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Rome’s early History according to Livy. Myth, history, moral values and patriotism. Livy’s place in Rome’s historical chronology. 8 th Century BC: 753 BC – traditional date of Rome’s Founding 753 BCE – 509 BCE Regal Period; 6 th Century BC : 509 BCE – 287 BCE Roman Republic

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rome s early history according to livy

Rome’s early Historyaccording to Livy

Myth, history, moral values and patriotism

livy s place in rome s historical chronology
Livy’s place in Rome’s historical chronology
  • 8th Century BC: 753 BC – traditional date of Rome’s Founding
  • 753 BCE – 509 BCE Regal Period;
  • 6th Century BC:
  • 509 BCE – 287 BCE Roman Republic
  • 5th century:
  • Conflict of the Orders (Patricians-Pleibeians);
  • Law of the XII Tables; Plebeian tribunes; Pleibeian (popular) assembly
  • 4th Century BC
  • 396 BCE – 275 BCE Expansion in Italy
  • 3rd Century BC
  • 240 BCE - Beginnings of Latin Literature: Livius Andronicus: (mostly translations of Greek plays into Latin
  • Ca. 200 BCE – Fabius Pictor – first history written in Latin
  • 59 BCE – 17 CE - Titus Livius (Livy)
early roman history myth or history
Early Roman History:Myth or History?
  • No history was written at Rome before the 3rd century B.C.
  • Romans kept some official records of annual magistrates, important political and religious events such as wars, omens, catastrophes, etc. beginning after the Roman Republic had been founded (after 510 BC)
  • Many details of stories from the regal period and early Republic such as names, dates, what people felt and said, etc., are not historical facts but traditions and often later interpolations
titus livius livy and early roman history
Titus Livius (Livy) and Early Roman History
  • The historian Livy ( 59 B.C. – A.D. 17)
  • Work: ab urbe condita ( from the founding of Rome) an enormous history of Rome from its foundation to his own time, contains many traditional stories about early Roman history that are not historical facts!
  • Stories reflect traditional Roman ideals and values, not necessarily those of the early Romans, but rather of later periods and of Livy’s own period (anachronism).
livy s prologue
Livy’s prologue
  • “Events before the city was founded or planned, which have been handed down more as pleasing poetic fictions than as reliable records of historical events, I intend neither to affirm nor to refute. To antiquity we grant the indulgence of making the origins of cities more impressive by commingling the human with the divine, and if any people should be permitted to sanctify its inception and reckon the gods as its founders, surely the glory of the Roman people in war is such that, when it boasts Mars in particular as its parent and the parent of its founder, the nations of the world would as easily acquiesce in this claim as they do in our rule.”
the story of aeneas
The Story of Aeneas
  • Livy 1.1
  • To begin with, it is generally admitted that after the capture of Troy, whilst the rest of the Trojans were massacred, against two of them-Aeneas and Antenor -the Achivi refused to exercise the rights of war, partly owing to old ties of hospitality, and partly because these men had always been in favour of making peace and surrendering Helen.
livy the aeneas tradition
Livy: the Aeneas tradition
  • Livy 1.3 (the founding of the Roman Race and the Iulian Clan
  • His (Aeneas) son, Ascanius, was not old enough to assume the government; but his throne remained secure throughout his minority. During that interval-such was Lavinia's force of character- though a woman was regent, the Latin State, and the kingdom of his father and grandfather, were preserved unimpaired for her son. I will not discuss the question-for who could speak decisively about a matter of such extreme antiquity?-whether the man whom the Julian house claim, under the name of Iulus, as the founder of their name, was this Ascanius or an older one than he, born of Creusa, whilst Ilium was still intact, and after its fall a sharer in his father's fortunes. This Ascanius, where ever born, or of whatever mother-it is generally agreed in any case that he was the son of Aeneas-left to his mother (or his stepmother) the city of Lavinium, which was for those days a prosperous and wealthy city, with a superabundant population, and built a new city at the foot of the Alban hills,
livy 1 3 continued
Livy 1.3 continued
  • was called "Alba Longa." An interval of thirty years elapsed between the foundation of Lavinium and the colonisation of Alba Longa. Such had been the growth of the Latin power, mainly through the defeat of the Etruscans, that neither at the death of Aeneas, nor during the regency of Lavinia, nor during the immature years of the reign of Ascanius, did either Mezentius and the Etruscans or any other of their neighbours venture to attack them. When terms of peace were being arranged, the river Albula, now called the Tiber, had been fixed as the boundary between the Etruscans and the Latins.
livy 1 3
Livy 1.3
  • Ascanius was succeeded by his son Silvius, who by some chance had been born in the forest. He became the father of Aeneas Silvius, who in his turn had a son, Latinus Silvius. He planted a number of colonies: the colonists were called Prisci Latini. The cognomen of Silvius was common to all the remaining kings of Alba, each of whom succeeded his father. Their names are Alba, Atys, Capys, Capetus, Tiberinus, who was drowned in crossing the Albula, and his name transferred to the river, which became henceforth the famous Tiber. Then came his son Agrippa, after him his son Romulus Silvius. He was struck by lightning and left the crown to his son Aventinus, whose shrine was on the hill which bears his name and is now a part of the city of Rome.
livy 1 4 the parentage of romulus and remus
Livy 1.4 the parentage of Romulus and Remus
  • But the Fates had, I believe, already decreed the origin of this great city and the foundation of the mightiest empire under heaven. The Vestal was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins. She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it. But neither gods nor men sheltered her or her babes from the king's cruelty; the priestess was thrown into prison, the boys were ordered to be thrown into the river.
the founding of rome the romulus and remus tradition
The Founding of RomeThe Romulus and Remus ‘tradition’
