The wolf Legend of Rome

Following up on my blog on Harambe, the hapless gorilla who lost his life because he was in captivity, I hark back to Rome, where I lived five years after my exile from Shanghai by the communists.

Among the myriad sights to see in the history-rich sprawl of Rome was the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy. The gigantic edifice of white marble (dubbed the Wedding Cake by Allied troops in WWII) loomed over the fevered traffic whizzing around Piazza Venezia where a traffic cop, mounted on a pedestal in the center, whirled his arms this way and that and seemed to me always in danger of falling off and disappearing under the vehicles he sought to control.

According to the Legend, twin brothers Romulus and Remus were sired by Mars, abandoned by their mother, and were rescued by a wolf who suckled and raised them. In a familiar theme, Romulus slew his brother Remus, and went on to found Rome.

To pay homage to this legend, the Prefecture of Rome elected to imprison a wolf in a dank cage under the marble pile of Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II. I used to stand in front of the bars and peer into the depths of the gloom, not certain if I could actually see a living form inside. I can’t remember if I ever did, and hope there never was a wolf trapped in the tomb.

Gorilla in a tight concrete enclosure, wolf inside a marble prison — the list of glorious human exploits get long.


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