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Sacrifice, Initiation, and the Construction of the Patria
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4. Sacrifice, Initiation, and the Construction of the Patria

Livy begins his narrative with the destruction of Troy and the flight of the survivors to Italy. However, Aeneas was not the only Trojan leader to found a new city in the West. There were two men, Aeneas and Antenor, whom the Greeks spared because of ties of hospitality and because both argued for the return of Helen and the restoration of peace:

Now, first of all, it is sufficiently established that, after Troy was captured, the other Trojans were slaughtered, but in the case of two men, Aeneas and Antenor, the Greeks held back from exercising their rights as conquerors [omne ius belli…abstinuisse] both as a result of ancient ties of guest friendship and because these two had argued for peace and the return of Helen. Then through various accidents, Antenor, together with a population of Eneti, who had been expelled from Paphlagonia by sedition and were seeking a new leader after the death of their king, Pylaemenes, enter the innermost reaches of the Adriatic Sea, and, when the Eugenaeans, who dwelt between the sea and the Alps, had been driven out, the Trojans and Eneti took possession of their lands. And so the place where they disembarked is called Troy, and the region is known as Trojan; the people as a whole are called the Veneti. Aeneas, driven from his home by the same misfortune, but with the fates leading him on to the beginnings of greater things, went first to Macedonia, then was borne to Sicily, seeking a permanent settlement, and from Sicily held his course to the Laurentian fields. This place, too, is called Troy.

Two elements in Livy’s account will particularly surprise the reader of the Aeneid. First is the emphasis on personal propriety and obedience to ius on the part of both Trojans and Greeks. This Aeneas does not fight his way out of the burning city; it is mutual respect for ancient tradition that ensures his survival. But more remarkable is the suggestion of an alternative Trojan inheritance in Italy. Antenor as well as Aeneas founded a new race, and although “the fates led Aeneas on to the beginnings of greater things,” there is no qualitative distinction between the two, no plan of Jupiter, nor any reference yet to divine birth. Antenor’s descendants are the Veneti and the place where he lands is the historian’s own birthplace, Padua. Livy’s initial pairing of Aeneas and Antenor therefore reminds us that the Roman national myth is not unique or inevitable, that there are other possible pasts, and particularly that the historian himself, who was a citizen of Rome but a native of Padua, is thus in a position to choose between the heritage of Antenor, which he abandons after two sentences in the narrative, and that of Aeneas, which he will follow for 142 books.[1]

Implicit at the beginning of the History is the choice between two patriae, Rome and Padua, and the creation of Rome as a nation is synchronized with the historian’s adoption of Roman nationality, as represented by the decision to narrate the res that follow from Aeneas’s foundation.[2] Moreover a change in national identity is necessary not only for the historian but for Aeneas himself, who begins life as a Trojan but must find a new nation. Indeed, the first four sentences of the narrative present an array of conflicting and overlapping national identities, each set in motion by war or sedition and blurred by the process of wandering: the Eneti too are expelled from their land, and the Trojan refugees take on their name; their original settlement is called Troy, but as such becomes one of three places that can be so designated. In these respects, the Trojan emigration predicts a crucial pattern in the development of the Roman state. Throughout its history, and particularly during its beginnings, Rome grows through absorption. New territories necessitate the incorporation of new citizens. Romulus himself, the next founder of Rome, comes from Alba, and his fellow citizens are exiles and fugitives. In striking contrast to the Athenian national myth, in which the first kings are born from the soil itself, and where birth is stressed as a criterion of citizenship, Romans are made, not born. Thus it is particularly appropriate that the first event in Roman history is the destruction of a previous fatherland, Troy.

The making of citizens was not just a matter of historical interest in Rome of the first century B.C.E. Rather, the historian’s treatment of the past highlights a crucial issue in contemporary political life. After the incorporation of the Italian allies, the citizen population had grown from 395,000 in 115 B.C.E. to about 1.5 million in 28 B.C.E., according to a conservative estimate.[3] Not only did this vast population of new Romans, who were already cives of their own cities, have to think of themselves as members of the Roman patria, but in the face of such expansion, the very term civis, which had originally described a participant in a tangible community of peers, required redefinition for all citizens. Nor is it inappropriate to adopt the perspective of the individual citizen here. The Romans themselves recognized that the subjective dimension, the individual’s identification of himself as a Roman citizen, was fully as important as issues of law and public procedure in questions of citizenship. Thus Cicero in the Pro Balbo claims that “our right of changing citizenship [ius civitatis mutandae]…depends not only on public laws but also on the will of the private citizen.” (Pro Balb. 27).[4]

But the civic identity of the newly enfranchised was only the most obvious dimension of a much larger issue. Both the Late Republic and the Early Principate perceived a crisis in public participation, whether real or not.[5] Loyalty to one’s native state could hinder full identification with the res publica, but so could political factionalism, or philosophical precepts, or the love of leisure. Friends, family, books, or even the body could equally usurp the rightful place of the community as the center of loyalty and attention.[6] A Lucullus ostentatiously opting out of his political career and Augustus’s upbraiding of an unproductive, alienated aristocracy demonstrate but two aspects of this phenomenon.[7] Thus the importance of citizenship as an issue in Livy’s text is not restricted to those in his audience who, like Livy himself, were not native Romans. The reintegration of the patria involved the incorporation of those within as well as of outsiders. Luxuria, the force that has corroded the Roman state, shuts off the individual from the collective life of the state, and history, as I argued in chapter 1, seeks to reestablish this contact.

This chapter analyzes how the transition between non-citizen and citizen is accomplished in an extended episode from Livy’s first book, the defeat and incorporation of Alba Longa, ancestral city of the first Roman king and thus a vital link between Rome and Troy. To a greater extent than Rome’s other early enemies, the Albans shared links with the Romans that rendered it difficult to differentiate them as foreign enemies, and their incorporation is ultimately presented as a reunification of what is essentially one nation. In this respect, the conflict between Rome and Alba bears a special relevance to the internal struggles from which Rome had just emerged at the time when the History was composed. Indeed, Livy makes the comparison explicit by saying that the struggle between Rome and Alba was “most like a civil war” and even “almost like a war between fathers and sons” (1.23.1). The last description not only conjures up the most terrifying image of the civil strife of the author’s own day but also extends the significance of the conflict from the level of national identity to the more intimate sphere of the family, just as the civic conflicts of the first century were shown to disrupt society at every level.[8]

Throughout Livy’s account of the fall of Alba, the bond between the individual citizens and their patria is forged and tested by making them spectators at acts of violence. First, Albans and Romans watch a duel between two sets of triplets representing each city, whose outcome will determine which side will possess imperium over the other. After the duel, the Romans look on as the victorious Horatius kills his sister for mourning one of the dead Albans, and then face the possibility of witnessing the execution of their own champion. Then the rebellious Albans are compelled to be spectators as their dictator, Mettius Fufetius, is ripped apart by chariots. And this event in turn leads to the physical transferal of the Albans from their native city to Rome, their new patria, in a scene that stands out in Livy’s text for its descriptive power.

The link between spectacle and civic identity, which receives recurrent emphasis and exploration throughout this portion of Livy’s narrative, can in turn tell us something about the function of the History in addressing the social crises of its own age. If these spectacles contain the mechanism for establishing the bond of citizenship, then the historian by reproducing them for his own audience is doing more than describing the past, or even analyzing it in terms of contemporary anxieties. His text possesses a performative dimension, a power to effect the same transformation among his own readers and listeners. But before turning to the narrative itself, we must explore more fully how the Romans conceptualized the bond between the citizen and the Republic and how these conceptions underlie the model of patriotic participation adopted in Livy’s early books.

I. The Boundaries of the Patria

At Rome every five years, when the censors drew up their list of Roman citizens, the members of the state assembled on the Campus Martius, and a pig, sheep, and bull were led around them in a circle and then sacrificed. The same ritual performance, called a lustratio, was used to prepare an army for battle and to purify the weapons and trumpets before and after each campaign. In 28 B.C.E., after a lapse of forty-one years, Augustus restored the census, together with the performance of a lustratio, as a part of his renewal of Roman civic rituals after the end of the civil wars.[9] Whatever proportion of Roman citizens had actually experienced such a lustration, the frequent depictions of the scene in art,[10] its recurrence throughout the Roman religious calendar, and Augustus’s very interest in restoring it show how profoundly the performance was associated with the constitution of the civic body. The ritual’s structure both expresses and gives shape to the Roman conceptualization of what it means to become a citizen.

The lustratio used to be thought of primarily as a purificatory ritual and many attempts were made to connect it etymologically with the root that means cleanse.[11] But as Versnel emphasizes, lustration rituals generally take place at the beginnings of enterprises rather than at their conclusions. The army is lustrated before, not after, a battle, when there is no blood guilt to be purged. In consequence, Versnel argues that in addition to its purifying or apotropaic elements, the act of lustratio also possessed a constitutive function, defining the group preparatory to collective action.[12] Within the ritual, it is most obviously the gesture of encirclement by the procession of priests and victims that differentiates the group from the outside world. The exclusionary as well as inclusive nature of lustratio appears from the instructions that survive in an Umbrian inscription from the city of Gubbio, where the ceremony begins with the explicit and elaborate listing of foreign peoples who are commanded to depart.[13] The second element of the lustratio, the sacrifice, may be rationalized as a gift to the gods for their protection of the lustrated body,[14] but, as discussed more fully later in this chapter, sacrifice itself can function as a mechanism of social bonding and in this respect complements the constitutive function implied in the gesture of encirclement.

But the use of lustration, as of sacrifice, extends far beyond rituals involving the entire state. The earliest reference to lustration describes its application to a farmer’s field,[15] and the combination of animals used in the procession suggests an agricultural origin. Moreover, its use was not limited to Rome; as we have seen, the most detailed description of lustration comes from an Umbrian city. Even the individual body was lustrated both nine days after birth (eight days for females) and nine days after death.[16] In the case of the lustration of babies, the obvious protective function of the practice is once again coupled with a constitutive dimension. It is at the ceremony of the dies lustricus that the baby is given a name and thus acquires an identity.[17] The multiplicity of possible lustrationes creates an image of each individual enclosed, not just within the magic circle of the state, but within any number of different rings, each of which define him as a member of a particular social entity, such as a local community or a particular family. At the smallest level, even the body emerges as microcosm of the whole.

A map of affiliations similar to the one suggested by these overlapping lustrationes also underlies discussions of conflicts of loyalties in Cicero’s ethical writings. Although his native town of Arpinum had obtained citizenship three generations before his birth, and he himself was even awarded the title of pater patriae for his services to Rome, Cicero is still at pains to define the relationship between his native place and the Roman res publica. As book 2 of the De legibus begins, Atticus is surprised to hear Cicero refer to Arpinum as his patria, and Cicero responds by asserting that “everyone from the towns has two patriae, one of nature, and one of citizenship.”[18] Already the problem of terminology arises; Cicero must create the terms patria naturae, “natural fatherland,” and patria civitatis, “fatherland of citizenship,” to articulate the division of what had been a unitary idea. Ultimately, it is not the venerable opposition between nomos and phusis that justifies greater allegiance to the larger patria but the larger extent of the community. “It is necessary that the patria, where the name of res publica is a marker of our common citizenship, stand first in our affections; for which we ought to die and to which we ought to devote ourselves entirely and upon which as an altar we ought to set and as it were sacrifice all our goods.” In the De officiis, a much larger set of possible societies, extending all the way to the human species, is again sorted by size. The inner core is defined by the family, with the husband and wife at its center. The emotional bond within the family is based both on a natural desire for propagation[19] and, at a further remove, on benevolentia and caritas arising from the sharing of monumenta maiorum, religious rites, and burial places.[20] On the basis of this organization, it seems as though the nearer bond should predominate. Yet after apparently leading to this conclusion, at the climax of the whole discussion, Cicero says that no bond is carior or gravior than that which links us to the res publica.[21] Here the order of rating these associations is suddenly reversed. In contrast to the centripetal tendency of the previous discussion, the Republic is now to be valued most highly precisely because it surrounds all other forms of community. “The one patria has embraced [complexa est] all the loves [caritates] of all.”[22]

But Cicero’s appeal to caritas as a motive for patriotism contains the kernel of a paradox that would recur frequently in Roman discussions of civic participation.[23] It has been argued that the new allegiance to Rome presented no conflicts for the new citizens because it existed “on a different level” from the previous citizenship to the native state.[24] In the sense that Roman citizenship supplemented rather than replaced municipal citizenship, it was not in direct competition with it. However in the De legibus, the distinction between “legal” citizenship and “natural” or affective citizenship does not imply a qualitative difference in the kind of bond that obtains between the citizen and his two patriae; it is on the same subjective scale of dearness or caritas that the more distant state must prevail over the smaller.[25] And the reality of this conflict is revealed when Cicero immediately qualifies his ringing call for patriotism: “However, the patria that bore us is dear in almost the same way as that which receives us.”[26] Thus Cicero’s formulation seems less a schematized resolution of this possible conflict of loyalties than a diagnosis of an abiding tension in the construction of each individual’s civic identity. Yet there is a still larger contradiction in this model of patriotism. It is not sufficient simply to serve the patria because we understand that it protects and enfolds those nearer groups like wife and family whom we love “naturally.” Cicero demands that we feel even greater love for the state than we do for other associations: we must, in other words, think of the Republic in the same terms in which we think of the family and even subordinate to this entity those nearer bonds on which patriotism itself is originally based.

