Tradition has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus, who became the first Roman king and gave his name to the city. Seven early kings ruled Rome from 753 BC until 509 BC, when Tarquin the Proud was overthrown by the Roman people and a republic was established. In this song, Dylan erases time boundaries by mixing historical stories of the early Roman kings destroying cities with contemporary tales of destruction.
Dylan has said in interviews that for Tempest he wanted to record more religious songs. The title of this 12-bar blues romp could be a word play on the Roman Empire with the Biblical books of Kings and Romans.
The song featured in commercials for the Cinemax/Sky counter-terrorism TV series Strike Back: Vengeance which debuted on August 17, 2012.
This features David Hidalgo of Los Lobos on accordion. Dylan got to know Hildago from when he and Los Lobos played some shows in Mexico a few years prior to the recording of his previous album, Together Through Life.