3
Reading the Past

INTRODUCTION

On 18 July 380 BCE, the Praenestines drew up their forces at the river Allia and prepared to attack the Romans. The latter were caught in the midst of recruiting an army to face the emergency, but managed not only to break up the assault but also to drive the enemy back to its city; the Romans then took over the eight towns under Praenestine control, accepted the surrender of the Praenestines, and set up a victory monument (6. 28. 5–29. 10).

That is a military account of the events, but Livy in fact presents the conflict as a battle over knowledge of the past. The Praenestines choose the time and place of battle because they know that the anniversary of the Roman defeat by the Gauls at the Allia in 390 is a cursed day for the Romans, a dies ater; and they assume that fighting in the place itself on the anniversary of the defeat will demoralize the Romans. The Praenestines imagine that the Romans will see the faces of the Gauls and hear their voices.1 The Romans, on the other hand, are thinking of different exempla. They know that they are fighting not Gauls, but Latins, whom they defeated at Lake Regillus over one hundred years earlier. They think that whom they fight matters more than where they fight. And furthermore, they are certain that even if they had to fight Gauls, they would win because they ultimately managed to defeat them too.2

1Inde agrum late populantes, fatalem se urbi Romanae locum cepisse inter se
iactabant: similem pauorem inde acfugamfore ac hello Gallico fuerit; etenim si
diem contactum religione insignemque nomine eius loci timeant Romani, quanto
magis Alliensi die Alliam ipsam, monumentum tantae cladis, reformidaturos?
Species profecto iis ibi truces Gallorum sonumque uocis in oculis atque auribus fore

(6. 28. 5–6).

2Romani contra: ubicumque esset Latinus hostis, satis scire eum esse quern ad
Regillum lacum deuictum centum annorum pace obnoxia tenuerint: locum

-73-

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Livy's Exemplary History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations and Editions Used xi
  • Introduction: Livy's Use of Exempla 1
  • 1: Caudium as Event and Exemplum 32
  • 2: Speaker, Audience, and Exemplum 50
  • 3: Reading the Past 73
  • 4: Past and Present 106
  • 5: Precedents and Change 137
  • 6: Livy, Augustus, and Exempla 168
  • Conclusion: Continuity and Change 197
  • Appendix: Models for Imitation and Avoidance 203
  • Works Cited 215
  • General Index 231
  • Index Locorum 239
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