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Livy’s Battle in the Forum between Roman Monuments and Greek Literature

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Chapter Summary

In the first book of ab urbe condita, Livy depicts the decisive battle between the Romans and the Sabines as taking place where later the forum Romanum will be (11.5–13.5). In doing so, he not only offers reasons for the foundation of many of its buildings, but incorporates them into one coherent story-line and thus creates a kind of ‘super-aition’ that ensures a very vivid description. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the origins of this literary technique and to see if it has already been part of the tradition at Rome or if there are other models for this way to present prehistoric events. An intriguing parallel is offered by a fragment from the Atthis of Kleidemos (= Plutarch, Theseus 27.2–7), dealing with the siege of Athens by the Amazons, but the Roman writers and the tradition manifested in many of the monuments of the city will also be taken into account.



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