  • 1.4 The tradition goes on to say that after the floating cradle in which the boys had been exposed had been left by the retreating water on dry land, a thirsty she-wolf from the surrounding hills, attracted by the crying of the children, came to them, gave them her teats to suck and was so gentle towards them that the king's flock-master found her licking the boys with her tongue. According to the story, his name was Faustulus. He took the children to his hut and gave them to his wife Larentia to bring up. Some writers think that Larentia, from her unchaste life, had got the nickname of "She-wolf" amongst the shepherds, and that this was the origin of the marvellous story.
  • lupa = she-wolf or prostitute
myth or history
Myth or History?
  • Traditional stories serve to explain Rome’s origins: origins of the Latin race, of cities, names of places, rivers, religious practices, cults, origins of gentes (families)
  • by Livy’s days the corpus of stories formed an integral part of Rome’s history and identity of both the Roman state and the Roman people
  • instrumental in the transmission of values to the next generation; important element in the education of young Romans
other important legends women as the main characters
Other Important Legends:Women as the main characters
  • The Sabine Women
  • The Rape of Lucretia
  • The mother of Coriolanus
the rape of the sabine women livy 1 9 1 13
The Rape of the Sabine Women (Livy 1.9-1.13)
  • Rape - from Latin rapio = capture, seize
  • 1. Young community had not enough women;
  • Attempts by Romans to marry women from neighbouring Sabines rejected; despised by them.
  • 2. Romans invited the Sabines to a festival in honour of Neptune, the Consualia, Sabines came with their families. During festival the young unmarried girls were seized by Romans and made their wives.
the festival
The festival
  • “As the games broke up in confusion and fear, the grieving parents of the maidens ran off, accusing the Romans of violating their sacred obligations as hosts and invoking the god to whose festival and games they had been deceitfully invited contrary to religion and good faith. The abducted maidens had not better hope for their plight than had their parents, nor was their indignation less.” (Livy 1.9)
the benefits will make up for the wrong
The benefits will make up for the wrong
  • “Romulus repeatedly went about in person to visit them, arguing that what had occurred was due to the arrogance of their parents who had refused intermarriage with their neighbours. Despite this, he promised that they would enjoy the rights of a proper marriage becoming partners in all the fortunes the couple might share, in Rome’s citizenship, and in the begetting of children, the object dearest to every person’s heart. …often he said, thankfulness replaces a sense of wrong over the course of time, ….”(Livy 1.9)
war with the sabines
War with the Sabines
  • “..when the two sides renewed the general fight in the valley …It was at this moment that the Sabine women, whose abduction had caused the war, boldly interposed themselves amid the flying spears. Their misfortunes overcame womanish fear: with hair streaming and garments rent, they made a mad rush from the sidelines, parting the battling armies and checking their angry strife. Appealing to fathers on one side and husbands on the other, they declared that kin by marriage should not defile themselves with impious carnage, nor leave the stain of blood upon descendants of their blood, grandfathers upon grandson, fathers upon children. ..Their appeal moved both leaders and rank and file ….the commanders then came forward to strike a treaty by which they not only made peace but united the two peoples in a single community.” (Livy 1.13)
the function of the sabine women legend
The function of the ‘Sabine Women’ legend
  • to pass on and reinforce important socialideals and values associated with marriage
  • 1. the importance of marriage and children to ensure the future of the community;
  • 2. the importance of marriage as forging alliances; bonds between kin considered the most important ones.
  • 3. the important role of women for the perpetuation of the state and to cement political alliances
  • 4. story demonstrates what is the expected conduct of women: they must be loyal both to their paternal family and to their conjugal family: women as bridging the divide.
Marriage by capture,
  • a ritual practiced by many archaic cultures, including the Spartans – probably reenacting a similar practice of capturing wives when they first arrived and settled in the region
  • A trace of custom can be found in Roman tradition of parting the bride’s hair with a spear(Wiseman
justification for violence
Justification for violence
  • Story example of how relationship originally established by violence could turn into a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Reflection of values (justification for the use of violence) of later period of Roman conquest, when Romans forced other people under their rule.
  • Also theme in Augustan period: civil wars ultimately brought peace to Roman society and the pax Romanum to the world.
  • Important : the centrality of the state
  • The value of Roman citizenship -
  • anachronistic – a later value projected back to Rome’s earliest day.
the poet ovid s version of the rape of the sabine women
The poet Ovid’s version of the ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’
  • Ovid 43 B.C. – A.D. 17
  • “ The king gave the sign for which/they’d so eagerly watched. Project Rape was on. Up they sprang then/with a lusty roar. Laid hot hands on the girls./As timorous dove flee eagles, as a lambkin/runs wild when it sees the hated wolf,/so this wild charge of men left the girls all panic-stricken/not one had the same color in her cheek as before-/the same nightmare for all, though terror’s features varied:/some tore their hair, some just froze/where they sat; some, dismayed, kept silence, others vainly/yelled for Mamma: some wailed; some gaped;/some fled, some just stood there. So they were carried off as/marriage bed plunder: even so, many contrived to make panic look fetching. Any girl who resisted her pursuer/too vigorously would find herself picked up/and borne off regardless. “Why spoil these pretty eyes with weeping?”/She’d hear, “I’ll be all to you/that your Dad ever was to your Mum” (Ovid, Metamorphoses)