The Palatine – where Rome was founded
The Palatine Hill is the most important hill in Rome, it is where according to the foundation legends of Rome that Romulus and Remus, twin brothers were found and raised by a she-wolf. When the boys grew up Romulus killed his brother and founded a settlement on the hill – this is the mythical foundation of Rome in 753 BC. Myths aside, archaeological evidence places human settlements on the Palatine Hill, as early as the 10th century BC. The most famous of Rome’s seven hills, the Palatine would become Ancient Rome’s most desirable neighbourhood where the founding families made their homes; in time these people would become the elite and take positions in politics, thus the Palatine became the sought after residence of the most important people in Rome, from magistrates and senators to Emperors later on.
The Palatine Hill attracted the “who’s who” in Ancient Rome for several reasons: the myth attached to the Palatine; it was central to the founding of the city; it’s greenery provided a welcome relief to the hot and humid summer climate and a luxurious respite from the dirt and noise of the streets below. Another feature of living on the Palatine for the prestigious families of Rome was that they could be seen! In ancient Rome life was conducted in public. For the elite, senators and politicians, it was important to always be seen surrounded by important men and the Palatine allowed this, it was also close to the centre of business.
Who lived on the Palatine? Home to the Emperors
During the Republic it was home to great names like Tiberius Gracchus and his sons Tiberius and Gaius who fought for political reform as Tribunes. The statesman Cicero lived on the hill, Mark Anthony and later the family of the emperor Augustus. In the 1st century AD Pliny mocked the nobles dragging huge columns of coloured marble up the hill to decorate their homes (the equivalent of receiving a cinema sized screen from Amazon today) – people could see the expense and luxury.
Augustus apparently maintained his home on the Palatine hill, an unassuming home not resplendent like other palaces, but successive emperors would add to the luxury on hill. When the Flavian Emperor Domitian came into power, he built a huge palatial complex which from that point on would be the home of the Emperors.
It is this palatial complex that gives us the word PALACE today thanks to Domitian and the Palatine hill.
Successive emperors would add to the site, the huge archaeological area today bears different names after these extensions and rebuilds.