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Figures of Memory. Aulus Vibenna, Valerius Publicola and Mezentius between History and Legend

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Chapter Summary

The paper deals with three intriguing cases of correspondence between historical or mythical personalities and epigraphic records which show their names as real persons. The cases are the Vergilian hero Mezentius, whose name is inscribed on a 7th century impasto vessel probably from Caere; the Aulus Vibenna remembered by both literary sources and the François Tomb, who signs a 6th century bucchero support from the sanctuary of Portonaccio at Veii; and the republican hero Publius Valerius Publicola, whose name is on a stone basis reused in the temple of Mater Matuta in Satricum towards the end of 6th century. So far, they have been never considered together: on one side this is reasonable, as they belong to three different chronological and cultural spheres; on the other side, an overall approach can provide new suggestions. My aim is specifically to see the phenomenon in the light of recent theoretical approaches as the so-called “Cultural memory”. In this perspective, the analogies and differences between a historical figure and its legendary reconstruction can provide interesting insight into the Etruscan and Roman ways of elaborating an “expanded past”.



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