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Rome: The Foundation Myth


Nilgun Bayraktar Odysseus at King Alcinous Court Odysseus--Aeneas Odysseus narrative focuses on his own cleverness and skill in avoiding death; Aeneas ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Rome: The Foundation Myth

Rome The Foundation Myth
Nilgun Bayraktar
The Aeneid (29-19 BCE)
  • by
  • Publius Vergilius
  • Maro
  • (Virgil or Vergil)

the Republican Rome
  • Rome In 753 b.c. Romulus founded the city.
  • In 509 b.c., the Roman Republic was established.
  • 4th and 3rd centuries b.c. Roman Republic
    occupied all of Italy as well as most of Spain
    and parts of Africa.

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clips senate and triumph
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From Republic to Empire
  • Julius Caesar
  • Brutus
  • Octavian (Augustus)
  • Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) Cleopatra

Mark Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt, HBO Series,
Augustan Era (27BC-14 AD)
  • Centralized political and military control in his
  • in 27 BC Octavian (Caesar's heir) awarded the
    title Augustus (the revered one)

  • Princeps (first citizen)
  • Imperator (commander, person who holds

The Achievements of the Divine Augustus (his
  • Augustus "the senate and people of Rome agreed
    that I should be appointed supervisor of laws and
    morals without a colleague and with supreme
    power, but I would not accept any office
    inconsistent with the custom of our ancestors"

Augustan reforms
  • Restored the appearances of the old Republican
    form of government.
  • Roman morals and customs to the mores
    maiorum,the ways or customs of the ancestors.
  • A series of laws regulating marriage,
    making adultery a criminal offense, and
    encouraging couples to have children.

The Aeneid by Virgil
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70-19 BC) .
  • The Eclogues--a collection of ten pastoral poems
    (37 b.c.)
  • The Georgics--deal with agriculture and exalt the
    old-fashioned virtues dear to Augustus (27 b.c.)
  • Virgil wrote his final poem, the Aeneid, largely
    in the 20s, during the beginning of Augustus

The Aeneid
  • The Trojan hero, Aeneas, fought the Greeks at
    troy and saw his city destroyed.
  • He led his people across the Mediterranean to
    establish a new homeland in Italy.
  • Aeneas actions shown to be necessary for and to
    lead ultimately to the reign of Augustus.

Aeneas Voyage from Troy
Layers of history and myth in the Aeneid
  • Aeneid forms a link between the Greek mythic
    tradition and Roman history
  • The fall of Troy (1184 BCE)
  • Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage (264-146
  • Virgils present time (1st century BC Rome and
    Augustan era)

Aeneids mythological background
  • the Greek Trojan War story
  • the Roman story of Romes foundation by Romulus

  • Aeneas reached Italy, married the Italian
    princess Lavinia, and founded a city called
    Lavinium. His son founded the city Alba Longa.

Romulus legend--the founder of Rome
  • Romulus and his brother Remus
  • the Trojan Aeneas was the ancestor of Romulus

The female wolf feeding Romulus and Remus
The founders of Rome
  • The founding of Lavinium by Aeneas.
  • The actual founding of Rome by Romulus.
  • The re-founding of Roman Republic by Augustus.

Ara Pacis Augustae the "Altar of Augustan Peace"
A scene on Ara Pacis taken from Virgil's Aeneid
Aeneas Founding Rome
The Aeneid Foundation Myth
Homeric Epics the Trojan War
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey oral tradition dating
    back to the 8th century BC (750-700)

Relative dates of Greece and Rome
  • Athens reached its cultural and political zenith
    in the 5th century B.C., when Rome was still a
    small kingdom in central Italy.
  • In the 4th century B.C., Greece was conquered by
    Phillip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the
    Great. This marks the Hellenistic Age, which
    persisted until 31 B.C.

Statue of Alexander the Great ca. 3rd-century
B.C. at Istanbul Archeological Museum.
Roman appropriation of Greek culture and art
  • Roman sculpture used Greek techniques and often
    copied Greek originals.
  • Roman literature followed Greek models. (i.e.
    Livius Andronicus tragedy and comedy)

Relief with a dancing maenad, ca. 27 b.c.14
a.d. Augustan Roman copy of a Greek relief
attributed to Kallimachos, ca. 425400 b.c.
  • The most important early epic was the Annales of
    Ennius (239169 B.C.). Ennius presented himself
    as the reincarnation of Homer.
  • The Romans assimilated their major deities to
    Greek equivalents and thus adopted Greek stories
    about those deities.