The canonical images of Roman patriotism highlight the rejection of these “inner circles” for the interest of the state. Cincinnatus leaves his farm to become dictator; Brutus presides over the execution of his sons for treason; and Mucius Scaevola, in what is effectively a declaration of Roman citizenship,[27] burns off his hand. Livy constructs the Cincinnatus episode, which is explicitly directed at those who prefer wealth to virtus (4.26.7), to emphasize particularly the passage into the public space, from which Cincinnatus’s farm is symbolically separated by the Tiber River. His famous gesture of putting on the toga recalls the assumption of the toga virilis by every youth as he entered manhood. And the procession that receives the dictator, after he has been carried across the Tiber “on a public ship,” recapitulates the transition: “Three sons went to meet him, next intimates and friends, then the majority of the Senate.”

Such exempla not only teach the subordination of the smaller unit in the interests of the larger state but also reinforce both the interdependency and the parallelism between family, state, and body. As we shall see in chapter 5, at the moment when Brutus puts the interest of the state ahead of his paternal feeling, his relationship to the patria is redefined as that between a father and his children. Other explicitly didactic moments of Livy’s early books similarly encourage a perception of the state not just as the protector of the family or body but as a family or body. For example, after a performance of the “Great Games,” the plebeian Titus Latinius receives a prophetic dream warning him that the city is in danger because the games have not been properly conducted (2.36).[28] Before the spectacle began, a paterfamilias had had his slave killed in the arena. Latinius is afraid that he will be laughed at if he tells anyone about his dream and so disregards it. A few days later his son dies. When he hesitates even longer, his own body is stricken with disease. The event implies more than the interconnectedness of family and state; it suggests that the res publica is a family or body in macrocosm.[29] The same point lies behind the famous parable of the belly and the limbs, which the patrician Menenius Agrippa tells to a group of plebeians who are trying to sever their bonds to the Rome and form a new city (2.32.8–12). When the limbs, or plebeians, begrudge food to the belly, which represents the patricians, they themselves begin to fail. Thus the inherent comparability of the state to the family or the body provides a constant resource for the generation of collective loyalty; plebeians blind to the functioning of the state as a whole can be made to perceive its indissolubility when projected onto the level of the body.[30]

Nor is this message directed only at controlling the lower classes; patricians as well as plebeians are inclined both to place concerns for their honor above the welfare of the state and to miss the integral connection between family and res publica. Thus the patrician rebel Coriolanus, in the scene that concludes the complex of episodes beginning with Latinius’s dream, abandons his attack on Rome when his mother makes him realize that by becoming an enemy to the state, he has also changed his relationship to his family.[31] When Coriolanus attempts to embrace her, his mother asks whether she comes as a captive to a conqueror or as a mother to a son (2.40.6). The lurid possibility that Coriolanus’s mother might become his slave, and, as such, his concubine, reveals in the most powerful way the complete inversion of the structure of the familia.

One further demonstration of this pattern of interdependency from Livy’s second book suggests a more complex relationship between the entities of body and state (2.23). An old soldier who has been reduced to abject misery by debt slavery hurls himself into the middle of the Forum. Exhausted, he can only point to the scars he has earned in battle. When he finally begins to speak, he chronicles how public misfortunes and unjust economic practices have reduced him to misery. The exigencies of recent wars, raids, and the taxes required to maintain Rome’s military endeavors have forced him from his ancestral farm (ager paternus avitusque, 2.23.6), which, through the adjectives applied to it, becomes emblematic of the family as a whole. Finally, after having been cast into slavery, his misfortune, “as though a disease [velut tabem] reached his body” (2.23.6), in the form of the marks of the lash, which he then reveals to the crowd. The speech illustrates the predictable pattern. Evils afflicting the state work inward to destroy the family and waste the body until the body becomes a “text” where the health of the community can be clearly perceived. Indeed, this “text,” with its division between the honorable scars won in foreign wars and the shameful lash marks that testify to his domestic misfortunes, mirrors the traditional annalistic alternation between foreign and internal affairs employed in Livy’s own history.

A closer look at how Livy has structured his narrative suggests that the relationship between body and state serves as more than an intellectualized schema of similarities employed for solely didactic purposes. The impact of the state on the body can be thought of less as a series of causes and effects projected inward than as a kind of quasi-magical sympathy by which the body receives influences from the whole. Livy’s description of the interaction between the individual soldier and the crowd highlights a mutual exchange of energy affecting both the spectators and the object of their gaze. After hurling himself into the Forum, the old soldier seems able to take no further action. Indeed, he appears hardly human; the narrative breaks him down into his constituent parts, filthy clothes, a disgusting bodily condition, a long beard, and disheveled hair. This condition is explicitly stated to have “made his appearance wild.”[32] That a capable human form slowly emerges from this image of impotence and subhumanity is largely due to the activity of the spectators themselves. By being recognized, the old man is given an identity and a past. Finally, he himself takes part in the process by pointing out his wounds, witnesses (testes) of his past public service.

As the presence of the crowd of onlookers reanimates the old soldier, they themselves begin to take on a coherent shape and purpose. At first, there is no mention of the number or organization of the onlookers. We become aware that there is in fact an audience only when the old man is recognized by someone (2.23.4). Yet as the soldier, now identifiable as such, becomes active and is about to speak, we are informed that a crowd, turba, has gathered and has come to approximate the form of a political assembly (prope modo contionis [2.23.5]). Moreover, after he finds a voice, the crowd too becomes articulate, responding with clamor to his revelations (2.23.7). Finally, the crowd breaks its bounds and aggressively invades the whole city.

In this case, the effect of the spectacle of the old soldiers is not to reunite the state but to create essentially an alternative state, which is only reconciled several years later by the parable of Menenius Agrippa. Nevertheless, the scene is important for our purposes because it recapitulates the concentric social groups by which an individual can be defined, and suggests the reciprocal interdependence among them. Moreover, it demonstrates the role of visual contact as the locus of exchange where this interdependence is brought into play and where the various “rings” influence one another. Both of these ideas play a large role in Livy’s depiction of the fusion of Alba and Rome.

II. The Horatii and Curiatii

The Roman victory over the Albans was practically bloodless even for the losers. There was no siege, and in place of a formal battle, both sides had agreed to let the contest between them be decided by the outcome of a combat between two sets of triplets. Thus when the Roman troops come to destroy Alba itself, they are confronted with a paradox; technically, the city has already fallen, but its appearance is unchanged:

There was none of the uproar and terror that usually belongs to captured cities, when after the gates have been broken down, the walls laid low by battering rams, and the citadel taken by force, the cries of the enemy and the rush of armed men through the city throw all things into confusion with fire and sword, but a sad calm and silent sorrow so cast down the spirits of all that they kept asking one another what they should leave behind and what they should take with them, their own judgment failing out of fear, and now they stood in the doorways, now they wandered aimlessly to look upon their homes for this last time.

Aeneas left Troy when it was already burning, but the Albans are suddenly forced to abandon both their city and their homes intact in order to make the journey to Rome. Although the Albans’ plight in one sense is the opposite of that of the Ciceronian persona, for whom the native place of Arpinum will continue to be a lingering alternative, Livy’s treatment of the scene emphasizes the moment when local ties are surrendered and the Albans become members of a new state, which, unlike the city they must renounce, is invisible.

But as the outcry of the knights ordering them to leave pressed in upon them and the crash of the buildings that were being destroyed on the edges of the city was heard and the dust rising from distant places had filled everything as if with a cloud, snatching up whatever they could, they went out leaving behind their household gods and the buildings where they were born and raised.

These Albans had not been present at the loss of the duel that ended the autonomy of their city, nor when their dictator had been torn apart by chariots for violating the treaty. They experience the fall of their state as a ring of destruction, which gradually closes in on each individual spectator, advancing from “the farthest parts of the city,” until, like a cloud, it blocks out the sight of their homes.[33]

Alba possesses a special relationship to Rome unlike any other enemy. Not only was it the “native patria”of the first Roman king, but many of Rome’s great families, including the Julii themselves, came to Rome only after its fall (1.30.1–2). By relating this detail just after the description of the sack of the city, Livy blurs the boundary between Roman and enemy. In becoming Romans, the Albans bind themselves to the imperium of the victorious city alone; Albans as a category cease to exist. But by the same token, it becomes impossible to demarcate the pathetic experiences that befall the Albans as something belonging to a distinct, enemy people.[34] The Roman nation is as much a legacy of the destruction of Alba as of the victory of Rome. In fact, despite the destruction of its secular buildings, Alba continues to survive as a religious center, an eternally “absent” city.[35] In this sense, Livy’s narrative of its destruction constitutes a challenge in perspective for his contemporary audience. If allegiance is strictly defined by citizenship, there is no question but that the audience will identify itself with the Romans; even the Albans themselves at the moment when their city is destroyed are technically Romans. But the claims of ancestry and heritage, the very factors that move the defeated Albans, resist a purely nationalist interpretation. The conflict between Rome and Alba, a quasi-legendary event, which on its own could not possibly inspire any strong feelings in the first century B.C.E., becomes a means of articulating and responding to one of the central crises of Livy’s day, the fault lines implicit in the construction of a Roman national identity.

However, the problem of distinguishing between Alba and Rome is not confined to Livy’s audience; it is explicitly addressed at the beginning of the historian’s account of the Alban war.[36] Not only does Livy emphasize the similarities between the institutions and ancestry of the two peoples,[37] but even the motives of the conflict are the same for both sides. “By chance it happened that Roman shepherds were plundering Alban land, and the Albans were plundering Roman land in turn.…Embassies were sent on each side at almost the same time” (1.22.3–4). And beyond the immediate causes of war, both sides are motivated by a similar desire for conflict. Tullus Hostilius, the new Roman king is eager for glory and also fears that the Romans have been debilitated by too long a period of peace. The Alban dictator emphasizes this point in his address to the Romans: “If the true cause of the war rather than its pretenses [speciosa dictu] must be declared, the desire for glory has driven two related and neighboring peoples to arms” (1.23.7). Such an admission, which the audience knows to be largely valid for the Roman side, seriously undercuts the logic of the “just war,” by which the Romans interpreted victories over their opponents as proof that their own claims for restitution were legitimate and their conduct of negotiations formally correct. Beyond that, as we saw in chapter 2, military success validates the society as a whole, from the physical prowess of its individual soldiers to the propriety of its political and religious practices, and ultimately to the historical tradition that gave rise to them. But since the Albans share the same institutions and history, the kinds of distinction that the Romans used to define a foreign enemy are rendered meaningless.[38]

The first attempt to establish a distinction between Roman and Alban consists of a trick involving the diplomatic procedures leading up to the declaration of war. Both sides had sent embassies demanding restitution simultaneously, but Tullus Hostilius puts off the Alban ambassadors with excessive hospitality until he is informed that the Roman claims have already been rejected by the Alban king. Therefore the Romans can legitimately (pie [1.22.4]) declare war. “Announce to your king,” Tullus tells the Albans, “that the Roman king calls upon the gods as witnesses of which people first rejected the embassy, so that they might exact all the losses of war against them” (1.22.7). This trickery may seem dubious or even impious, but the Romans expected their leaders to be clever manipulators in the dealings between men and gods.[39] Not only will the king’s claim be confirmed by the eventual Roman victory, but his use of appearances to trick the Albans, particularly his sudden revelation to the ambassadors that they are being watched by the gods, foreshadows the other decisive moments in the conflict.

Mettius Fufetius, who has become leader of the Albans after the death of their king, explicitly poses the question of discrimination between the two peoples just as the two armies are on the verge of battle (1.23.7–9). He dismisses both sides’ claims about the responsibility for the conflict as mere pretenses (speciosa dictu) and exposes the true causes of the war as a mutual desire for power (cupido imperii). Given this shared ambition, the task, he says, is to “find a way to decide which people will rule the other without a great slaughter of either” (1.23.9). For the empire of the Etruscans, their common enemies, surrounds both peoples. In making this appeal to fear of a common enemy, Mettius employs the same argument that will be frequently used in resolving internal disunity at Rome, the exposure of an encircling Other whose presence defines the warring factions as allies.[40] Mettius goes on to describe the relationship among the three peoples through the metaphor of a spectacle: “Be mindful…these two armies in battle will be a spectacle [for the Etruscans], so that they will attack conqueror and conquered together, weary and depleted” (Memor esto, iam cum signo pugnae dabis, has duas acies spectaculo [sc. Etruscis] fore ut fessos confectosque simul victorem ac victum adgrediantur [1.23.9]). The Etruscans will be able to watch unconcerned as the two armies weaken themselves to the point of being able to offer no resistance. The spectator, this model implies, detached from the action he observes, occupies a position of superiority and is able to gain from the conflict of those he watches without risk. This view of spectacle is of a piece with Mettius’s earlier dismissal of the demands of the ambassadors as “specious.” The Roman king, as we have seen, far from dismissing appearances as irrelevant, is eager to win his competition with the Albans even on the level of the speciosa. Thus the Romans’ belief in the efficacy and validity of appearances already appears as a crucial difference between the two peoples, and in fact the manipulation of appearances will play an ever-larger role in the subsequent contest.

