From Roman legend. Rhea Silvia was, according to Roman tradition, the mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome. Her name probably represents a reworking, by association with Latin silva ‘wood’, of some pre-Roman form. It was borne by a 6th-century saint, mother of Gregory the Great, and has always been relatively popular in Italy. Shakespeare used it as a typically Italian name in Two Gentlemen of Verona. It is also well established as an independent name in English-speaking countries.