Statue of a wounded Amazon, 1st2nd century a.d.
Roman copy of a Greek bronze statue, ca. 450425
Appropriation of Homeric epics
  • The Iliad tells the story of the Greek warrior
    Achilles strife with Agamemnon and consequent
  • The Odyssey treats the wars aftermath by
    relating Odysseus struggle to return home.

Homeric epics as models
  • Aeneid 1-6, like Odyssey, describes a heros
    return to (a new) home after the Trojan war.
  • Aeneid 7-12, like Iliad, tells the story of a

the Proem of the Aeneid
I sing of warfare and a man at war. From the
sea-coast of Troy in early days He came to Italy
by destiny, To our Lavinian western shore, A
fugitive, this captain, buffeted cruelly as land
as on sea By blows from powers of the
air--Behind them Baleful Juno HERA in her
sleepless rage And cruel losses were his lot in
war Till he could found a city and bring
home His gods to Latium, land of the Latin
race, The Alban lords, and the high walls of
Rome. Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how
galled In her divine pride and how sore at heart
From her old wound, the queen of gods compelled
him A man apart, devoted to his mission To
undergo so many perilous days And enter on so
many trials. Can anger Black as this prey on the
minds of heaven?
  • Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of many
    twists and turns, driven time and again off
    course, once he had plundered the hallowed
    heights of Troy. (Odyssey)
  • Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage, Black and
    murderous, that cost the Greeks incalculable
    pain, pitched countless soul of heroes into
    Hades' dark, and left their bodies to rot as
    feasts for dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was
    done. (Iliad)

proem of the Aeneid
  • the necessity and inevitability of Romes
  • the anger of Juno,
  • Aeneas as a man marked out by fate, and
    especially the concept of pietas or duty.

Aeneids narrative structure
  • Book 1 Aeneass arrival at Carthage (Queen Dido)
  • Book 2 Aeneas first person account of the fall
    of Troy.
  • Book 3 Aeneass wanderings from Troy in search
    of Italy. Narration ends with his arrival at
    Didos city.
  • Book 4 The tragic love affair between Dido and
  • Book 5 Aeneas leaves Dido and after a stop in
  • Book 6 Aeneas heroic journey through the
  • Book 7-12 Aeneas arrival at Latium in Italy and
    his war with the Italians and their allies.

Aeneas at Didos court
Odysseus at King Alcinous Court
  • Odysseus narrative focuses on his own cleverness
    and skill in avoiding death Aeneas focuses on
    the sorrows he has endured.
  • Odysseus story begins after the fall of Troy,
    while Aeneid Book II is almost entirely given
    over to Aeneas description of the sack of Troy.
  • Odysseus looks forward to a homecoming Aeneas,
    an exile, seeks a new home.
  • Aeneas destiny as the ancestor of the Roman

Transformation of Aeneas from a Homeric hero into
the Roman hero
  • Homeric hero when ones city is falling the
    noble action is to die under arms
  • Roman Hero Leading virtue is his piety

Marble relief, Roman c. AD 140-150
Aeneas--the Roman Hero
  • Come than dear father, mount upon my neck. I
    will bear you on my shoulders. Thats not too
    much for me. Whatever waits for us, we both shall
    share one danger, one salvation. Let young Iulus
    come with me, and let my wife Cerusa follow at a
    distance. (Aeneid 2)

Aeneas--the Roman Hero
  • and I who just before could not be stirred by
    any weapons cast at me or by the crowds of Greeks
    in charging columns, now am terrified by all the
    breezes, startled by every sound, in fear for son
    and father.

translatio studii et imperii the transfer of
culture and empire
  • The transfer or translation (translatio) of
    culture or knowledge (what one studies studium)
    and of political power or legitimacy (what
    creates an empire imperium) from one
    civilization to another.

  • Virgil uses this rhetorical trope of transfer,
    the transfer of culture and empire, to weave
    strands of contemporary Roman history into his
    literary tapestry of ancient wars, legendary
    heroes, and mythical gods.
  • Aeneas serves as the vehicle for transmitting the
    culture of Troy to Rome.
  • Aeneas thereby takes with him not only the gods
    representing his culture, but three generations
    of Trojan heroes past (Anchises), present
    (Aeneas), and future (Ascanius).

Reception of the Aeneid
  • Pro-Augustan propagandizes for the roman
    imperial project of conquest and rule, with its
    attendant moral values of pietas, order, and
  • Anti-Augustan elicits pity for the defeated

  • What is the empire about? Military success?
    Cultural supremacy?
  • Can poets be agents of imperial expansion?