The result of Mettius’s speech is that both sides agree to solve their dispute through a duel between two sets of triplets, the Horatii and Curiatii, whose outcome will decide “which people will rule which.” Initially, the Albans seem likely to prevail, as they kill the first two Romans and face the last with a three to one advantage. But finally the survivor manages to overcome all three of his opponents. The actions of the Horatii exemplify the conceptions of patriotism just analyzed. Like Mucius Scaevola and other exemplary figures, such as Torquatus and Corvus, the triplets agree to risk their own lives in the interest of their patria. Furthermore, the progressive isolation of the surviving Horatius, first from the state as a whole and then from his slaughtered brothers, draws attention precisely to the concentric levels of social affiliation out of which, according to the Ciceronian model, patriotism is built.[41]

But the Roman’s victory depends on drawing together the interests of family and state as well as placing them in the correct hierarchy. Thus when he kills the last Curiatius, Horatius cries that he “has given two [Albans] to the shades of his brothers, and now slays the third in order that the Romans shall rule the Albans.” In contrast, for the last Alban, the family loss keeps him from fighting effectively; he is “already defeated by the slaughter of his brothers.”[42] Moreover Horatius’s very body takes on an important quality of the state as a whole, its indivisibility. Although his two brothers have been killed, Horatius is integer and is later described as intactum.[43] This “wholeness” contrasts with the Albans’ disintegration at every level. The climax of the fight comes after the first two Romans have been killed and the Albans surround the survivor.[44] Here Horatius makes the crucial decision to separate them by fleeing, a device that leaves an indelible visual trace in the three monuments of the dead Albans, “separated by intervals,” which Livy describes at the end of the battle (1.25.14). By separating his opponents, Horatius has moved from a contest between groups to one between individuals, where the integrity of his body can prevail over the wounded Albans.[45]

By agreeing to have their conflict settled by a duel while the rest of the armies simply look on, the Romans and Albans have effectively set up a spectacle very similar to that imagined by Mettius Fufetius. Both armies avoid mutual destruction by choosing surrogates to fight for them and participate only as spectators, free from danger. But unlike the hypothetical Etruscan spectators, the two armies are not disconnected from the fate of those they watch. As Livy describes the duel, he emphasizes the same set of reciprocal links between spectators and spectacle, crowd and individual, that we saw in the episode of the old soldier. Thus rather than distancing the watcher from the event, spectacle forms a bridge between the spectators and their champions by which the larger and smaller groups are brought into contact with one another. The crowds encourage and inspire their champions and in turn respond to their defeats and victories with an excitement or despair that makes them collectively mirror the attributes of the individual.

Livy’s account of the spectators’ anxiety as they watch the duel goes back to a very famous literary model, Thucydides’ description of the battle in the harbor of Syracuse, where the land armies can only look on as the naval combat decides their fate.[46] But one crucial difference between the two narratives reveals Livy’s particular emphasis. Thucydides’ account focuses on the inability of each spectator to gain a clear understanding of the course of the battle as a whole because of the limited perspective from which he views it. Those who happen to see the Athenians winning are encouraged; those who see them being defeated are despondent. As a result, the experiences of the spectators, described in highly physical language, depend entirely on the emotions generated by their limited perceptions of events, rather than the influence of the complete events themselves. Even though Livy’s narrative of the duel has the combatants chase each other for great distances over uneven terrain, there is never a moment when they are out of sight of either army or where either side is in any doubt about who is who.[47] Thus Livy has sacrificed strict verisimilitude in order to keep the link between spectators and spectacle unbroken.

The exchange between the spectator armies and the individual combatants, like that between the crowd and the soldier, impacts equally upon watcher and watched. At the simplest level, the armies inspire their champions by shouting encouragement, and conversely the successes or failures of the individuals inspire or distress the larger groups. But Livy’s vivid description lends these effects an air of physicality that suggests a more radical sympathy between crowd and individual: the responses of the spectator armies mimic the very combat that the duel was designed to prevent. The watching armies are “raised up, held suspended, in their mind they are stretched out[48] toward the unpleasant spectacle.” When the battle begins, “mighty terror binds the spectators, and while hope is inclined on neither side, their voice and spiritus grow dull” (1.25.4). This sentence gives the effect of their anxiety not only an air of uniformity but also an almost anatomical specificity. The experiences of the group are thus described in terms applicable to a single individual.[49] Moreover the dulling of the spectators’ spiritus mirrors precisely the experience of the dying Horatii, who are described with the cognate word exspirantes (1.25.5).[50] Correspondingly, Livy describes the combatants as like a battle line (acies) bearing the courage (animi) of great armies (1.25.3). The few actors lose their individual identities and an awareness of their individual fates in assuming responsibility for the destiny of their cities. Conversely, each of the spectators must individually experience the physical effects suffered by the bodies that represent them.[51]

Livy also correlates the process of watching with the fulfillment of the purpose for which the duel was designed, to allow for a distinction to be made between the two peoples, “to decide which will rule [imperent] which” (1.23.9). The first five sentences of his description contain no proper nouns or adjectives, referring only to “each side” or simply “they.”[52] At the beginning of the combat, not only do Albans and Romans share the same experiences, but the narrative makes it literally impossible for the audience to distinguish one side from the other. Correspondingly, Livy has already remarked that although he follows those who say that it was the Horatii who fought for Rome, there are other versions that call the Curiatii the Roman champions, an admission that further blurs the distinction between the two sides almost at the expense of the authority of his own narrative.[53] The indifferentiability of the two sides persists until the instant when an action on the battlefield inclines the advantage toward one side. Two of the Horatii are quickly killed by the Albans. Thus an inequality is established, which is immediately registered both among the spectators, who necessarily respond differently, and in the narrative itself, where the terms Albani and Romani allow the reader to tell the two sides apart for the first time (1.25.5).

But the spectators’ responses do not just provide an index of difference recording the progress of the combat. After the Roman champion has won the victory by dispatching all three Albans himself, the two armies are described as burying their dead “with not at all the same spirits [nequaquam paribus animis], since one side has been enriched with authority [aucti imperio] and the other has lost its independence” (1.25.13). This description reflects the final exultation and despair that the two sides have respectively experienced as spectators and simultaneously shows that the larger purpose of the duel, the apportionment of imperium, has been accomplished. In other words, the duel has not just resolved the dispute in favor of the Romans; it has imposed a difference distinguishing them from the Albans.[54] Just as the champions were inspired by them, the spectators have been empowered by visual contact with their champions. This is revealed by the phrase aucti imperio used of the Romans. As we have seen, Wagenvoort interprets imperium as the strengthening force communicated by a leader to his troops,[55] and augeo is the proper verb for its transference.[56] As in the case of Torquatus and Corvus, so too the champions here become the means for a reciprocal exchange of imperium. The Horatii and Curiatii are summoned to fight by their commanders (1.24.2) and receive the encouragement of their respective armies (1.25.1); in return the sight of Horatius’s victory in combat has increased the imperium of his entire people.

III. The Death of Horatia

Livy’s description of the duel presents two diametrically opposed vantage points on the unfolding action, that of the victorious Romans who identify with the eventual killer of Curiatius and that of the Albans who identify with the victim. It is nationality alone that determines which of these irreconcilable perspectives each spectator adopts. There is obviously no question of a pro-Curiatius faction among the Roman troops. Thus the act of watching becomes a communal exercise that makes the experiences of all the spectators uniform, so that the entire nation responds as one individual, a unity that corresponds to the “wholeness” of the one man who represents them on the field. Not only does civic identity alone determine loyalty but it incorporates and harmonizes with the individual’s other motivations. When the last Horatius kills the Curiatii, he is both benefiting his patria and avenging his brothers; there is no distinction between what he owes the state and what he owes his family. The sequel to Horatius’s victory reverses all of these tendencies. Again, an alternative perspective on an act of violence is introduced, but no longer can the opposite viewpoint be relegated to those outside the patria. Moreover, this discrepancy in response results precisely from the spectator’s inability to adopt a national, as opposed to personal, perspective.

As Horatius enters the city bearing the triple spoils of the defeated Albans, his sister, who, we are now told, was betrothed to one of the Curiatii, begins to mourn and tear her hair. Her brother immediately kills her, with the cry, “Away to your betrothed with your untimely love, forgetful of your brothers living and dead, forgetful of your patria”(1.26.4). Livy’s narrative focuses the discrepancy between Horatia’s response and that of the “nation” on the interpretation of a visual sign. Horatius carries before him the weapons of the defeated triplets as spolia to commemorate his victory on behalf of the nation and thus to anchor his personal accomplishment in the history of the Roman people. Among the trophies is Curiatius’s paludamentum, a soldier’s cloak, which as a military garment was an appropriate spoil of victory. Horatia however recognizes the cloak as one that she, like a good Roman wife, has woven with her own hands.[57] As the public celebrates the victory of her brother, Horatia alone pronounces the name of Curiatius.[58]

Initially, the conflict between Horatius and Horatia seems based exclusively on an opposition between family and state, which in turn depends on gender difference: the woman views the event only in terms of family connections and personal affection, while the all-male army champions the national perspective. But the actions and attitudes of neither character allow themselves to be so neatly characterized. Horatius’s own act of killing his sister violates both the laws of the state and the structure of authority within the family: it is only the father who possesses the legal right of life and death over Horatia. Conversely, the exclamation with which Horatius accompanies his deadly blow refuses to cede the realm of the family to his sister. In killing the Curiatii, he was avenging his brothers, whereas Horatia is equally disloyal to family and state. Moreover, as Georges Dumézil points out, by casting Horatia’s behavior as shamelessness,[59] Horatius makes it the moral responsibility of the male members of the family to punish her, even if such behavior is technically illegal.[60]

Horatia’s rejection of her brothers out of loyalty to her future husband expresses a potential conflict for any Roman bride at the moment when she moves from the family of her brothers into the patria potestas of her father-in-law; in this respect too, her actions can be understood as illustrating tensions that lie exclusively within the family sphere.[61] Indeed, the very site of the murder bears an association with this critical moment in a girl’s life. The tigillum sororium, which according to Livy’s narrative will be established to commemorate Horatius’s purification after the murder of his sister, is actually named for the temple of Juno Sororia, whose cult title derives from the verb sororiare, used to describe the swelling of a girl’s breast at puberty.[62] And puberty for most Roman women coincided with marriage.

But just as both Horatia and her brother are impelled by their differing familial allegiances, so too at the national level the schism between them reflects not an opposition between “family” and “state” but an internal contradiction within the logic of patriotism itself. Although devotion to the patria must eventually take precedence over family loyalty, patriotism arises out of the very love of wives and children that it eventually supplants. So in the preface to Livy’s second book, he describes how the national unity of the Romans took time to develop, because it was only very gradually that a wandering people was sufficiently united by their affection for wives and children and love for the “place itself” (2.1.5).[63] A practical example of how such unity can be forged from family bonds emerged in Livy’s account of the famous rape of the Sabine women. In the midst of the Sabines’ retaliation, their daughters intercede on behalf of their new husbands, the Romans, and the two peoples merge rather than becoming enemies.[64] Horatia occupies exactly the same mediating position between the Romans and Albans. She thus represents those more intimate ties that engender patriotism and serves as a reminder of an alternative means of bringing about the unity of the two peoples, which in this case is implicitly rejected. Paradoxically her brother can only demonstrate his fully developed patriotism by killing her.[65]

By presenting the Curiatii as potentially linked to their rivals by ties of kinship, Horatia’s presence in the narrative challenges the radical differentiation between the Alban and Roman champions that was won by the duel. The Curiatii are no longer defined exclusively as “other,” foreign enemies, against whom violence is legitimate. Livy articulates this challenge by presenting it as an alternative spectacle, which “interferes” with the reception of Horatius’s victory both by contemporaries within the narrative and by his own audience. As Solodow has shown, the description of Horatius’s slaughter of his sister contains several echoes of his killing of the last Curiatius.[66] In neither case does the victim offer any resistance, and Horatius accompanies each killing with a pithy exclamation imposing a meaning on the death.[67] The verb used for the killing of Horatia, transfigit (1.26.3), is a cognate of defigit (1.25.12), which describes the death of Curiatius. References to Horatius’s ferocitas also draw together the two scenes.[68] The response of the Romans to the killing of Horatia explicitly juxtaposes the two actions. “The deed seemed appalling [atrox] to patricians and plebeians, but his honor, still fresh, blocked out the act” (sed recens meritum facto obstabat [1.26.5]). The word obstabat suggests that Horatius’s honor, on visual display in the form of the spolia he bears, literally obstructs the viewer’s contact with the scene of the murder. Horatius’s father will use precisely the same device to persuade the people to spare his son. He points to the visual signs of Horatius’s public victory the Pila Horatia,[69] and at the same time conjures up the image of his ovation, almost returning to the very instant before Horatia herself blocks (obvia [1.26.2]) her brother’s progress.[70] The same doubling of visual signs is preserved for posterity, not only by Livy’s narrative, but in the more tangible form of the sepulcra with which Livy ends each half of his account. The three sepulcra of the Curiatii remain on the battlefield on the Roman side “separated in space just as the battle was fought,” but there is also a tomb for Horatia, similarly placed at the spot where she fell, the Porta Capena, at the entrance to the city (1.26.14).

But what can such a careful articulation of opposite viewpoints tell us about the functioning of Livy’s text? Dumézil, who also argues that the killing of Horatia forms a necessary complement to the duel, finds analogues for such structural ambivalence about the warrior’s role in an array of myths from other Indo-European cultures. The god Indra, for example, in Indian myth establishes cosmic order by slaying the demon Vṛtra and a three-headed monster. However, Vṛtra and the monster are also Brahmans, and thus their persons are inviolate and Indra must be punished for Brahmanicide. In a similar way, Horatius becomes at once the savior of the state and a murderer.[71] Dumézil was interested in the myth itself and necessarily treats Livy’s narrative only as a means to its recovery. Solodow, who argues that the ambiguous treatment of the episode is unique to Livy and represents his individual development of the historical tradition, dismisses Dumézil’s analysis precisely for failing to take into account Livy’s originality. Here I want to suggest that the antitheses in Livy’s account of Horatius, whatever they may tell us about the historian’s personal views, correspond to a larger structure of oppositions in Roman religious institutions, one that can elucidate not the distant origins of the Horatius legend but the contemporary significance of Livy’s text.

