Mars and Rhea Silvia

This handle of a second-century CE Roman silver bowl depicts Mars and two cupids descending from Olympus to impregnate the sleeping Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, which had been founded by Ascanius, son of Aeneas. When Numitor's brother had usurped the throne, he forced her to become a Vestal Virgin so that she would have no children. The gods thwarted this plan by sending Mars to father the twin boys Romulus and Remus. Rhea Silvia's uncle cast her in prison and put the babies in a reed basket on the Tiber to drown. There were rescued, however, by a she-wolf, and raised by a shepherd. When grown men, they discovered their true parentage, restored Numitor to his rightful throne, and founded their own city. In a dispute over who was to be the leader of the new city, Romulus killed Remus, and the city was therefore named after him, Rome.