Ab Urb Tube Condita Summary

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Livy, the author of the historic series, “Ab Urbe Condita”, was a historian, but also a moralist. Livy, wrote the series in order to explain to Romans of his time the history of the city but also the, “moral principles (Livy’s preface, 4)” that early Romans demonstrated in the founding and then expansion of the city. Livy described early Roman women such as Rhea Silvia, the Sabine Women and Lucretia in order to present morals to later readers on proper womenly virtues. These women each exemplified the fundamental Roman ideals of duty, “pietas” and modesty “pudicitia” and thus were held up to later Roman women as exemplars of Roman virtue. Encompassed in these overarching Roman ideals, the founding women proved their heroism by providing…show more content…
Men, in Rome’s founding legends, including Aeneas, Romulus and the Tarquins often acted irrationally and were quick to fits of passionate anger and lust. From Aeneas’ slaughtering of Turnus to Romulus murdering his brother to the Tarquins history of abuse, Roman writers, Livy included, consistently portrayed Roman men as strong willed to a fault. In contrast, Roman women such as the Sabine women and Lucretia acted out of maternal moral instincts and thus played an instrumental role in the founding of the city. For example, the Sabine women, in the heat of battle, were able to convince the men on both sides to stop the fighting, “Appealing to fathers on one side and husbands on the other, they declared that kin by marriage should not defile themselves…(Livy, p.18).” From this “appeal” the Sabine women quelled the passion of the fighting men and thus saved Rome from a possible early catastrophe. These founding women also incorporated the Roman ideal of rhetoric in persuading men to either take up arms or, in the case of the Sabine women, put them down. Lucretia, before her self inflicted death effectively used womanly persuasion to rally the men around her to action, “What can be right when a woman’s virtue has been taken from her? (Livy, p.68).” Lucretia, through her rhetorical…show more content…
According to Roman ideals for women, upholding the family name as well as consistent devotion to the betterment of the state were essential. For example, Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, claimed that she was taken by the God Mars in order to protect what was left of her family’s name, “For when the vestal, having been ravished… she named Mars as the father (Livy, p.8).” Rhea Silvia, in claiming that she was raped by the God Mars put her family honor because a God was more excusable than a mortal man. This quick thinking displayed Rhea’s cunning as well as her devotion to upholding her family name even at the risk of her own safety and security. Even though women were on the whole were controlled by men in society, they were still expected to make their own self interests and health secondary to duty to the state and family. This was in stark contrast to Greek women, like Helen of Troy, who were often depicted as passively weeping while their men left for war. The first mothers of Rome,the Sabine women, unlike Greek women, proved their Roman resolve by rushing the battle field without a care for their safety, “Their misfortunes overcame womanish fear… (Livy. 18).” Livy included “womanish fear” to highlight how even though woman traditionally were viewed as meek, these future Roman women

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