Separating fact from fiction is a full time job for the Twinologys Team. And while we enjoy debunking myths and uncovering new facts, the number of myths that still persist today continually stumps us.
The exact date of when twin mythology started is unclear, but it seems Romulus and Remus of Rome’s foundation myth may have been the first.
Rome’s foundation myth is about twin brothers who were exiled from their home only to be saved by a she-wolf. After being saved, Romulus and Remus decide to form a new city. They argued about the exact location and battled until Remus was killed.
Quickly replacing his brother, Romulus named the new city ‘Rome’ after himself. The myth was fully developed in the Late Republican and early Imperial era; 509 BC to 300 BC.
Like with most ancient twin myths, including Romulus and Remus, they were based on the concept of good vs. evil and how twins are formed. Greek Mythology believed that twins were produced after a mother copulated with a god like; such as Heracles and his twin brother Iphicles and Romulus and Remus–half god, half human.
In several Native American cultures they believed that if women ate twin like fruits, such as double almonds or apples, it would increase the chances of having twins. While in other cultures, twins were attributed to the virility of the father.
Essentially, twin myths are rooted in the belief that they are two halves of a whole. Their opposing personalities balance each other’s, which suggests twins are polar opposites.
One of the most common dichotomies is the belief that there is a “good” and “bad” twin. But if you asked the mothers of twins they would most likely report that each twin have had their good and bad moments. We think that people, in general, have this double dichotomy within them. Even so, myths continue to present often the duality of twins.
Again we turn to the Greeks to explain the opposition of twins with Apollo and Artemis. Apollo became the sun god and Artemis became the moon goddess. In Brazil the Xingu mythology has Kuat as the sun and Iae as the moon who were twin brothers. Egypt has their own twin mythology about Geb who became the earth god and Nut who became the sky goddess. In several Native American Frist Nation tribes, Gluskap, the good twin, has to defeat Malsum, his evil twin brother
Some cultures have even given twins special powers. An aboriginal tale explains that twin lizards created the planets, animals and saved women from evil spirits. And in West Africa, the Dogon of Mali believe that twins represent completeness and perfection. This is symbolically depicted by the divine Nummo–a fraternal twin, male and female. The divinity required humans to sacrifice being both male and female and pick one gender to live as.
Twins have produced many myths that still create mystery today. We think that these myths are amusing and should be taken as exaggerated explanations of the truth. Whether you believe twins come from fruit or they have super powers, we wanted to give twins a space to join in on the conversation.
If you have twin myths or folklores, send them our way.