Livy’s narrative itself offers a model for understanding its complexities. Between the speech of Mettius Fufetius and the beginning of the duel, there is a detailed description of the sacrifice that confirms the treaty between Romans and Albans (1.24.3–9). Far from being a mere antiquarian diversion, the account of the Fetial sacrifice sketches a set of relationships among its various participants that anticipates the tensions that will arise later in the episode.[72] Like the mythical narratives studied by Dumézil, sacrifice possesses an inherently contradictory structure, in the sense that it suspends its audience between an identification with the one who performs the sacrifice and with his victim. The establishment of a sacrificial paradigm behind the narrative also anchors Livy’s text to a central socio-religious institution that became a particular focus of interest in the Augustan period precisely because of its intrinsic, practical connections to the issues of unification and alienation.

Livy’s description of the treaty ritual by which the Albans and Romans bind themselves to honor the outcome of the duel is the fullest that survives for this procedure.[73] The ceremony begins with an elaborate dialogue in which the Fetial priest first asks the king for authority to strike the treaty. When the king grants it, the Fetial then demands the sagmina, a sacred piece of sod kept on the Capitoline. After another affirmative response, the priest asks to be made a messenger of the Roman people. The king approves, and the priest touches the head and hair of a certain Sp. Fusius with the sacred sod, making him pater patratus, the man who will actually perform the sacrifice and proclaim the treaty. The pater patratus recites the terms and then “strikes” the treaty by sacrificing a pig with a prayer to Jupiter to strike the Roman people, should they ever violate their promise, just as he strikes the pig.[74]

The first parts of the ceremony emphasize the hierarchical transference of authority from the king to his individual executor. The language of request and command (repeated archaic imperatives, posco, iubeo) punctuates the king’s empowerment of the pater patratus. Correspondingly, the gesture of touching the pater patratus with the sagmina literally places him in contact with a piece of living earth that has been ritually transferred from the highest, most sacred, and militarily most powerful point in the city.[75] At the same time that these rituals set the bearers of power apart from the other members of the community, they also enable them to act as representatives of the entire Roman people. The king himself first demonstrates his ability to speak on behalf of the populus Romanus in his prayer that his action be accomplished “without fraud on my part or on that of the Roman people” (quod sine fraude mea populique Romani Quiritium fiat [1.24.5]). This is spoken in response to the Fetial’s own request that he himself be made a “royal messenger of the Roman people” (regius nuntius populi Romani) and his companions “vessels” (vasa [1.24.5]). The pater patratus in turn speaks on behalf of the entire people in agreeing to the treaty. The sacrifice of the pig represents the culmination of the unification of the power of the Roman people in the pater patratus; not only is he able to speak for the entire people, he enables them to strike with one hand.

But the violence effected by its representative is simultaneously reflected back on the community. If the Romans should ever violate the treaty, the striking of the pig, accomplished through their own surrogate, will become the fate of the people as a whole. Hence for the treaty to be effective, it is necessary for the Roman audience to identify not only with their representative, the pater patratus, but also with the victim; they must be able to visualize his death as their own. Both priest and victim are therefore marked out as surrogates for the community of spectators.

This doubling of the surrogates, made explicit in a treaty sacrifice where the spectators are compelled to see the victim’s death as their own, is by no means anomalous. Other sacrificial practices also establish a ritual link between sacrificer and victim that sets them apart from the other participants. Both were differentiated by their costume and adornments, the priest with his veiled head, and religious insignia, the victim adorned with fillets and garlands. In particular, the red color frequently worn by priests provided a visual link with the blood of the victim.[76] Moreover, both priest and victim were required to possess certain attributes of the god to whom the sacrifice was offered.[77] A final point of resemblance, which has particular relevance for Livy’s text, is the purity required of both priest and victims.[78] The victim was not only to be free from all blemishes but never to have drawn the plow; priests had to wash their hands ritually and could not participate in sacrifices if there had been a death in the family.

A glance back from the account of the treaty ritual to the larger narrative of the duel in which it is embedded reveals similarities in both function and procedure that suggest that the Fetial sacrifice can be taken as the complement or even the template for the workings of the duel. Not only is the treaty ritual instrumental in fulfilling Mettius Fufetius’s goal of containing violence by compelling the Romans to abide by the outcome of the battle of surrogates, but the sacrifice itself operates by channeling violence, which is conceptually projected against the whole people, onto just one victim. “Strike the Roman people,” the pater patratus asks Jupiter, “just as I strike this pig.” Correspondingly, as the duel itself approaches its decisive moment, images of sacrifice supplant those of combat. If Livy’s goal had been simply to provide a gripping military narrative, we might have predicted that the battle with the last Alban would be the most closely fought of all. But Livy defuses any such expectations by making the outcome a fait accompli; indeed, he removes all possibility of viewing the final encounter as a military event with the explicit statement that it was “not a battle.”[79] Rather than submerging Curiatius’s death in the suspense of a duel, with the audience wondering which of the two will prevail, Livy isolates and focuses attention on the act of killing itself. Moreover, the gesture of preceding the final blow with a speech recalls the action of the pater patratus, who makes his prayer at the precise moment before he slays the victim.[80] And when Horatius speaks of “giving” (dedi, dabo) the Albans either to the souls of his brothers or for the victory of the Romans, he is using the language of a sacrificial offering.

The Horatii, appointed to use force against the enemy on behalf of the state or conversely to be killed as substitutes for the entire army, bring together in their own persons the roles of pater patratus and sacrificial victim. Like that of the pater patratus, their designation as champions takes place through the intervention of the king.[81] But the triplets also possess the most crucial characteristic of the sacrificial victim; they consent to meet death of their own free will.[82] Finally, this pattern of resemblances also offers a new significance for Livy’s emphasis on the whole (integer [1.25.7]) and untouched (intactus [1.25.11]) condition of the last Horatius.[83] This freedom from blemish approximates both the ritual purity of the presiding priest at a sacrifice and the perfection of the sacrificial victim himself, whose health and suitability are tested before the ceremony begins.[84]

The progress of the narrative from Fetial ritual, to duel, to murder, and finally to punishment, builds upon the essential incompleteness and instability of any sacrificial act. Each act of violence both unites and divides the communities, both controls and perpetuates violence. Thus we see the duel from the perspective of Romans and Albans, and even the unity of the Roman “point of view” breaks down when Horatia refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Curiatius as a victim. The ambiguity is only reduplicated when the conqueror of the Albans now slays a victim who is indisputably a member of the community, thereby superimposing an improper “sacrifice” upon the image of his victory. This imbalance can only be corrected by yet another use of controlled violence, which inevitably reproduces the same tensions. The king, to whom Horatius is brought for trial (1.26.5), correspondingly acts in a way that both emphasizes scrupulous adherence to established procedures and defers responsibility for the death of Horatius. In accordance with an ancient law, which Livy quotes, duumviri are appointed to pass judgment on Horatius.[85] Thus, just as in the treaty sacrifice that preceded the duel, the king’s role in the proceedings is only to empower agents, not to act himself. The reason Livy gives for the appointment of duumvirs is itself instructive; Tullus wishes to avoid being the source (auctor) of a judgment that will be displeasing to the crowd—in other words, to avoid being perceived as the killer of someone with whom the crowd identifies.

After having appeared as the champion who strikes down the Curiatii on behalf of the Roman people, and then as an “impure sacrificer,” Horatius by the sentence of the duumvirs is made a victim.[86] An appeal to the people (provocatio) and a moving entreaty by his father avert his actual death. However, this entreaty gains its effect by essentially enacting the spectacle of Horatius’s execution. After legitimizing the death of Horatia, and pointing to the spoils won by his son as victorious surrogate for the patria, the elder Horatius then constructs a scene of execution, in which his son can only be an object of sympathy. “Go lictor bind the hands that, once armed, bore imperium for the Roman people. Go veil the head of the liberator of this city” (1.26.11). This attention to the various parts of Horatius’s body, following the formula of the sentence of execution, constitutes a kind of dismemberment of the individual whose “integrity” was the key to the nation’s triumph. Correspondingly, Horatius also defines the audience who watch the dismemberment of the victim by calling it “a spectacle too hideous for even Alban eyes to bear.” Thus again the spectacle of the execution is imagined as an inversion of the triumphant duel. Romans watching the execution of Horatius would be adopting the perspective of Albans.

In his defense, Horatius’s father also restores the balance between state and family by reconstructing the patriotic argument that the state holds the family and individual in a protective embrace. He complements the display of his son’s victory spoils by putting his arms around him, and by making the famous appeal to sympathy for a father’s love so well known in later judicial practice.[87] The people’s acceptance of the elder Horatius’s plea for the larger entity to protect the smaller therefore reverses the political implications of the killing of Horatia. Here the state acts to preserve the individual on behalf of the family; there the individual had been killed on behalf of the state precisely for upholding the perspective of family. At the same time that the elder Horatius’s speech thus reconciles family and national perspectives, he simultaneously reestablishes the autonomy of the family within the state and the father’s authority within the family, which had also been overturned by his son’s unjustified killing of his sister, by granting that act a retroactive legitimacy. Horatius begins by claiming that he judges (iudicare) that his daughter was killed justly (iure); if this were not so, he would have exercised his prerogative as father (patrio iure) by punishing his son (1.26.9).

But even the sparing of Horatius offers no resolution; a further human death is avoided but the caedes manifesta of Horatia still requires expiation. Father and son are ordered to perform sacrifices to expiate the crime, and these sacrifices have been undertaken from then on by the Horatian gens. Each “sacrificial” act described in the text has been subject to infinite revision, as the perspective oscillates constantly between slayer and victim, and has consequently provoked another act of violence as a response. The institution of an expiatory ritual undertaken by the Horatii both perpetuates and regulates this sacrificial chain by providing for an infinite series of repetitions that bridges the gap between the past and the present, as well as between the historical text and the world of actual ritual practice. Moreover, these ritual enactments are explicitly and recognizably sacrifices in a way that, other than the Fetial treaty, the historical events are not. In the latter case, actual human deaths were related in a manner that recapitulated and emphasized the dynamics of sacrifice; in the former, the level of violence is reduced by the substitution of animal victims for humans. Thus the narrative moves from the ritual of the Fetial sacrifice, which provides the interpretative model for the scenes that follow, to real and unmediated violence, and finally back again to the ritual in which these historical events can be continually reenacted.

The simultaneous conversion of ritual into history and of history into ritual invites us to reevaluate the moral and social function of Livy’s narrative. Any attempt to distinguish between “good” and “bad” violence or to distill the moral of moderation from the episode’s complexity misses the point that Horatius’s killing of his sister is less a counterweight to his victory than a revision or repetition of it, which emerges as an inseparable aspect of the same act.[88] The alternate perspectives articulated in the episode are not just difficult to resolve but intrinsically unresolvable. Nor does the audience in the text really attempt to resolve them; rather their gaze shifts between the two equally compelling but irreconcilable images of Horatius’s victory and his crime. But the text’s allusions to sacrificial ritual, by moving us beyond the purely literary plane, offer a framework for interpreting these oppositions that does not allow them to congeal into mere ambiguity. As discussed further in the next section, such tensions are an intrinsic part of the structure and syntax of sacrificial ritual. And far from preventing sacrifice from fulfilling its social function, the juxtaposition of irreconcilable perspectives lies at the heart of its unifying power. Livy’s technique of articulating these oppositions through the perspectives of actual spectators thus approximates for his audience the effect of being present at the sacrificial procedures prescribed by the people, which at once absolve Horatius from guilt and perpetuate the memory of his crime.[89]

These sacrifices still took place into the Augustan era. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in concluding his narrative of Horatius, tells us that the Romans regarded the place where the expiation took place as sacred, and that sacrifices were still performed there (Ant. Rom. 3.22.8). What is more, the ritual complex surrounding the tigillum sororium addresses the same range of social issues as Livy’s narrative of the Horatii: the distinctions between insider and outsider, gender divisions, and the tensions involved in the integration of the individual into the citizen body. For, although the Horatian aition of the ritual necessarily portrays its function as primarily expiatory, the monument of the tigillum sororium also possessed associations with rites of passage.[90] The beam was surrounded on one side by the altar of Juno Sororia, whose cult title suggests a link with a girl’s entry into adulthood, and on the other by the altar of Janus Curiatius. Janus’s double aspect made him particularly a god of endings and beginnings, and the cult of Janus Curiatius has been connected with a boy’s admission into a curia, one of the political subdivisions of the citizen body.[91] Not only does passing under the beam literally constitute an entry into the city, but it also symbolizes the moment when an individual ceases to exist solely as a member of the family and becomes a member of the state. Thus, like the lustratio with which we began, this ritual too unites the consolidation of membership in a community with the establishment of a spatial boundary.[92]

IV. Sacrifice and Perspective

The initiatory aspect of Horatius’s purification ritual takes us back to the larger issues of the entire Alban episode, the movement of the individual toward full participation in a community of citizens. The decision to represent this process through the recreation of sacrificial ritual was not an isolated or arbitrary choice on Livy’s part. The very mechanisms of sacrifice, as Livy outlines them in his description of the Fetial ritual, inherently rely on the interaction between a larger group and an individual actor, whom we have seen paired with the sacrificial victim. Moreover the complexities in attitude and perspective that this double focus raises for the participants essentially reproduce the “patriotic paradox” discussed at the beginning of the chapter. On the one hand, the onlooker can respect the priest’s claim to represent the community as a whole and identify with the exactor of violence. The adoption of this perspective not only implies that the spectator defines himself as a member of the group that authorizes and benefits from the killing, but also introduces a seamless model of alignment between the individual priest and the larger community, in the sense that he is recognized as a symbolic agent of the whole. But this unification is bought at the expense of the death of the single victim, with whom the spectator is also asked to identify. Thus the alternative possibility exists of seeing the individual not as the one who manifests collective power of the community but as its victim.

