THE KING DISAPPEARS
 AS the years passed, the city of Rome became ever larger
and more powerful. The king, too, grew haughty, and as
his greatness increased, careless of the welfare of his
people. His subjects, who had formerly loved Romulus,
now began to hate him, so insolent seemed to them his
Dressed in a scarlet robe, the king spent his days
lying on a couch, while young lads, called Celeres,
waited upon him. This name was bestowed upon them
because of the swiftness with which they sped to do the
Nor was this all, but when Romulus at times roused
himself to walk through the streets of the city, the
Celeres went before him, bearing staves. These they
used, to thrust aside any of the common people who
dared to disturb the king by their presence.
The staves angered the people, but even more did they
resent the leather thongs which the Celeres wore, for
these were used to bind and take prisoner whoever
displeased the king.
After he had reigned forty years a strange thing
Romulus ordered the people to assemble on the Field of
Mars, which reached from the city to the river Tiber,
for here a festival was to be held. But when the king
and his subjects met, a terrible storm arose. Dark and
yet darker grew the sky, while fierce gusts of wind,
blowing now in one direction, now in another, confused
the terrified crowd. Flashes of lightning
across the faces of the throng, then darkness, more
dense, fell across the field, hiding each from the
other. Thunder rolled until the earth seemed to shake
at the sound.
 In terror and distraught with fear, the crowd fled to
their homes, lashed by a ceaseless torrent of rain.
And the king? When the storm was over the king was
nowhere to be found. He had disappeared, and was seen
no more on earth in human form.
"His enemies have slain him," said some among the
people. But others thought that the god Mars had
carried the king to heaven in a chariot.
Proculus, a friend of Romulus, told the people a story,
which made them believe that their king had himself
become a god.
One day, as Proculus was walking from Alba to Rome,
Romulus stood before him, clad in shining armour.
His friend was afraid when he saw the king, so tall and
comely had he become, and he cried: "Why, O King, have
you abandoned us, and left the whole city to
bereavement and endless sorrow?"
Proculus did not seem to know that Romulus had lost the
love of his people many years before.
The figure in shining armour answered his friend in
these wise words:
"It pleased the gods, O Proculus, that we, who came
from them, should remain so long a time amongst men as
we did, and having built a city to be the greatest in
the world for empire and glory, should again return to
"Farewell, and tell the Romans that by the exercise of
temperance and fortitude they shall attain the height
of human power. We will be to you from henceforth the
The Romans listened eagerly to Proculus, and when his
story ended, they determined to build a temple on the
Quirinal hill in honour of their new god.
And each year, on the 17th February, the day that
Romulus had been taken from their sight, the Romans
held a festival in honour of Quirinus, calling it the