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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 Roman Foundation Myths and Self-Image

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University of Toronto St. George
Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 2 (September 13) Roman Foundation Myths and Self-Image 1. Livy 2. Three foundation myths a. Aeneas b. Romulus (and Remus) c. “Rape” of the Sabine women 3. Discussion – how might these foundation myths reflect later Roman self- image? That is, what might they tell us about how later Romans saw themselves? - short list of dates to be known for midterm – posted on BB – chronological pegs – example of Punic Wars and Scipio Africanurd - correction of dates – two occasions that 3 M B.C. – actually beginning of Greek Bronze Age – Roman Bronze Age is more in 2 nd M B.C. - closer to “reliable” historical information - opening of Livy’s History of Rome Livy - very little known about his life - Italian town of Pavium – made his name in the city of Rome - 60 B.C. – 12 A.D. – period of high turmoil in society - preface to his work explains - recounts history from the founding of the city – mythical beginnings of Rome until his own lifetime – stopped around the year 9 B.C. - less than a quarter of his works survive - published works in installments over a period of 20 years – life’s work - methods not up to the standards of modern historians – not even to the level of ancient historians - often repeats what other historians say and copies stories – conflicting in many cases - not very critical – no attempt to reconstruct most plausible narrative - vivid, entertaining, and well-crafted works – public reading in city of Rome at the end of each installment - the emperor Augustus was a fan of Livy’s work – in the audience - not merely recording past as an academic exercise – writing for a contemporary audience – for emperor essentially – period of tentative peace after a long period of civil war - writing with a political/contemporary purpose – objective of history is to explain for “old” Rome was better – model for contemporary Romans to aspire to ancient standards - reading – preface section 3 – briefly at bottom of the first page – “memory of the past achievements of the greatest people on earth” - section 9 – page 3 of translation – “the kind of lies men live…. Our dominion was born and grew… as discipline gradually collapsed… they declined… reached the present times … our own vices nor their remedies” - to Livy the point of history was as a model of virtue – recent past as bad – call to go back to the roots – “good old days”, so to speak - history/myth – kind of reflection of how the romans saw themselves – what they were and what they could be - myths of Livy as basic narratives – three main narratives about the origins of Rome and the Roman society Story of Aeneas - Aneas as the character in The Iliad – only Trojan survivor - The Iliad – prolonged mythical war between Greeks and Trojans - Aegean sea – Troy on Eastern coast of sea - Trojan prince – of the royal family of troy and a demigod – human father, Aphrodite mother – not a main character in Homer’s work - depicted as notable for piety – piety as reverence toward the gods and duty and family value - carries father on his back after the sack of troy – takes his wife, child, and the gods - wife separated – son goes with him in some narratives - “sequels” – aeneas travels around Greece, Italy, etc. establishing society - Livy provides the “popular” version – 3 c. B.C. likely - Aeneas arrives and creates a treaty with Latinus, king – establish Lavinium to function joint headquarters - marries daughter of Latinus - attacked by groups to the north – including Etruscans – win battle but Latinus dies - in order to create camaraderie – calls them all Latins after king Latinus – single identity - leads them into another battle to Etrusca
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