The inherently paradoxical nature of sacrifice is a fundamental tenet of the theories of René Girard.[93] In Girard’s view, sacrifice is primarily a social, rather than a religious, phenomenon. It arises out of a need to control violence rather than to communicate with supernatural forces.[94] The processes of imitative desire constantly force the members of any society into competitions that tend toward violence. Since every act of violence generates an urge for retribution, without some check the accelerating cycle of violence would quickly destroy a society. Sacrifice short-circuits this cycle by directing all the violent impulses of the community against a single individual, whom Girard calls the surrogate victim.[95] The actual sacrificial victim in turn substitutes for the surrogate victim,[96] whose killing could result in the spread of violence through attempts at revenge. This sacrificial victim must be sufficiently similar to members of the community for the violence perpetrated upon him to be satisfying;[97] at the same time, he must be from outside the community, so that his death will not provoke retribution. The nightmare vision for any society, called the sacrificial crisis, is indiscriminate killing, which comes into being when there are no internal distinctions to direct the flow of violence.[98] This crisis is resolved through the reunification of the community by finding one victim against whom it can inflict violence unanimously. Thus sacrifice constitutes a kind of “good violence,” which must be radically distinguished from the uncontrollable violence that it so closely resembles.

Girard’s discussion of the social function of sacrifice touches upon Livy’s account of the fall of Alba at several points. The initial relationship between the Albans and Romans could well be described as Girard’s “mimetic rivalry.” As we have seen, Livy emphasizes that for both sides, the desire for imperium precedes any cause of war.[99] And it is precisely to prevent this mutual desire from resolving itself through indiscriminate slaughter, in a war that, as Livy points out, would be most like a civil war, that Mettius Fufetius proposes the duel, which is in turn ratified by the treaty sacrifice. With Horatius’s murder of his sister, the violence previously exercised against a “legitimate” victim bursts its bounds. The very similarity between the two actions threatens to undermine any possibility of distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate killing. Again, sacrifice ritual is explicitly employed to restore this distinction (by not tolerating a caedes manifesta) while avoiding a further divisive death. Although the crisis Livy initially describes is an international as opposed to an internal one, the “otherness” of the Albans is highly problematic, and the ultimate result of the events described is the incorporation of the Albans into one Roman society. The ambiguous status of the Albans as both insiders and outsiders exactly recalls the position of any sacrificial participant, caught between his ties to the society that enacts the violence and his sympathy for the outsider who is its victim. And we shall see that it is as spectators at an act of violence that the Albans experience their final absorption into the imperium of the Romans.

In spite of the inherent doubleness of every aspect of the account of Horatius and the Albans, the sacrificial process in this case may be termed successful in the sense that the final union of the two peoples eventually takes place, and the tensions arising from each act of violence are ultimately controlled through displacement into ritual. But another episode in Livy shows an attempt to use violence for similar ends that fails on both counts. This rite is performed by Rome’s enemies the Samnites and appears in the context of Livy’s account of the battle of Aquilonia, where, as we have already discussed, the Samnites’ failure to create a unified military force serves as a foil to the efficacy of the Romans’ pre-battle spectacles. In the Samnite procedure, the ritual performance does not prevent the death of a human victim but actually precipitates it, and the result of the spectacle is only to fragment the unity of the participants. What is particularly interesting about Livy’s account of this episode is that the failure to maintain ritual propriety in this case manifests itself as a transformation of the perspective from which the spectator views the sacrifice.

Before the battle of Aquilonia, the Samnites prepare a special force that will not yield to the enemies’ attack but will fight, if necessary, to the last man (10.38.5ff.). An open space in the middle of the camp is enclosed by a linen barrier. After the Samnite leader and priests perform an ancient sacrifice, the best warriors are individually led into the enclosure. Here they are forced to swear an oath cursing themselves and their families if they should either flee from battle or refrain from killing anyone whom they see fleeing. Those who refuse to swear are killed immediately, providing a further incentive for the next subject to take the oath. After this process a legion, made conspicuous by special insignia, is constituted from the survivors.

The central passage is the description of the oath taking:

When the sacrifice was completed, the imperator ordered that all those most renowned for their deeds and ancestry to be summoned by a herald; they were led in one by one. Beyond the other trappings of sacrifice, which might throw the spirit into confusion with superstition, there were also altars in an area covered all around and victims slaughtered thereabout and centurions surrounding with drawn swords. Each is brought to the altar more as a victim than a participant in the sacrifice and is compelled by oath not to reveal what he has seen and heard there. They force him to swear with a grim incantation calling down destruction on his head and family and clan if he does not go into battle where the commanders lead, and if he either flees from the battle line himself or fails to kill forthwith anyone he sees fleeing. Some of the first who had refused to swear were butchered around the altars, and lying amid the carnage of the victims they served as warning to the others not to refuse.[100]

Even more explicitly than in the earlier episode, Livy portrays this ritual as an initiatory act designed to generate communal bonds; the process of viewing the sacrifice leads directly to the formation of a new group. But here all of the principles and procedures that give sacrifice its efficacy are reversed and overturned. The Fetial sacrifice required that the participant be able to imagine the victim’s death as the punishment of a prospective treaty breaker. But that possibility was juxtaposed with an identification with the sacrificer himself who spoke and acted for all the participants. Here that balance is thrown off as the individual’s ability to imagine himself as victim outweighs his sense of being a participant. He is threatened with his own death at the altar if he fails to swear the oath. The mitigating substitution of an animal victim for a human is also eliminated, and the mingling of animal and human corpses around the altar forms the final shocking element of Livy’s description.[101] For Girard, the failure to maintain sacrificial distinctions between victim and participant led to the disintegration of the community into mutual violence. And indeed the legion constituted by the survivors of the initiation breaks apart out of mutual suspicion as each member “has before his eyes…the mixed slaughter of men and beasts and the altars splattered with blood pure and impure.”[102]

But the most powerful expression of the reversal of proper sacrificial practice comes through Livy’s emphasis on perspective and visual contact. From the beginning, the sight of the scene does not augment the animus of the viewer, as did the victory of Horatius, but throws it into confusion (perfundere [10.38.8]). The spectator, as he is led to the altar, is literally put in the place of the victim. And Livy’s own description, which follows the initiate’s gaze, recreates this perspective, focusing on the moment when the transition from participant to victim takes place. Thus the single sentence that describes the scene within the tent ends with the centurions “standing on both sides with drawn swords.” The position of the centurions and the part they play in the proceedings is initially ambiguous. They could be sacrificers whose swords are drawn against the victim; they could also be other oath takers, since, as we shall see, the gesture of holding out a drawn sword sometimes accompanies the swearing of an oath.[103] But the participle circumstantes, “standing on both sides” or “surrounding,” has no expressed object; thus the final possibility, which will in fact be born out, is that the centurions surround not just the altar but the initiate himself, and their swords are drawn against him.

The shift from participant to victim is also correlated with the initiate’s progress toward the center of the linen enclosure that encompasses the altar. In the other accounts of spectacles that have been discussed, all of the spectators looked on together, and indeed this common gaze, particularly for the armies watching the duel of the Horatii, formed the basis of the new community. But here the individual, far from sharing the experience with his fellows, is shut off from them both by the linen barrier and by the pledge of secrecy. This physical separateness embodies the increasing social isolation that comes with the initiate’s sense of being the object of collective violence. In a lustratio, the victims are led around the boundaries of the community, inscribing its members within a magic circle. But in this case, it is the victims who are at the center, and the initiate’s motion inward traces the contraction of the group to which he belongs. The oath he swears, which is itself an instrument of further isolation, calls down destruction upon his head, his family, and his clan if he breaks it, thus demarcating the smaller groups from the state on whose behalf the oath is taken, just as it makes the swearer both the agent and the victim of internally directed violence.

A set of coins minted by the Italian rebels during the Social War depicts a scene almost identical to the sight that confronts the initiate in Livy’s account of the Samnite oath.[104] Four men with drawn swords stand on either side of a sacrificial victim. Since the center of the rebellion lay among the Oscan speakers of the Apennines, it is quite plausible that the procedure shown on the coin is in fact analogous to that in book 10. But the significance of the image is radically different in the two representations. The Italian coins are undoubtedly emblems of unity, designed to reinforce solidarity among the peoples allied against Rome. The gesture of the drawn swords marks the soldiers as oath takers in a manner that relates their bond explicitly to sacrificial practice. The swords all point at the victim, making the soldiers all participate symbolically in the act of killing. This shared killing recapitulates the overall function of the oath itself, to forge the participants into a unified force capable of acting effectively against an outsider. The same intent also lay behind the Samnite ritual, but there the result was precisely the opposite, fragmentation and defeat.

The similarity of the two scenes also allows us to pinpoint the role of visual perspective in determining which of these radically different outcomes the experience of sacrifice will yield. In Livy, as we have seen, the tableau of the armed centurions around the victim is initially ambiguous, combining the possibilities of danger and comradeship. The crucial moment comes when the individual initiate is brought to the altar, for in this case the oath is taken not collectively but individually, and the oath taker affirms his pledge from the position of the sacrificial victim—literally, at the point of the swords. The viewer of the coin can experience no such transformation in perspective; anchored on the perimeter, he watches events from the position of the members of the groups who are bound by the oath.

Such collective oaths were not unknown in Rome itself. Livy tells us that prior to 216 B.C.E., troops from Rome’s allies bound themselves by a “voluntary treaty” (22.38.1–5). (The term for treaty is foedus, which was also used for the international treaty confirmed by sacrifice between the Romans and Albans.)[105] Not only does the voluntary nature of this foedus contrast with the compulsion used by the Samnites, but the actual words of the oath, which Livy also records, differ from the content of the Samnite oath in a manner that corresponds to the inversion of the oath taker’s perspective. The Samnite oath both invokes destruction on the family and person of anyone who reveals it and obliges each soldier to kill his fellows if he sees them deserting. The result, as we have seen, is that each soldier imagines his comrades as his prospective killers, and at the crucial moment this internal fear proves stronger than fear of the enemy.[106] It is the last clause that the coniuratio oath reverses by compelling the soldiers “not to depart for the sake of flight or fear nor to retreat from the ranks except to take or seek a weapon or to strike an enemy or to save a citizen.”[107] Here not only is each soldier made his fellow’s savior, but the preservation of the life of the individual is given a higher priority even than the unity of the group.

These contrasting treatments of the oath-taking ceremony demonstrate how a single, simple image can contain a vast potential for either building a society or destroying it. In sacrifice, the violence that unites the group always threatens to break free of the restraints of ritual. The closer the rite approximates disaster, the more powerful is its effect. Moreover, the essential ambiguity of sacrificial ritual relates to two interdependent issues of the utmost importance in Augustan Rome; violence and the integration of the community. The fifty years of civil war that produced the Augustan state could be looked upon as a terrible but finite process whose end was Tota Italia, a new unity whose collective might would manifest itself in the conquest of foreign peoples, or else as the ultimate disintegration of that society at every level, an unending sequence of violence that divided families and cities and demanded the renunciation of home, friends, and even children in the service of an ever-shifting patria.[108]

The power of sacrifice to embody both of these visions of violence has to do with the multiplicity and pervasiveness of sacrificial imagery in Augustan literature, ritual, and art. In its positive aspect, sacrifice seems to promise the possibility of controlled violence directed outward and the clear definition of friend and enemy. Thus, for example, on the day Augustus entered Rome after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, the entire populace offered sacrifice.[109] Extravagant sacrifices followed other foreign victories as well, culminating perhaps in the consecration of the Ara Pacis in 13 B.C.E., at which the establishment of peace would be celebrated annually.[110] The suppression of internal threats, such as those of Cornelius Gallus,[111] Murena, and Caepio also prompted sacrifices.[112] Augustus himself became the center of the sacrificial spectacle in the Secular Games of 17 B.C.E. This three-day ceremony began with the princeps sacrificing nine ewes to the fates on behalf of the Roman people. Thereafter every day’s program commenced with Augustus and Agrippa presiding over sacrifices to Jupiter, Juno, and the children of Leto respectively.[113]

Nor did this interest in sacrifice manifest itself only in actual ritual practices. Artistic representations of Augustus in a variety of media from statues to coins increasingly depicted the emperor at the center of religious ceremonies, particularly as sacrificant.[114] As Elsner has recently demonstrated in his interpretation of the Ara Pacis, perhaps the culmination of this pattern of imagery, such representations, far from simply denoting the abstract pietas of the emperor, served to recreate and reproduce the sacrificial experience, placing the viewer in the place of participant and making the emperor the focal point of the event.[115] What is more, the diffusion of these images in Italy and the provinces provided a prototype for religious activity throughout the empire and helped create a network of cult practices grounded in the authority of Rome and of the princeps himself.[116]

But just as beneficial sacrifice confirmed the restoration of peace and harmony, the image of the corrupted sacrifice, where the boundaries that prevented excessive identification with the victim were violated, had an equal importance in the delineation of public enemies who threatened the social order. Catiline, for example, was accused of using human blood in the confirmation of an oath. There is a story that in 46 B.C.E., Caesar checked the excesses of his troops by having several soldiers sacrificed on the Campus Martius in the presence of the pontifices and the priest of Mars.[117] Presumably, as Pontifex Maximus, he presided over the sacrifice. Similarly, Sextus Pompey’s close identification with Neptune was turned against him in a report that, dressed in a ceremonial blue robe, he had had men cast alive into the sea.[118]

The story of Octavian’s bloodthirsty revenge on the rebels led by L. Antonius at Perusia offers the most interesting demonstration of the political potency of sacrificial imagery during the civil wars. The so-called Arae Perusinae are among the most shocking crimes attributed to the young triumvir: “Lucius himself and some others were pardoned, but most of the senators and knights were killed. There is a story that they did not simply suffer death but that after having been tormented, three hundred knights and many senators…were sacrificed on an altar consecrated to Julius Caesar.”[119] Clearly, the sacrificial setting of these executions springs from anti-Octavian propaganda,[120] and the emphasis on the rank of the victims, which also appears in Suetonius’s version of the episode, reveals the audience toward which this fearsome picture was directed: senators and knights would here see themselves specifically selected as victims in an alien, and distinctly dynastic, sacrificial ritual presided over by the triumvir. However, the pro-Augustan version of the resolution of the Perusine conflict, which possibly derives from the emperor’s own memoirs,[121] counters this image with another scene of sacrifice, again presided over by Octavian. While Octavian is offering sacrifice, the repentant Antonius approaches with his men:

[The rebel troops] saluted Caesar as imperator and stood separately where Caesar had placed them.…When he had finished the sacrifice, crowned in laurel, the symbol of victory, he sat before the tribunal and ordered them to lay down their arms where they stood. He then ordered the veterans [among the rebels] to draw near, apparently to reproach them for their ingratitude and to frighten them. It was already known that he was going to do this, and Caesar’s troops, either on purpose…or moved by their suffering, as if on behalf of their own relatives, breaking from their assigned position, ran towards Lucius’s men and embraced them as fellow soldiers. And they wept and entreated Caesar on behalf [of the rebels], and they did not stop weeping and embracing, with even the new recruits sharing in the sentiment. No longer was it possible to tell the troops apart nor to distinguish them.[122]

Here sacrifice serves not to demonstrate Octavian’s barbarousness and implacability but as the locus for political reunification. The terror of Octavian generated in tales of the Arae Perusina by depicting him as sacrificer and the rebels as victims, appears only to be assuaged by a greater sense of community, as the rebels, first kept at a distance, find themselves integrated into the body of participants. The sight of the imperator sacrificing melts away all difference, as we shall see that it is meant to do between Albans and Romans.

