To analyze and demonstrate knowledge of the cultural values of the ancient Romans.
The theme of this module’s discussion board is class and culture.
Please read the following before answering the questions below: Livy , Ovid.
Please answer the following questions in an original discussion post:
How did Livy and Ovid’s views about marriage and sex in Roman society differ?
In what ways did they seem to share certain assumptions about Roman cultural institutions?
When you have completed your response, please respond to another classmate’s post. You can engage in friendly debate or add additional analysis and points to your classmate’s post.
These two poems take on two very different tones on of them is more dark while the other one is more sensual and secretive. In Livy’s writing the husbands trust that his wife is being virtuous and she was. Sextus Tarquinius returns to Tarquinius Conlantinus’ house and raped his wife Lucretia. After that she calls for help from her father and husband so they can come to her side. But in the end she takes her own life out of shame and guilt of being with another man even though it was by force and her husband did not blame her. She can not live with the shame of being with another man the sorrow and guilt overwhelms her because she feels like she lost her honor. In Ovid’s poem the women seems to enjoy betraying her husband with her secret lover and is not ashamed at all that she is sleeping with another man. The two seem to enjoy the secret affair and are able to hide it from her husband until she becomes jealous when she has to leave him for her husband. You can imply that in Omids poem that he is ok with having a secret affair. It is well known in Roman society that marriage and sex were meant strictly for procreating. In Livy’s poem the poem you can infer that the wife was way more virtuous to the husband on the other hand in Ovid’s poem he talks more about how the women role is to please her husband even if he is against it.
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Livy: The Rape of Lucretia, from the History of Rome
Introduction: Titus Livius (c. 59 BCE – 17 CE) was a Roman historian who wrote the foundational history
of Rome, Ad Urbe Condita (From the Founding of the City). This monumental work traces the history of
the Roman Republic from its foundations through to the present moments of his own lifetime. One thing
to keep in mind while reading Livy’s history is the historical context of its writing—meaning the period in
which it was being written and read and the influence the events of that period may have had on his
writing—as well as his own personal relationships to those in power and his own personal views of the
successes and strengths of Rome and his viewpoint of its failings. In other words, you will want to
consider his bias while reading this.
Questions to consider: How did the events, especially Augustan reforms on social and moral values,
taking place during the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire shape Livy’s perspective of
the past? How does Livy portray the family relationships? Who are portrayed as ideal good characters?
Who are portrayed as villains?
Book 57 [According to Livy the King of the Romans and his army were currently attacking the
neighboring Ardea in search of riches] …
As it commonly happens in standing camps, the war being rather tedious than violent, furloughs were
easily obtained, more so by the officers, however, than the common soldiers. The young princes
sometimes spent their leisure hours in feasting and entertainments. One day as they were drinking in
the tent of Sextus Tarquin, where Collatinus Tarquinius, the son of Egerius, was also at supper, mention
was made of wives. Every one commended his own in an extravagant manner, till a dispute arising about
it, Collatinus said, “There was no occasion for words, that it might be known in a few hours how far his
Lucretia excelled all the rest. If then, added he, we have any share of the vigour of youth, let us mount
our horses and examine the behaviour of our wives; that must be most satisfactory to every one, which
shall meet his eyes on the unexpected arrival of[Pg 75] the husband.” They were heated with wine;
“Come on, then,” say all. They immediately galloped to Rome, where they arrived in the dusk of the
evening. From thence they went to Collatia, where they find Lucretia, not like the king’s daughters-inlaw, whom they had seen spending their time in luxurious entertainments with their equals, but though
at an advanced time of night, employed at her wool, sitting in the middle of the house amid her maids
working around her. The merit of the contest regarding the ladies was assigned to Lucretia. Her husband
on his arrival, and the Tarquinii, were kindly received; the husband, proud of his victory, gives the young
princes a polite invitation. There the villanous passion for violating Lucretia by force seizes Sextus
Tarquin; both her beauty, and her approved purity, act as incentives. And then, after this youthful frolic
of the night, they return to the camp.
A few days after, without the knowledge of Collatinus, Sextus came to Collatia with one attendant only;
where, being kindly received by them, as not being aware of his intention, after he had been conducted
after supper into the guests’ chamber, burning with passion, when every thing around seemed
sufficiently secure, and all fast asleep, he comes to Lucretia, as she lay asleep, with a naked sword, and
with his left hand pressing down the woman’s breast, he says, “Be silent, Lucretia; I am Sextus Tarquin; I
have a sword in my hand; you shall die, if you utter a word.” When awaking terrified from sleep, the
woman beheld no aid, impending death nigh at hand; then Tarquin acknowledged his passion,
entreated, mixed threats with entreaties, tried the female’s mind in every possible way. When he saw
her inflexible, and that she was not moved even by the terror of death, he added to terror the threat of
dishonour; he says that he will lay a murdered slave naked by her side when dead, so that she may be
said to have been slain in infamous adultery. When by the terror of this disgrace his lust, as it were
victorious, had overcome her inflexible chastity, and Tarquin had departed, exulting in having triumphed
over a lady’s honour, Lucretia, in melancholy distress at so dreadful a misfortune, despatches the same
messenger to Rome to her father, and to Ardea to her husband, that they would come each with one
trusty friend; that it was necessary to do so, and that[Pg 76] quickly. Sp. Lucretius comes with P.
