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Updated 1/22/2011

Lecture 3: Early Rome: myth, history and archaeology; the nature of myths

From Lecture 2: VI E and F - Etruscan influences (cf. Kamm, pp. 6-9)

I. Romulus, Remus, and Rome

A. the Romulus story; Amulius, Numitor, Rhea Silvia (cf. Kamm, pp. 2-5); Remus; lupa
B. Rome before Romulus: Via Salaria, Tiber Island (cf. Kamm, pp. 6-7)
C. archetypes and the heroic pattern; Oedipus, Moses, Cain and Abel
D. the "founding" of the "city" of Rome in 753 B.C.; Latins, pomerium (cf. Plutarch, Romulus, p. 19);
= "seven hills"
E. Romulus as the first stage: Sabines, Vestals, the Senate
F. the second king: Numa

II. Characteristics of foundation myths in Plutarch's Romulus

A. personalizing and moralizing (e.g. Tarpeia, p. 25)
B. aetiological (pp. 10 [kissing women], 13 [fig tree], 19 [pomerium, legions],
20 [patron/client], 23 [Talasio], 24 [trophy], 28 [tribes])
C. aggrandizing (comments on pp. 17, 24)

Note: page numbers refer to original text pages, not Course Packet pages

III. The Etruscan kings

c. 575 B.C.; Servius Tullius, Tarquin the Proud and his son Sextus (see Livy in Course Packet, pp. 21-25); Greek presence;
Jupiter Temple on Capitoline; various fora; Brutus, Lucretia, and the libera res publica (=republic) in 509 B.C. (cf. Kamm, pp. 9-11)

IV. Greco-Roman Myths: main characteristics

A. mythos - logos
B. non-canonical; mutable; e.g., two versions of Romulus' death (Plutarch, Romulus, pp. 32-34)
C. "real"; shared values

7th inning stretch: The Trojan Horse in Australia (

V. The functions of myth

A. myth as history: Aeneas; Troy; Judgment of Paris (Juno/Hera, Minerva/Athena, Venus/Aphrodite); Hellenocentrism;
Theseus and the Minotaur (Pasiphae, Minos, Daedalus and Icarus)

B. 3 main types of myths

1. narrative and entertaining
2. validating; aetiological
3. speculative, explanatory

Application to Romulus

VI. Myths, legends, folktales: any difference?

Example of mobility: Alcestis, Admetus, and Herakles - Heaven can wait

For Thursday, please read the Selections from Livy and Plutarch's Cato in the Course Packet (pp. 21-31, and 73-89),

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