V. Sacrifice and Imperium

The emphasis on the social and political aspects of religious ritual that emerged in the preceding section will be recognizable to the student of Roman religion. Not only has the manipulation of religious practice for narrowly political ends been long studied, but on a much broader level the communal nature of so much of ancient religious practice has all but eroded the distinction between our categories of the civic and the religious.[123] Nor were the Romans themselves oblivious to the “social” importance of religion as a means of building ties within a community. For Cicero, shared sacra constituted one of the ties that bind an individual to his natural patria.[124]

Within Livy’s own text, the most explicit description of the use of religious ritual to maintain the social order of the Roman state occurs just a few pages before the events that we have been describing, in the account of Numa Pompilius’s religious reforms discussed in chapter 2: after peace has been obtained with all the neighboring peoples, “lest the spirits [of the Romans], which the fear of the enemy and military discipline had held in check, grow soft in peace, first of all—a thing most effective for an inexperienced and, in those ages, unsophisticated people—he thought that fear of the gods must be cast upon them.”[125] The terms used here provide a link between the rituals staged under Numa’s successor and the social ills that Livy himself treats. The metus deorum appears as an equivalent to military discipline; both the Fetial sacrifice and the subsequent execution of the Alban dictator Mettius Fufetius, like the failed Samnite ritual of book 10, take place on the battlefield and enforce a sense of collective identity, which can be measured in adherence to military discipline.[126] At the same time, the specific problems that Numa addresses, luxuria and the debilitating effects of otium, are emphatically not those of the “rude and inexperienced” Romans of regal times but the preoccupations of the first century B.C.E. The discussion of the social utility of religious ritual thus occurs in a context where not only is the distinction between past and present deliberately blurred, but, as we saw in chapter 2, the activities of the king and the historian come to resemble one another. Indeed, the king employs religious ritual to perform precisely the same social function that he shares with the historian, to combat the effects of luxuria. This suggests that the reconstruction of sacrificial spectacle can be taken as one of the most important means by which the historian’s text directly assumes a political, state-building function.

Beyond its reminiscences of Numa’s procedure, Livy’s adoption of the sacrificial paradigm for staging the unification of the Albans and the Romans also means that he is communicating in the same medium of religious ritual that Augustus himself, who also appears in the earlier passage as an imitator of Numa, used to accomplish the restoration of the state. But how far is it justifiable to think that a literary text could operate on its readers in a manner resembling the way an actual sacrifice affected its participants? Obviously, Livy cannot distribute the sacrificial meats among his audience. Nor will he, like Augustus on the Ara Pacis, make himself the center of his audience’s attention as the focal point of the sacrificial experience. But visual contact, which has emerged as both a powerful medium for linking the participant to the event and a means of negotiating the antithetical potentials of sacrifice, can be reproduced for the audience of a literary text. If this reproduction achieves less vividness than in the visual arts, not to speak of the unmediated experience of sacrifice itself, perhaps it possesses greater precision since the attentions of the writer’s audience can be more strictly controlled.[127]

The overlap between the roles of king and historian suggested in Livy’s account of Numa reappears at one of the crucial moments in the process of incorporating the Albans, the execution of Mettius Fufetius. In spite of his pledge to abide by the outcome of the duel and place the Albans under the imperium of Rome, Mettius treacherously withdraws the Alban forces in the first battle in which he is asked for assistance and only rejoins the Romans when they are clearly victorious (1.27). Tullus punishes this betrayal by having the Alban leader tied to two chariots and torn apart (1.28). The scene in which this punishment takes place recapitulates many of the themes and tensions of the entire episode, from the initial deception of the Alban ambassadors to the deferred execution of Horatius, and offers an explicit, if complex, commentary on the educational functions of the historian and the civic leader.

The Albans’ denial of the reality of Rome’s imperium is bound up with their attitude to the role of the spectator; it was after all through the process of spectacle that this imperium was first established over them, and it will be through yet another spectacle that it is confirmed. As we have seen, throughout their dealings with the Romans, the Albans have been constantly at a disadvantage because of their assumption that the spectator is passive and detached from the event he watches, and a corollary belief that spectacle itself consists simply of empty display. These conceptions determined both the negligence with which they conducted their initial embassy to the Romans (1.23.5ff.) and the proposal that the dispute with the Romans be decided by a duel. The strategy the Albans employ in betraying the Romans again highlights this attitude to spectacle. By withdrawing to watch the battle rather than actually fighting, the Alban army becomes “a spectator of the competition” (spectator certaminis [1.28.1])—a position analogous to the one adopted at the battle of the Horatii and Curiatii—again out of the belief that as spectators, they will be free from danger.

As in his treatment of the original embassy that came to demand the restoration of stolen property, so too in preparing for the final spectacle of Mettius’s execution, the Roman king tricks the treacherous Albans with an outward show of friendship. He addresses them in a kindly way and summons them the next morning to a “lustral sacrifice” (1.28.1). When invited to the assembly by Tullus Hostilius, the Albans are eager to attend and take up the nearest positions because they are struck by the “novelty of hearing a Roman king address an assembly” (1.28.2). But their enthusiasm for “sight-seeing” enables the Roman legion to surround them physically, a gesture that reinforces the point that the Albans are not disconnected from the events they are watching but are as much subject to Tullus’s authority as the Roman troops.[128] The physical incorporation of the Albans into the body of citizens is complemented by the sudden reversal of perspective experienced most completely by Mettius Fufetius himself, who thinks that he has come as a spectator but finds that his punishment is in fact the spectacle that the audience has assembled to watch.

The symbolic inclusion of the Albans within the Roman state serves as a visual sign of the real purpose of the ceremony the king has orchestrated, the final unification of Rome and Alba. “May it be good and blessed and fortunate for the Roman people and me and you, Albans; I intend to lead the whole Alban people to Rome, to give citizenship to the plebeians, to induct the nobles into the Senate, to make one city, one res publica; as once the Alban state was divided into two now let it recombine into one.”[129] The sacral resonance of the first phrase, which recalls the language used in the Fetial ritual, reminds us of the performative quality of the king’s utterance and of the ceremony as a whole. Tullus’s language does not just describe his intention but accomplishes it even as the Romans and Albans are literally being brought together; just as in the Fetial ritual, his statement is a manifestation of his imperium.

The statement that simultaneously unmasks the king’s purpose and expresses his power occurs at just the moment when the true nature of the spectacle itself has been revealed by the actions of the armed centurions who have surrounded Mettius Fufetius. And the sight of his execution will be the central means by which the king effects the unification of his audience. Tullus had described the event that the Albans were to attend as a sacrificium lustrale.[130] Not only does this expression establish the formal parallel between the execution and sacrifice; as Versnel has shown, the lustral sacrifice was, like all lustrationes, used precisely to establish a new unity among the group of participants.

The lustral sacrifice is but one of the ritual acts the execution recalls. The reason Tullus gives for killing Mettius is that he violated the foedus made with the Romans. The treaty ritual, as we recall, had invoked destruction on whoever failed to abide by it and thus predicts and determines the fate of the Alban. The language of the king duplicates the sacred expressions he used to empower the pater patratus, and other terms both in the king’s speech and the historian’s narrative allude to the earlier ceremony. When Tullus speaks of “trustworthiness and treaties” (fides ac foedera [1.28.9]), beyond the alliteration there is also a reference to one of the common etymologies of the word foedus, as a cognate to fides. Others thought that a foedus was so named because of the disgusting (foedus) ritual by which treaties were confirmed, and Livy makes that connection as well when he refers to the foeditas of Mettius’s end (1.28.11).[131] In addition to the verbal echoes, the visual tableau Livy constructs by having the centurions encompass their victim recalls precisely the depictions of foedera on coins.

In the Fetial ritual, the violence of the sacrifice was an expression of the collective power of the state channeled through the king and his representatives. The unifying aspect of the spectacle derives from the alignment of the group of participants against the outsider or victim at whom this collective power is directed. Thus although the word imperium was not explicitly used in the Fetial ritual, the ceremony enacts the transmission of imperium, and it is precisely the imperium of the Roman king over the Albans that the ceremony of the execution is designed to establish. The link between imperium and sacrifice emerges again in Appian’s account of the reconciliation of Octavian and the mutineers at Perusia. The situation is strikingly similar to the one Livy describes; again, the two armies are brought together by watching a sacrifice. Octavian has kept his veterans apart, and after the sacrifice they draw near the rebels as though to punish them; suddenly, however, they embrace one another and the end result is that “it became impossible to distinguish between them.”[132] Here the participation of the mutineers in the sacrifice over which Octavian presides is explicitly linked to their acceptance of his imperium. As they arrive, the troops proclaim Octavian imperator, and after the sacrifice he addresses them crowned with the laurel of victory.[133]

The execution of Mettius Fufetius also draws attention to the connection between the ritual performance of sacrifice and the presentation of a historical exemplum. In addition to pointing out the connections with the Fetial ritual and the general characterization of the execution as a sacrificium lustrale, Tullus emphasizes the educational function of his actions and expresses his consciousness of their historical significance by expanding the audience for his instruction from those immediately present to the entire “human race,” implicitly including any possible future violators. His punishment of Mettius is a “noteworthy demonstration” (insigne documentum [1.28.6]). Indeed, in its crudest form, the very manner in which the Alban is killed “illustrates” his crime: the division of his body manifests the earlier division of his spirit between the Romans and their enemies. In a larger sense his dismemberment emblematizes the division of loyalties experienced by all the Albans, who, as their king is dragged in diversum iter, are made “one” with the Romans. Later, Tullus says that he would apply his teaching to Mettius himself if his nature (ingenium) were not “incurable” (insanabile [1.28.9]). Both the references to documenta and the use of the metaphor of health replicate exactly the language in which Livy speaks of his own history in the preface. There, his text is made a source of documenta and as such is described as “healthful” (salubre). Not only do these echoes draw together the activities of king and historian, they also make clear the interdependence between sacrificial performance and historical instruction. The two aspects of Mettius’s death are made inseparable; his punishment (supplicium) is the means by which Mettius “teaches.”[134]

In all of the sacrificial spectacles we have examined, the socially beneficial aspects of the experience—here epitomized by the king’s interpretation of the execution as a moment of unification whose historical significance will be as a constant warning against betrayal—have been balanced by an opposing potential for social disintegration. As incipient Romans, the Albans must view Mettius as a foreign enemy and take part in his killing. So, too, in quelling a later mutiny, Scipio Africanus will require the mutineers to find the sight of their former commanders’ deaths a “joyous sight” (laetum spectaculum [28.29.8]).[135] But like the victim’s at the Fetial sacrifice, Mettius’s death serves as a warning of what might happen to any other potential traitor. In particular, it is as a representative of the Alban people that Mettius is punished; he is made to bear the responsibility for their crime. Thus the construction of the spectacle equally demands the audience’s identification with the victim. The emotion that enforces the Albans’ obedience is nothing other than the “fear” (metus) that results from such an identification. It was “fear of the gods” (metus deorum) that Numa had foreseen as the constraining power of religio, yet here, as in the response of the Samnites at Aquilonia, fear is directed against more immediate representatives of the state. Moreover, this emotion has a truly unifying effect in the sense that it is “common” to all and obliterates any individual variations in perspective or response.[136]

The double vision required of the Albans is made particularly acute because an execution dispenses with the prescriptions that an actual sacrifice employs to control violence and to diffuse its most threatening aspects. In the Fetial sacrifice, the audience was asked to identify only with the death of a pig, which, however dramatic, has far less immediacy than the death of another human being, much less one’s former imperator. The relation between sacrifice and execution here precisely reverses the resolution achieved in the trial of Horatius.[137] There, the establishment of a sacrificial ritual arose as an alternative to the death of a Horatius and as a means of controlling tensions that had led to murder. Here, the sacrifice of the pig is reenacted with a human victim. And just as the violence is no longer directed against an animal substitute, so too the role of surrogates in performing the killing is equally diminished. In the Fetial sacrifice, the victim was killed by a pater patratus appointed by the king, and the trial of Horatius was similarly conducted by surrogates, appointed precisely to protect the king from direct responsibility for the death of a man with whom the crowd sympathized. In the case of Mettius Fufetius, although Tullus does not drive the chariots himself, his role as the one who precipitates the execution is more immediately apparent.[138]

In Livy’s account of the execution, these irreconcilable tensions ultimately produce a divergence between the king and the historian as presenters of spectacle. Just at the moment when the chariots have been set into motion,[139] Livy ceases simply narrating the execution and intervenes in his own voice. “All turned their eyes away from such a terrible spectacle. That was the first and last punishment among the Romans of a model [exemplum] too little mindful of human laws; in other cases, the Romans can glory in the fact that no other race has decreed milder penalties” (1.28.11). The very statement that the onlookers turn their eyes away, as it breaks the contact between the spectator and the punishment, also releases Livy’s own audience from the necessity of “seeing” the culmination of the execution. At this point, Livy himself reverts to the language of the preface, and by doing so emerges as a rival to the king in offering educational spectacles. Not only does he use the term exemplum, but he shows an awareness of the entire scope of Roman history as well, by setting the execution within the much wider context of all other punishments. Like every other “sacrificial” event that forms a part of this episode, the execution generates two antithetical responses. In the case of Horatius’s trial, these responses were articulated as two alternative visual perspectives, one of which focused on Horatius’s decora, the other on that which was foedum or atrox.[140] Livy’s interruption of the spectacle of the execution introduces a comparable antithesis here. The historian takes control of the perspective of his audience, redirecting its gaze from the foeditas of Mettius’s death to a “glorious”[141] vision of Rome’s past, one where the conflict between the demands of national identity and of “human laws” disappears.