Valerius, the son of Volesus, Collatinus with L. Junius Brutus, with whom, as he was returning to Rome,
he happened to be met by his wife’s messenger. They find Lucretia sitting in her chamber in sorrowful
dejection. On the arrival of her friends the tears burst from her eyes; and to her husband, on his inquiry
“whether all was right,” she says, “By no means, for what can be right with a woman who has lost her
honour? The traces of another man are on your bed, Collatinus. But the body only has been violated, the
mind is guiltless; death shall be my witness. But give me your right hands, and your honour, that the
adulterer shall not come off unpunished. It is Sextus Tarquin, who, an enemy in the guise of a guest, has
borne away hence a triumph fatal to me, and to himself, if you are men.” They all pledge their honour;
they attempt to console her, distracted as she was in mind, by turning away the guilt from her,
constrained by force, on the perpetrator of the crime; that it is the mind sins, not the body; and that
where intention was wanting guilt could not be. “It is for you to see,” says she, “what is due to him. As
for me, though I acquit myself of guilt, from punishment I do not discharge myself; nor shall any woman
survive her dishonour pleading the example of Lucretia.” The knife, which she kept concealed beneath
her garment, she plunges into her heart, and falling forward on the wound, she dropped down expiring.
The husband and father shriek aloud.
Brutus, while they were overpowered with grief, having drawn the knife out of the wound, and holding
it up before him reeking with blood, said, “By this blood, most pure before the pollution of royal villany,
I swear, and I call you, O gods, to witness my oath, that I shall pursue Lucius Tarquin the Proud, his
wicked wife, and all their race, with fire, sword, and all other means in my power; nor shall I ever suffer
them or any other to reign at Rome.” Then he gave the knife to Collatinus, and after him to Lucretius
and Valerius, who were surprised at such extraordinary mind in the breast of Brutus. However, they all
take the oath as they were directed, and converting their sorrow into rage, follow Brutus as their leader,
who from that time ceased not to so[Pg 77]licit them to abolish the regal power. They carry Lucretia’s
body from her own house, and convey it into the forum; and assemble a number of persons by the
strangeness and atrocity of the extraordinary occurrence, as usually happens. They complain, each for
himself, of the royal villany and violence. Both the grief of the father moves them, as also Brutus, the
reprover of their tears and unavailing complaints, and their adviser to take up arms against those who
dared to treat them as enemies, as would become men and Romans. Each most spirited of the youth
voluntarily presents himself in arms; the rest of the youth follow also. From thence, after leaving an
adequate garrison at the gates at Collatia, and having appointed sentinels, so that no one might give
intelligence of the disturbance to the king’s party, the rest set out for Rome in arms under the conduct
of Brutus. When they arrived there, the armed multitude cause panic and confusion wherever they go.
Again, when they see the principal men of the state placing themselves at their head, they think that,
whatever it may be, it was not without good reason. Nor does the heinousness of the circumstance
excite less violent emotions at Rome than it had done at Collatia; accordingly they run from all parts of
the city into the forum, whither, when they came, the public crier summoned them to attend the
tribune of the celeres, with which office Brutus happened to be at that time vested. There an harangue
was delivered by him, by no means of that feeling and capacity which had been counterfeited up to that
day, concerning the violence and lust of Sextus Tarquin, the horrid violation of Lucretia and her
lamentable death, the bereavement of Tricipitinus, to whom the cause of his daughter’s death was more
exasperating and deplorable than the death itself. To this was added the haughty insolence of the king
himself, and the sufferings and toils of the people, buried in the earth in cleansing sinks and sewers; that
the Romans, the conquerors of all the surrounding states, instead of warriors had become labourers and
stone-cutters. The unnatural murder of king Servius Tullius was dwelt on, and his daughter’s driving over
the body of her father in her impious chariot, and the gods who avenge parents were invoked by him. By
stating these and other, I suppose, more exasperating circumstances, which though by no means easily
detailed by writers, the heinousness of the case suggested at[Pg 78] the time, he persuaded the
multitude, already incensed, to deprive the king of his authority, and to order the banishment of L.
Tarquin with his wife and children. He himself, having selected and armed some of the young men, who
readily gave in their names, set out for Ardea to the camp to excite the army against the king: the
command in the city he leaves to Lucretius, who had been already appointed prefect of the city by the
king. During this tumult Tullia fled from her house, both men and women cursing her wherever she
went, and invoking on her the furies the avengers of parents.
News of these transactions having reached the camp, when the king, alarmed at this sudden revolution,
was going to Rome to quell the commotions, Brutus, for he had notice of his approach, turned out of the
way, that he might not meet him; and much about the same time Brutus and Tarquin arrived by
different routes, the one at Ardea, the other at Rome. The gates were shut against Tarquin, and an act
of banishment passed against him; the deliverer of the state the camp received with great joy, and the
king’s sons were expelled. Two of them followed their father, and went into banishment to Cære, a city
of Etruria. Sextus Tarquin, having gone to Gabii, as to his own kingdom, was slain by the avengers of the
old feuds, which he had raised against himself by his rapines and murders. Lucius Tarquin the Proud
reigned twenty-five years: the regal form of government continued from the building of the city to this
period of its deliverance, two hundred and forty-four years. Two consuls, viz. Lucius Junius Brutus and
Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, were elected by the prefect of the city at the comitia by centuries,
according to the commentaries of Servius Tullius.
