UVM Professor Examines Rome's "She-Wolf"

05/29/10 8:35AM By Peter Biello
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(AP Photo/P. Lepri)
The Capitoline She-Wolf

If your summer vacation happens to take you to over the Atlantic to Rome, you will undoubtedly run into at least one rendering of the symbol of the founding of the Eternal City—the she-wolf.

According to legend, the she-wolf suckled two twins, Romulus and Remus, along the banks of the Tiber. The twins were illegitimate sons of Mars, the god of war, and as the story goes, Romulus killed his brother and became the founder of the city.

The she-wolf also gets much of the credit for creating the city because she saved the little twins. So, her image is everywhere: in paintings, on the sides of monuments, even airbrushed on delivery vans.

The wolf is so pervasive in Roman culture that it inspired Cristina Mazzoni to write an entire book on the subject. Mazzoni is a professor of romance languages at the University of Vermont and a native of Italy, and she joins me in our Colchester studios to talk about her new book, 'She-Wolf: The Story of A Roman Icon.'

Mazzoni speaks with VPR's Peter Biello.

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