Throughout the many scenes constituting the complex narrative of the union of Rome and Alba, Livy stresses the parallelism between the rituals and spectacles that accomplish the transition in the civic identity of the Albans and his own literary representation of events. The ambiguous position of the Albans themselves as members of the Roman state and as outsiders both mirrors the divergent possibilities of alienation and solidarity faced by any participant in the rituals by which citizenship and group membership were confirmed, and speaks to the crises in civic identity brought about by the transformations of Livy’s own era. When Tullus Hostilius claims that by bringing together Alba and Rome, he is in fact reunifying what had been in the past one city, the Albans find not only their state absorbed by Rome but their history as well. Rome’s past now encompasses Alba’s, just as Rome’s centurions surround her soldiers. This suggests a final point of resemblance between the experience of the Albans and Livy’s audience. The Albans attempt to watch the events staged for them by Tullus Hostilius with detachment and separation, but they constantly discover that they are profoundly affected by them, and it is this that prompts their becoming members of the Roman state. In the same way, Livy holds out the promise of detachment to his own audience as they read these episodes. Speaking against those who may feel little appetite for the events of the distant past, he claims that he personally “shall seek this reward for my labor, that I may avert my [eyes] from the sight of those evils that our age has seen through so many years” (praef. 5). The past seems to offer an alternative object of vision, which enables the historian to turn his eyes away from the present just as the Albans turn their eyes away from the execution of Mettius Fufetius. But, as we have seen, Livy uses the account even of the earliest times as a means not just of describing but of remedying the mala of the present. And Livy’s audience will find that they are no more detached from the historical monumenta that Livy presents than the Albans are from the spectacles of Tullus Hostilius. In adopting Rome’s past as their own, they will experience the same transition implied by the historian’s own choice of Aeneas over Antenor at the inception of his narrative.


1. For the connection between Livy’s own origins and the origins of his narrative, see esp. Bonjour 1975b: 96 and 248 ff. [BACK]

2. For a discussion of how Livy in these sentences draws attention to the difficulties of creating and interpreting a historical narrative through the interplay between direct and indirect statement, see now Miles 1995: 20–31. The parallel between the complexity of the narrative and of the events it describes, revealed most significantly at 1.1.6, where the report or fama Livy confronts itself becomes “twofold” (duplex), suggests a further similarity between the actual process of founding Rome, which itself necessitates wanderings and doublings of identity (Trojan, Aboriginal, Latin, Enetian), and the construction of a unified history out of the maze of stories these wanderings have produced. For more on the “overlap of text and subject” in Livy’s narrative, see Kraus 1994b: 269 f. [BACK]

3. See Brunt 1971: 13–14, for the statistical evidence. The census figure for 28 B.C.E. is given in Res gestae 8.2 as over four million, which Brunt assumes is only conceivable if it includes women and children. [BACK]

4. On the vast problems of citizenship, see the standard treatment by Sherwin-White 1973 and particularly Nicolet 1980: 21–23. The meaning and derivation of civis is discussed by Benveniste 1969: 1.335–37. [BACK]

5. For three very different introductions to the processes by which Augustus himself fosters the construction of an inclusive national identity, see Syme 1939: 440–58; Eder 1990, esp. 118 ff.; and, regarding the sphere of religious activity, Gordon 1990. [BACK]

6. For Roman anxieties about the dangers of pleasure for the state as a whole and the antithesis between indulgence in pleasure and the conduct of public duty, see esp. Edwards 1993, esp. 190–200. [BACK]

7. For Cicero’s criticism of those nobiles who retreated into luxury in moments of political necessity, see esp. Att. 1.18.6: ceteros iam nosti; qui ita sunt stulti ut amissa re publica piscinas suas fore salvas sperare videantur. For Augustus’s attitudes and policy toward the elite, see Nicolet 1984. Of course, Augustus also had an important interest in limiting and restricting the terms in which the members of the aristocracy took part in government, and indeed the “degeneracy” of the aristocracy, so compellingly portrayed by Syme 1939: 490–524 and 1986: 64–81, was itself arguably the product of the princeps’s own monopolization of the honors and prerogatives that provided the traditional impetus toward political action. [BACK]

8. The correlation between civic discord and the disintegration of the family emerges particularly in Appian’s catalogue of the horrors of the proscriptions in 43 B.C.E. (BCiv. 4.17–29). In episodes involving the treachery of son against father (4.18), slave against master (4.26), and wife against husband (4.23–4), the chaos of the state is seen to depend upon and coincide with the breakdown of natural ties. The link between civil war and the destruction of the family manifests itself in a different way in the stories of family members who were destroyed for not abandoning their kin; in these cases, the violence of the civil war literally directs itself against the family group. Thus, for example, the two Egnatii, father and son, are decapitated with a single blow, while their bodies continue to embrace (4.21). Some of the imaginary situations that furnish the topics for rhetorical exercises in Seneca’s Controversiae also advert to the social consequences of the civil wars. In Cont. 10.3, a woman hangs herself outside her father’s door after he refuses to forgive her for not having abandoned her husband, who had died fighting for the losing side during the civil wars. Cf. also Cont. 7.2. [BACK]

9. Res gestae 2.8. See Liebeschuetz 1979: 96. [BACK]

10. See Ryberg 1955: 104 ff., and, for a reading of the census depicted on the altar of Domitius, Torelli 1982: 9 ff. [BACK]

11. For a full discussion of the etymologies that have been proposed, see Ogilvie 1961: 33–35, and see also Versnel 1975: 103 and 112, n. 53. [BACK]

12. See Versnel 1975: 100–103, who gives full bibliography on the subject. [BACK]

13. Tab. Ig. IB. 16f., cited in Ogilvie 1961: 38. [BACK]

14. Deubner 1913: 130. [BACK]

15. Cato Agr. 141. [BACK]

16. See Wissowa 1902: 329, n. 1, for testimonia. [BACK]

17. Versnel 1975: 103. [BACK]

18. Cic. Leg. 2.5. For a further analysis of this passage and Cicero’s treatment of the conflict of loyalties it reveals, see Bonjour 1975b: 78–86. [BACK]

19. Cic. Off. 1. 54: libidinem procreandi. [BACK]

20. Ibid. 1. 55. [BACK]

21. Ibid. 1. 57. [BACK]

22. Ibid. 1.57. [BACK]

23. The importance of loyalty to the native place as a theme in Roman literature is studied in detail by Bonjour 1975b. Among the most significant treatments of the role of love of the native place in the formation of Roman patriotism is Livy’s overview of the transformation from monarchy to republic (2.1), on which see Phillips 1974, esp. 89, and Feldherr 1997. [BACK]

24. Cf., e.g., Nicolet 1980: 44, 47. [BACK]

25. Cf. Bonjour (1975b:64) on the relationship of the two patriae: “Il est évident que le de legibus (2.5) ne fait qu’une différence quantitative, et non qualitative dans la caritas selon qu’elle se rapporte à la grande ou à la petite patrie.” On the word caritas, see Hellegouarc’h 1972: 148–49. Based largely on Cic. Part. 88, scholars have proposed various distinctions between the terms amor and caritas. Both may be applied to family, but while amor is the natural result of usus and familiaritas, caritas implies some choice and is therefore especially suitable to affection for more distant or abstract persons and organizations. But for our purposes it is enough that caritas, too, describes an affective bond that is here applied both to the family and to the patria. [BACK]

26. Cic. Leg. 2.5. [BACK]

27. 2.12.9: Romanus civis sum. [BACK]

28. The same story is also recounted by Cicero (Div. 1.55). [BACK]

29. Conversely, the original religious impropriety of punishing a slave in the arena arose from a failure to understand that this “domestic” issue could have any bearing on the piety of a public festival; cf. Livy’s comment, velut ea res nihil ad religionem pertinuisset (2.36.1). [BACK]

30. 2.32.8–12. Lincoln 1989: 145–48, describes Agrippa’s parable as a strategic inversion of the normal analogical relationship between body and state. Usually, the patricans are associated with the head, but Agrippa reverses this and links them to the belly, a body part with less positive connotations. However, he then overturns the hierarchies implicit in the image of the body itself by insisting that the belly is in fact an important and valuable organ. As a result, the plebeians are returned to the state and accept patrician hegemony. Although interesting as a reading of the parable, Lincoln’s reading does not capture the full importance of the episode in the context of Livy’s narrative, where the emphasis is less on hierarchy than on unity. It is not so much the relative order of bodily parts as simply the acceptance that there is an inseparable organic relationship binding the components of the patria together that provides the key to the preservation of the state. Moreover, this lesson is as important for the patrician Coriolanus to learn as it is for the plebeian secessionists. [BACK]

31. For a full analysis of this episode, see Bonjour 1975a. [BACK]

32. 2.23.3: obsita erat squalore vestis, foedior corporis habitus pallore ac macie perempti; ad hoc promissa barba et capilli efferaverant speciem oris. [BACK]

33. For another analysis and interpretation of this scene, see Walsh 1961a: 171–72. [BACK]

34. Thus the destruction of Alba resembles nothing in Livy so much as the sack of Rome itself by the Gauls at the end of the first pentad. Again, there is the silence (1.29.3; cf. 5.46.1) and the paradox of a city that is at once captured and untouched. [BACK]

35. Livy concludes his account of the sack by describing the preservation of the temples of the gods (1.29.6, another similarity to the scene in Rome after the Gallic sack), and at 1.31.1–4 recounts the prodigies that led to the foundation of the feriae Latinae, an annual festival celebrated on the mons Albanus, which is described as the continuation of a traditional Alban observance. For the existence of Roman priesthoods entrusted with the preservation of Alban rituals, see Wissowa 1902: 448. [BACK]

36. For a complementary treatment of the Alba episode as part of a larger pattern of structural oppositions between the division and unification of peoples that recurs throughout Livy’s first book, see Konstan 1986, esp. 205–210. [BACK]

37. Cf. 1.23.1, and 1.24.9, where the repeated reflexive adjective highlights the correspondence between Roman and Alban institutions. [BACK]

38. Cf. the issues that arise at the beginning of the Latin War (8.4 ff.), discussed in ch. 3. [BACK]

39. See Porte 1989: 178 f. [BACK]

40. For the origins and development of the theory that the absence of a powerful external threat hastened the internal decline of the Roman state, see Earl 1961: 7 ff., and Harris 1979: 127 f., 266 f.; for its manifestations in Livy, see Luce 1977: 271 and Miles 1986: 3–4. Note, too, that the first passage in Livy’s text to discuss the moral and political implications of such fear occurs just a few chapters before this speech, in the description of Numa’s religious program (1.19.4). [BACK]

41. Cf., again, the situation of the devoti, described in ch. 3, who are also simultaneously set apart from the larger group and made its representatives. [BACK]

42. 1.25.11: victusque fratrum ante se stragi. [BACK]

43. 1.25.7: integer; 1.25.11: intactum. [BACK]

44. As Ogilvie 1965: 106, and Burck 1964b: 149 ff., point out, Livy’s economical treatment of the deaths of the first two Romans contrasts markedly with the far more prolix narrative of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. Rom. 3.13–20). Dionysius alternates the deaths of the Romans and Albans and heavily emphasizes each reversal, peppering his account with no fewer than eight speeches. Not only does Livy’s treatment heighten the excitement, but it additionally draws attention to the motif of separation, and to the superiority of the Romans over the Albans as individuals. For an analysis of Dionysius’s presentation of the scene, see Walker 1993: 363–70. Walker argues that Dionysius’s explicit use of theatrical terms to describe the combat operates programmatically to focus attention on his own text’s capacity to produce spectacle and to draw together the experiences of the spectator in the text and the reader. Solodow 1979: 258, contrasts the abstractness and academic frigidity of Dionysius’s treatment of the spectators’ responses with Livy’s success in “making us feel that we too are present at [the] scene.” [BACK]

45. 1.25.7: Ergo ut segregaret pugnam eorum capessit fugam, ita ratus secuturos ut quemque volnere adfectum corpus sineret. [BACK]

46. Thuc. 7.71.3–4. [BACK]

47. Contrast Dionysius’s statement in his account of the episode (Ant. Rom. 3.19.2) that the spectators’ ability to perceive events clearly was hampered by the distance from which they viewed them. See Walker also the discussion of the thematic function of this lack of clarity in Dionysius’s narrative in Walker 1993: 368 f. [BACK]

