11 June 2008


Although she is not quite a dog, Lupa is a canus. One of my favorite parts of Roma is Lupa, the she-wolf. Supposedly the mother of Romulus and Remus (Artemis in Greek mythology), the she-wolf is the Madonna for Roma. Her image is to be found throughout the city, and even throughout the country.

For example, Lupa is also a mascot for one of the neighborhoods in Siena (I picked up a nice scarf with her on it).

Roma uses her image as an official emblem, and she turns up on trashcans (below, along the Via Appia Antica) and signs.

As you can see here, she dominates a room in the Capitoline museum, complete with her story.

Additionally, I recently saw a graffiti mural depicting her, in the same place where we saw the madrigals.

It keeps going. During my trip to Pompeii this past weekend, I learned that “lupa” was also a euphemism for prostitutes in ancient Pompeii. (I also learned that the “cave canem” mosaic I saw on the Via Appia Antica is a copy of the original mosaic in Pompeii, pictured below!)

Lupa is omnipresent, still nursing Roma with her image.

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.