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The First King: Birth of an Empire – Review

Every empire begins with a tribe. Every tribe begins with a cult.

The First King is ostensibly about Romulus, Remus, and the creation of Rome. Yet it’s really about leadership and identity.

There are no marble columns or statues in this story, no patrician class. Romulus and Remus are two shepherds eking out a living, covered in dirt and grime. After they are almost killed by a flood, they are captured and enslaved by masked warriors from Alba Longa.

They and other slaves are forced to fight to the death as part of a sacrifice. Romulus tells his brother to beat him mercilessly. When the priestess approaches to ritualistically smear blood on the “dead” Romulus, he awakens and grabs her. The other slaves break their bonds and kill their enslavers. Romulus is wounded, but he tells us brother that “the god,” represented by the fire kept by the priestess, is coming with them now.

Romulus defies two conventions. He touches the sacred priestess and he claims ownership over the fire. However, he does not deny the god’s existence or the power of Tradition. Instead, he claims it for his own new tribe.

The small band of slaves and rogues escape into a forest. They want to kill the wounded Romulus, but Remus insists that Romulus be saved. However, at one point, Remus goes to find food, and one of the men takes this chance to finish off Romulus, this burden to the group.

However, the priestess builds a “sacred fire” around the wounded man and invokes horrible curses on anyone who crosses it. Terrified, the man backs down. Remus then returns with a deer he’s slaughtered, and it’s clear he has become the leader. In fact, he proclaims himself “king.” The first king is not Romulus, but Remus.

The men then kill a band of warriors from a nearby village. Remus enters the village with his warriors, with the head of the former leader on a pike. He claims the village as the seat of his new kingdom. The priestess wonders whether he is a kind of god.

However, after a sacrifice, the priestess inspects the entrails and says that one brother must kill the other in order to create a powerful state. Everyone assumes this means Remus must kill the wounded Romulus.

Remus responds in Nietzschean fashion. He defies the prophecy and ties the priestess in the woods to be devoured by beasts. He burns the village down and lets the sacred fire go out. He kills a villager in cold blood. When defied, he forces men to bow before him. He asserts that “the god” isn’t real, and that men will make their own fates.

Romulus, now somewhat healed, confronts his brother. Remus, ashamed, goes to find the priestess, but she has already been mauled by animals and is on the verge of death. She tells him to “run away.”

Meanwhile, Romulus consoles the mourning villagers and helps them bury the dead men with the appropriate rites. He also rekindles the sacred fire and picks a young girl to feed it for the rest of her life. She is the first Vestal Virgin.

Remus regathers the remainder of his small group of warriors and try to flee the area by crossing a river. Unfortunately, the mounted soldiers from Alba Longa have finally come for revenge. They are outmatched, but Romulus and the villagers arrive to rescue them.

Yet even after this, Remus insists on his regal title. He wants everyone to bow to him. There’s an old legend that Romulus killed Remus after the latter leapt over Rome’s initial walls. Romulus then said something like, “Woe to whoever overleaps my bounds.”

In this film, Romulus makes a boundary between Remus and the sacred fire. Remus crosses it and is slain in the ensuring fight. Romulus is horrified at what he’s done, but recognizes it was necessary. Remus repents just before death, recognizing that Romulus is his king.

The small group burns the body and Romulus says his brother’s strength will guide this new settlement, Rome.

It will be a haven for slaves and outcasts, who will in turn become masters of the Earth.

If Operation Werewolf is about anything, it’s about worshiping strength. However, strength is not enough. Remus is the strongest, yet his power and charisma can’t build a society. Romulus is powerful but also what Nietzsche calls a “creator of peoples.”

He gives them a faith and a creed to bind them together. He reconnects to an ancient tradition – the sacral fire that represents the presence of “the god.” Yet he also violates the taboos. He appeals to something eternal but he adapts it to his own needs, his own time, and his own conditions.

Remus is a great warrior – the priestess even admits he is something of a god. Yet because he does not link that strength to anything greater than himself, he is ultimately defeated. His claims to “kingship” over a petty band of scruffy villagers seem pathetic and self-aggrandizing.

Yet to his credit, Remus recognizes this. Before he dies, he salutes Romulus as “my king.” In turn, Romulus holds up Remus’s strength and pride as noble qualities for his new Romans to follow.

And who are his new Romans? Outcasts, former slaves, a few warriors, some old men. But Romulus teaches them that they are strong if they are united. Outcasts can become a tribe, a tribe with a tradition becomes a people, a people can create a rising culture.

What is the ultimate goal of Werewolf Elite? Of course, there’s the objective of Total Life Reform. However, like Romulus, we want to link people to an eternal tradition that is expressing itself in new forms.

Even if you can deadlift 600 pounds, defeat anyone in a fight, overcome any physical challenge, it can only go so far if you aren’t part of something larger. Werewolf Elite is about forging something greater than ourselves.

Individual physical strength is the foundation. It’s necessary to everything we want to accomplish. But by itself, it is insufficient.

There is one final opportunity to enroll in Werewolf Elite. Then, we are cutting it off. If you feel the call to not only rebuild yourself, but build something greater than yourself, this is for you.

Remember, even Rome started with just two men.