As some of you know, I started writing the successor to In the Mission, my first published novel. This time around, part of the action will take place in my home town, Rome (Eternal, not New York). Research has been going strong, with the week I spent in Italy dedicated for the most part to research the setting and the details of the plot.
One of the things that stands out about Rome and its institution is the obsession with twins. Once the last (Etruscan) king was abolished, Rome created itself as a Republic with two consuls at its head. The basic idea was that since there were two, one could keep the other in check. This is centuries later reprised in the notion of two co-equal emperors (augusti) which segued into the separation of the one Roman Empire into two.
This obsession with twins stems with the very birth of the city, founded as it was by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. In a foreshadowing of how this twin thing was going to work out, one twin (Romulus) killed the other (Remus) at the founding. When Romulus drew the city limits of Rome, Remus hopped over them. Romulus, incensed, killed his brother. Apparently, 18-year-olds of the time were no more likely to restrain themselves than today.