Adapted from: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19725/19725-h/19725-h.htm (accessed 12/11/20)
Ovid: Amores 1.4
Introduction: Publius Ovidius Naso (c. 43 BCE – 17 CE) was a Roman poet who lived during the same
period as Livy and Emperor Augustus. Ovid came from a long distinguished equestrian family and
traveled around the Roman Empire studying rhetoric and Greek poetry. He is considered one of the
most abundant writers of his period. One of his early works is Amores or The Book of Love in which he
recounts the love of a man for an unattainable woman. It is unclear if a specific woman was in mind or if
this in about generic characteristics of love and therefore acts as a commentary on contemporary
Roman society. Below is an excerpt from Book 1, chapter 4 describing a dinner party where the
unattainable woman, who will accompany her husband to the event, is provided with instructions by her
While reading the poem consider how the historical context, the Fall of the Republic and the Rise of the
Empire and the Augustan reform programs, may have influenced Ovid’s ideas. How does his
presentation about love and sex compare to Livy’s? How do you think the genres or the two men’s
relationships to those in power have influenced their portrayals of these fundamentals of Roman
Your husband shall attend the same banquet as we are:
I pray that it may be your husband’s last meal.
Then am I (as a table companion) merely to gaze at the girl
Whom I adore? Will there be another to relish your touch,
Will you snuggle up close to another and warm his breast?
When he wishes will he place his hand upon your neck?
I cease to marvel, that when the wine is served, the fair girl of Atrax
Compelled the men of double-form to fight;
Neither is the forest my home, nor are my limbs joined to a horse:
Yet I hardly seem able to keep my hands from you.
However, understand what you must do, neither give my words
To the East Wind nor to the warm South to carry away.
Arrive before your husband does; I cannot see what can be done,
If you do arrive before him, but regardless, come before him.
When he lies on the couch, you accompanying him with innocent expression
Must when you sit beside him, touch my foot secretly;
Watch me and my nods and my expressive features:
Catch my furtive signs and you yourself return them.
Words that are spoken without voice, I shall speak with my eyebrows;
You will understand the words traced by my fingers, words written in wine.
When the wantonness of our love comes into your mind,
With tender thumb touch your blushing cheeks;
If you shall complain about me in the silence of your mind,
Your soft hand should hang from the end of your ear;
My dear light, when I do or say things which please you,
Turn your ring round and round your fingers;
Touch the table with your hand, as men in prayer do,
When you pray for many sufferings upon your deserving husband.
You should be wise, and bid him drink himself what he mixes for you;
Quietly ask the boy for what you yourself want:
I shall drink first the cup which you have returned.
And I shall drink from the place where you have drunk.
If by chance he offers you what he has first tasted himself
Refuse food that has been touched by his mouth;
He should not squeeze your neck with his imposed arms with your permission,
Nor lay your mild head on his hard chest,
Nor should the folds [of your dress] or soft nipples admit his fingers;
In particular you do not want to give him any kisses.
If you give him kisses, I shall become a declared lover
And say ‘They are mine’ and throw in my hand [to you].
However I will see these [things], but those which a cloak hides well,
They will be a cause of blind fear to me.
Do not engage your thigh with his thigh nor link with his leg
Nor join your tender foot with his hard foot.
Alas, I fear many things, because I have done many reckless things,
And I myself am tortured by the fear of my own example:
Often a hastened passion for me and my mistress
Has accomplished its sweet effort under a cloak thrown on top.
You will not do this; but so that you will not be thought to have done this,
Remove the knowing cloak from your back.
Ask your husband to continuously drink (though do not add kisses to your entreaties),
And while he is drinking, secretly, if you can, add wine.
If he lies well soothed by sleep and wine,
The situation and the place will give us a plan.
When you rise about to leave for home, and we all rise,
Be mindful that you should go into the middle column of the crowd:
In that column you shall find me or be found [by me];
Whatever [part] of me you can touch there, touch it.
Miserable me! I have advised that which benefits us for a few hours;
I am separated from my mistress when night gives the command.
At night her husband will lock her in; with tears welling up I shall follow
Sadly right up to the cruel door, which is allowed.
Now he will receive kisses, now he will take not only kisses:
That which you secretly give to me, you will give by enforced right.
But give unwillingly (this you can do) and like a forced woman:
Flatteries should be silent and Love should be spiteful
If my prayers fare well, I pray that it will also not please him;
If not so well, certainly then [I pray] nothing may please you.
But nevertheless, whatever fortune follows the night,
Tomorrow deny to me with a firm voice that you gave [anything].
Adapted from: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Amores/1.4 (Accessed 12/11/20)
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Cultural Values in the Roman Republic
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