Parade of Romans in Book 6

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  • Created on: 22-04-16 16:51


According to Jupiter's prophecy at 1.257-77, Rome is to be founded in four stages. Aeneas will build his city at Lavinium and live for three years. His son Ascanius will reign for thirty years and transfer the city to Alba Longa. After their descendents, the Alban kings, rule for three hundred years, Romulus (Quirinus), son of Mars and Ilia, will found his city at Rome. But here at 6.763, where Aeneas begins his survey of the Alban kings, waiting in the Underworld, Ascanius, being still alive, is not in the parade, and the first to be mentioned is Silvius, a son of Aeneas not yet born.

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Alban kings

Virgil offers five names to cover the years from about 1053 to 753BC.

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Romulus restored his grandfather Numitor to the throne which Munitor's younger brother has usurped. Romulus then founded Rome in 753BC.

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Julius Caesar, 102 - 44BC, adopted his grand-nephew Octavian as his son and heir.

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Named adopted by Octavian in 27BC.

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From the village of Cures, he gave Rome religion and laws. His traditioal dates are 715 - 673BC.

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Tullius Hostilius, the warrior king, 673 - 642BC.

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Ancus Marcius, 642 - 617 BC, here oly appears as a king who courted popular favour.

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L. Tarquinius Priscus, 616 - 579 C, and L Tarquinius Superbus, 534 - 510 BC.

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L. Junius Brutus led a rising against Tarquinius Superbus to avenge the **** of Lucretia. Later, as one of the first consuls of Rome, in 510 BC, he executed his own two sons who tried to restore the Tarquins. The rods and axes carried by the consuls signified their right to flog and execute. This passage alludes also to the other avenging Brutus who assassinated Julius Caesar.

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P. Decius Mus, father and son of the fame name, were famous for self-immolation, each taking his own life to secure victory for Roman armies, the father in 340 BC in the Latin War and the son in 295 BC in the battle against the Samnites.

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Livia, wife of Augustus from 38 C till his death in AD 14, was a member of this notable Roman family.

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T. Manlius Torquatus led the Roman against the Gauls in 361 BC, and in 340 BC in the Latin War he executed his own son for disobeying orders in engaging and defeating the enemy champion.

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M. Furius Camillus recovered not gold, but the standards said to have been the price of the Gaulish withdrawal from Rome in 390 BC. This passage may also be read as an oblique tribute to Augustus, who, after long negotiations, recovered in 20 BC the standards lost to the Parthians at Carthage in 53 BC.

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Gnaeus Pompeius and Julius Caesar are the two spirits in gleaming armour. Caesar defeated Pompey at the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC.

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L. Mummius sacked Corinth in 146 BC.

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L. Aemilius Paullus is here credited with the conquest of Greece for his defeat of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, at the battle of Pynda in 168 BC.

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M. Porcius Cato, Cato the Elder, 234 - 149 BC, was famed as the custodian of traditional Roman virtues.

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A. Cornelius Cossus defeated Tolumnius, king of the Veienties in single combat, perhaps in 246 BC.

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Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (died 133 BC), and his brother Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (died 121 BC), the two reforming tribunes, were members of the famous Roman family.

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Scipio Africanus Maior defeated Hannibal at Zama in 202 BC. Scipio Africanus Minor destroyed Carthage in 146 BC.

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Gaius Fabricius Luscinus fought against Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, in 80 - 79 BC. The power he found in poverty is an allusion to his rejection of Pyrrhus' gifts.

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Gaius Atilius Regalus was sowing seed (serere: to sow) on his farm when he was called to the consulship in 257 BC. He theefore acquired the name Serranus.

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Anchises at 6.845 calls out to his friends the members of the great Fabian family to ask why they are all in such a hurry to reach the light of life that they are hustling one weary spirit along with them, and then he realises that the problem is not weariness. This is the great Q. Fabius Maximus Cunctator (cunctator: delayer) who used Fabian tactics against Hannibal in 217 - 216 BC in the Second Punic War. He is not tired. It is his nature to delay!

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M. Claudius Marcellus, consul five times, killed the Gaulish chieftain Viridomarus in single combat in 222 BC, thus becoming the third Roman, after Romuls and Cossus, to win the Supreme Spoils (Spolia Opima). Augustus was eager to make sure that there would not be a forth (see Livy 4.20.5). The younger M. Claudius Marcellus (42 - 23 BC) was the son of Augustus' sister Octavia, and was adopted by Augustus in 25 BC. Ancient life of Virgil (Vita Donatii 32) describe how, when Virgil was reading this passage to Octavia and Augustus, Octavia swooned when he reached line 882.

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