Livy 1.3-1.6

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For the next few weeks, you will be working through some select passages from Livy. Titus Livius was born in 59 BC at Patavium (Padua) and later moved to Rome. There he wrote an extensive work on early Roman history and the Roman Republic. He lived in an eventful age, but little is known about his life. However, it is clear that he was occupied exclusively in literary work. At the age of 30, Livy began to write the “History of Rome”, consisting of 142 books. Only 35 of them survive for our study today. He continued working on this massive undertaking until his death in AD 17.

This week your readings focus on Romulus’ establishment of Rome and the Rape of Lucretia from early Roman history. It will never fully be proven to what extent these stories are steeped in history, myth, or a blend of both. As you analyze and study these texts, considering the following:

  • Who was Romulus? How was his childhood unconventional?
  • Under what circumstances was Rome founded?
  • From where did Romulus and Remus originate?
  • How would you describe or characterize the relationship between Romulus and Remus?
  • Ultimately, what are the Romans saying about themselves?
  • How do Romulus and his actions demonstrate the Roman psyche and Roman values?
  • What aspects of the story seem fictional and fact based?
  • How does Livy portray Lucius Tarquinius Superbus?
  • How are we left feeling about the last king of Rome?
  • Under what circumstances is the Roman Republic launched?
  • Ultimately, what does Livy indicate Brutus was aiming for politically by expelling Tarquin from Rome?
  • How would you characterize the role Lucretia, and how does she embody the values of a Roman woman?
  • Do you find her actions outrageous, harsh, practical, traditional, etc.?
  • What aspects of the story seem fictional and fact based?

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