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The Roman Identity - Essay Example

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The core value that is examined in this paper is the devotion to family and home based on mos maiorum, "the way of our elders. This was not a written code or law but one that was passed down from one generation to the next. The Romans knew these by heart and thus did not feel the need to write them down…
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The Roman Identity
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Download file to see previous pages Traditions were supported with the mos maiorum. According to tradition the father was the one who made decisions in the family. These decisions were as basic as acknowledging parentage when a baby was born to deciding who his children would marry.
In a larger sense Roman society had identity defined by where they were (Alban vs. Roman, etc.), city names and traditions specific to cities. In Livy's book one, the first paragraph shows how the Romans took their beliefs seriously especially when it came to hospitality:
"To begin with, it is generally admitted that after the capture of Troy, whilst the rest of the Trojans were massacred, against two of them--Aeneas and Antenor--the Achivi refused to exercise the rights of war, partly owing to old ties of hospitality". (Livy, 1.1)
Rules, written or unwritten were important to the Romans. Later in the first chapter Livy records how the issue of hospitality reared its head again when Romulus invited all the nearest peoples to a celebration. When the people were in his city they were invited into Roman homes throughout the city. A signal was given and Roman youths carried away the unmarried women. Of course this made a lot of people upset and Romulus was accused of violating the rules of hospitality:
maidens retired, complaining of the violated compact of hospitality, and invoking the god, to whose solemn festival and games they had come, having been deceived by the pretence of religion and good faith." (Livy 1.)
The compact of hospitality shows commitment of the Romans and their guests to certain rules, principals, or values. By ordering the women carried off Romulus was, in fact, violating the rights of the fathers to decide who their daughters would marry (called patria potestas). This was Romulus' attempt to solve the problem of too few women in his community. It was paterfamilias that gave the father this right to rule over his family. Roman society outside the home was an extension of paterfamilias. Outside the family the Romans belonged to a patron who took care of his charges during good and bad times. This patron in turn received the support of his charges. The selection is quoted to show how committed the people of that time were to their beliefs, religion, and good faith and how their beliefs/laws were violated.
The Rome that Livy writes about contains numerous examples of how important family values were. Rome's growth was physical and moral. The Romans were caught up in the beauty of their land and the love for their families:
"Before they had become united in spirit by commitment to wives and children and by love for the soil the nation not yet grown up, would have been torn apart by dissension" (Livy, 2.1)
The challenge to maintain the values and virtues of Roman society was met with temptations and excesses. Many Romans fell to these temptations:
"There has never been any state grander, purer, or richer in good examples, or one into which greed and luxury gained entrance so late" (Preface)
"Among the Roman youth there were several of high birth who had lived under the monarchy a more irresponsible and pleasure seeking lifemissed the license that had been theirs and with everyone now enjoying equal rights they began to complain ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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