Louvre in Paris. This enormous statue pictured above (more than 3 meters in length) portrays the the reclining Tiberinus, cornucopia in hand. The base of the cornucopia, nipple-like, is the focal point of presentation. On one side is the face of the she-wolf. On the other are the feeding twins, Romulus and Remus. It is an expression of miraculous fertility.

This work of art was cut from marble by an unknown hand in the first or second century AD. It was found in Rome in the year 1512. It is thought to have been a part of a fountain display.

*Lupa is a she-wolf and Canis lupus is the scientific name for the wolf species. Livy gives the name Larentia to the wife of the shepherd. Larentia is a (madonna-like) character of classical art who often appears offering a breast to twin infants. See here, for example.


We have many travel experiences to Bible Lands planned in 2019 (see list here). These are often organized on behalf of educational institutions or for church groups. If you are a leader who is interested in crafting a unique travel opportunity for your organization or if you are an individual who would like to join a group, shoot me an email at