48. I follow Gebhard’s reading intenduntur (“are stretched out”) at 1.22.2 rather than the manuscripts’ incenduntur (“are enflamed”) to preserve the consistency of the imagery. See Ogilvie 1965: 112–13, for parallels and discussion. [BACK]

49. Cf. the similar observation of Fries 1985: 71–72. [BACK]

50. This event in turn renders the Romans exanimes, as if dead themselves (1.25.6). [BACK]

51. Wilhelm 1936, esp. 77–78, also describes the correlation between the experiences of the groups and their individual champions and analyzes it as a survival of “magical thinking,” or a belief in sympathetic magic, which Livy’s account of the duel has “probably unconsciously” (1936: 82) preserved. [BACK]

52. 1.25.1–5. [BACK]

53. Livy, like the spectators themselves is dragged in each direction by the rival versions, auctores utroque trahunt (1.24.1). On the effect of Livy’s declaration, cf. Konstan 1986: 210: “I would like to suggest that the union of two populations is here figured as the collapse of distinction between individuals: the lone surviving Horatius is an image of the new unity of Rome and Alba.” [BACK]

54. Cf. Wilhelm 1936: 78: “Soll die ganze Abmachung [sc., the decision to settle the dispute through the battle of champions] einen Sinn haben, so erhält sie ihn nur von einer Anschauung aus, für die mit dem Falle der albanischen Kämpfer die Entscheidung zwischen den beiden kämpfenden Mächten wirklich und wesentlich schon gefällt ist” (emphasis Wilhelm’s). [BACK]

55. Wagenvoort 1947: 59–72, esp. 66. [BACK]

56. On augeo, see above, ch. 2, sec. II and n. 70. That the animus in particular should be the site where this new charge of imperium manifests itself is appropriate in light of Livy’s earlier reference to the animus as the psychic organ most affected by the act of watching (animo intenduntur [1.25.2]). On the animus and its special receptivity to sensory impressions, see Onians 1951: 171. [BACK]

57. Another example of how woven garments can become public monumenta, recording the history of the state, is offered by the famous linen corslet of Cossus, which Augustus supposedly saw in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius and used to correct Livy’s assertion that Cossus had been a mere military tribune when he won the spolia opima (4.20.5–11). This passage has been among the most discussed in Livy’s text both as evidence for Livy’s relationship to Augustus and as offering an indication of the date of the first pentad. See esp. the recent interpretation by Miles 1995: 40–47, who also provides bibliography. [BACK]

58. 1.26.2: nomine sponsum mortuum appellat. [BACK]

59. Dumézil 1942: 106–7. Solodow 1979: 266, attempts to refute Dumézil’s point by denying that there is any suggestion that Horatia is behaving shamelessly here (in contrast to Horatius’s explicit charge of immodesty prior to killing his sister at Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 3.21.6). Yet in the context of general Mediterranean conceptions of female modesty, as surveyed by Cohen 1991: 112–15, the public conspicuousness with which Horatia expresses her love for a man to whom she was not married itself could render her behavior suspect. Indeed, one Roman’s definition of female virtue couples an insistence on sexual continence with a larger ability to control emotions and not to give way to outbursts of grief (Musonius 3, cited in Treggiari 1991: 103). So, too, Horatius’s reference to his sister’s immaturus amor, explicitly presents his sister’s affection as “untimely,” a word that not only connotes the inappropriateness of Horatia’s outburst in the context of his ovatio, but also suggests that her love for Curiatius is itself premature. This is not to say that such view of female propriety went unchallenged at Rome (cf. the debates on the public demeanour of women in Livy [34.2–6] and Tacitus [Ann. 3.33–34]), much less that Livy himself endorsed it, simply that Horatia’s behavior and Horatius’s language bring the issue into play. [BACK]

60. For the notion that a woman’s reputation also affected the reputations of the male members of her family, and that consequently it was the duty of fathers, husbands, and brothers both to avenge any attacks upon their female relatives’ honor by outsiders and also to control the conduct of the women themselves, see Cohen 1991: 117–20. [BACK]

61. On the “tensions between lineal and conjugal loyalties” in the Horatia episode and elsewhere in the first book, see also Konstan 1986: 211–12. [BACK]

62. Festus 380 L. See Ogilvie 1965: 117, for further bibliography, and see also Coarelli 1986: 110–17. [BACK]

63. See Phillips 1974: 89, and Feldherr 1998. [BACK]

64. And in the world of Late Republican politics, marriage alliances often prevented hostility between political rivals. [BACK]

65. In doing so, Horatius’s behavior is the exact opposite of that of those Romans and Sabines to whom the Sabine women made their appeal. At 1.13.3, the women invite their husbands and fathers to kill them, as the cause of the conflict, rather than do battle amongst themselves. This appeal so moves (movet, 1.13.4; cf. movet, 1.26.3, of Horatius’s anger at his sister’s behavior) the combatants that they immediately cease fighting. [BACK]

66. Solodow 1979: 253–54. [BACK]

67. Cf. in this context also the cry with which Romulus kills his sibling, Remus, again at the boundary of the city: sic deinde, quicumque alius transiliet moenia mea (1.7.2). [BACK]

68. 1.5.1, 1.25.7, 1.25.11, and 1.26.3. Indeed, Dumézil 1942 interprets the whole narrative complex as the Roman form of an Indo-European myth concerning the regulation of the warrior’s battle rage. [BACK]

69. 1.26.10: spolia Curiatiorum ostentans. [BACK]

70. Ibid.: “He whom you saw [vidistis] just now adorned, celebrating his ovatio, in his victory procession.” Correspondingly, the effect of the speech on the crowd is less to persuade through rational argument than to create a moving visual impression. They spare his son “more out of admiration [admiratione] for his virtue than because of the justice of the case” (1.26.12). [BACK]

71. Dumézil 1942: 122–24. Dumézil also points out that in Indra’s case, the same action, the killing of Vṛtra made him both hero and criminal, while for Horatius this ambiguous status is the result of two separate but related actions. He attributes this difference to a Roman desire to demythologize the motif. Yet at the same time that Horatia’s death makes Horatius a criminal, her mourning offers a new and much more ambiguous perspective on the duel itself, one that also blurs the dividing line between members of the community and outsiders. [BACK]

72. For other views on the function of this digression, see Ogilvie 1965: 110: “It is a quite extraneous addition to the story of the Horatii”; Stübler 1941: 174 ff., for whom the elaborate description of the ritual emphasizes that the Roman’s coming victory is a divinely sanctioned indication of Rome’s superiority; and Fries 1985: 69, who sees the inclusion of the ritual as a device to build suspense for the duel itself. The closest parallel to the interpretation offered here is that of Wilhelm 1936: 79 f., who argues that the use of ritual substitution in the Fetial rite, the pig’s role as substitute for the people, results from precisely the same kind of magical logic that allows the champions to act as surrogates for their respective armies. [BACK]

73. For a fuller description of the fetiales, with testimonia, see Wissowa 1902: 475 ff., and Latte 1960: 121 ff.; and see also Wiedemann 1986, who argues that the original function of the priesthood was to maintain and enforce treaties, and that the more flamboyant ceremony in which they declared war by hurling a spear into foreign territory (see Livy 1.32.5–14) was very much an Augustan construct. [BACK]

74. Livy chooses not to describe the recitation of the oath itself, on the grounds of its length (1.24.6). This is somewhat surprising if his motive for including the ritual is purely antiquarian. Rather, the omission suggests that the significance of the ritual for Livy lies in the processes of authorization and sacrifice that he does describe. [BACK]

75. See Wagenvoort 1947: 19–21, on the sagmina. [BACK]

76. Thus Fowler 1911: 176–77, notes that religious officials who took no part in sacrifice, such as the Vestal Virgins, did not wear red. [BACK]

77. Dumézil 1970: 580–82, and Scheid 1985: 39–43, characterize certain Roman priests, in particular, the Flamen Dialis, as living statues, stand-ins for the gods themselves. This explains the various ritual taboos that fenced off the priest of Jupiter from quintessentially human activities. The victim, too, was chosen for his similarity to the god. Thus generally male animals were sacrificed to male deities, and females to female deities. Black victims were sacrificed to the gods of the underworld, and white to the celestial powers. See Wissowa 1902: 348, and Latte 1960: 380. [BACK]

78. Wissowa 1902: 351, and Latte 1960: 381. [BACK]

79. 1.25.11: nec illud proelium fuit. [BACK]

80. It was also at this moment, just before the victim was slain, that the priest would recite the prayer at a sacrifice (Latte 1960: 388). [BACK]

81. 1.24.2: cum trigeminis reges agunt ut pro sua quisque patria ferro dimicent. [BACK]

82. Ibid.: nihil recusatur. [BACK]

83. Not an uncommon pairing in battle descriptions (cf. 5.38.7, 10.14.20, 10.27.9, and 10.36.3) but given a special significance both by the sacrificial precedent and by the emphasis on dismemberment in the following story of Mettius Fufetius (see below). [BACK]

84. Cf. the attention to the purity of the sagmina in the account of the Fetial ritual (1.24.4–5). Of course, by the time he is ultimately dispatched, the last Curiatius is not intactus, but nor would the victim be at the final moment of the ceremony. [BACK]

85. Solodow 1979: 255–56, n. 11, draws attention to an ambiguity at this point in Livy’s narrative. The quoted law describes the function of the duumviri as iudicare (1.26.6), a word that can mean either “judge” or “convict.” The duumviri interpret it in the latter sense and so suppose that they have no choice but to condemn Horatius (1.26.7). Solodow, who considers it “odd” that duumviri would be appointed only to condemn, not to judge, argues that the duumviri themselves are mistaken, and that their own refusal to act as judges forms part of a larger narrative strategy by which Livy deliberately avoids having any character within the narrative explicitly pass judgment on Horatius’s act. But analogies to sacrificial procedure suggest that there is nothing unusual in having the king appoint surrogates solely for the purposes of condemnation, and I would suggest that the duumviri’s insistence that they have no choice but to find Horatius guilty serves as yet another means of avoiding responsibility for his death. For the importance of avoiding blame for the victim’s death in sacrificial logic see, most conveniently, Burkert 1966: 106 ff., with bibliography. [BACK]

86. The term princeps, used of Horatius as he processes into the city after his victory (1.26.2), also forms part of the same pattern of imagery, for it, too, possesses sacrificial connotations. Scheid 1984: 951–53, demonstrates that the Latin word particeps, “one who receives a share,” the original meaning of which had previously been connected with the division of booty after victory, also recalls the division of meats after a sacrifice. In fact, Scheid suggests that the division of booty is itself “a particular application of a more general principle” (1984: 952) delineated in sacrificial practices. The particeps is defined as a member of the community by receiving a share at the sacrificial banquet, and the share he receives in turn signifies his status within the community. So, too, princeps, an equivalent term signifying the “one who takes the first share or occupies the first rank,” also describes rank within the group in terms of the “portion” received. The explicit reference to the spolia Horatius bears as princeps suggests that these connotations of the title may be operative here. [BACK]

87. Cf., most notoriously, Cic. Cael. 79–80; for the prinicples behind this kind of display, see, e.g., Quint. Inst. 6.1.23 ff. [BACK]

88. Solodow, who thoroughly analyzes the text’s “unresolvedness” (1979: 260), argues that Livy writes in this way in order to reveal the full moral complexities of the episode and to force the reader to make up his own mind about Horatius’s conduct; the emphasis on spectator response in the narrative, by making the events more real to the audience, makes them engage the issues with greater urgency. [BACK]

89. The visual monuments that commemorate these actions also partake of the same structural ambiguities. As we have seen, the tombs of the Curiatii, which record the duel, contrast with the tomb of Horatia (1.26.14). So, too, the tomb that preserves the memory of Horatia’s death balances the tigillum sororium, the “beam” that, according to the aetion given here, absolves Horatius from guilt when he walks under it, “as if sent under the yoke” (1.26.13.). Finally, this image of subjugation stands in opposition to the pila Horatia (1.26.10), the spoils of Horatius’s victory. [BACK]

90. See Ogilvie 1965: 117, and, for a fuller treatment Coarelli 1986: 110–17, who concludes as follows: “One can see then that this gate [the tigillum sororium] was used as much for the rite of passage of initiation—both feminine and masculine—as for the rite of purification that re-admitted into the civic body the warrior returning from battle. But the essential nature of the rites involved is ultimately the same” (1986: 116–17). [BACK]

91. See Coarelli 1986: 115, with bibliography. Curiatius belongs to the same family of words as Quirites and civis itself, all deriving from the conception of being co-viri (Benveniste 1969: 1.335–7). [BACK]

92. Ogilvie 1965: 117, suggests that by Livy’s day, the ritual of the tigillum sororium had lost its initiatory associations, and he thus tries to distance Livy’s narrative of the Horatii from the “primitive” rites performed there. But as my analysis has tried to show, these initiatory functions are very relevant to the account of Horatius as it appears in Livy’s text. What is more, we have no explicit evidence about how these festivals were perceived by an Augustan audience, except for the focus on their expiatory role in Livy and Dionysius, which is almost inevitable given the context in which the rites are described and perfectly consistent with initiation rituals. Nor if we did possess any such testimony would it necessarily provide a complete or accurate description of the ritual’s functions (on the methodological issues involved, see Beard 1980: 26). [BACK]

93. A few initial qualifications must preface my introduction of Girard’s model. Although I believe Girard’s theory explains some features of Livy’s use of sacrifice extraordinarily well, my aim is not to give an exclusively Girardian reading. Thus my emphases differ from Girard’s in a number of respects: Girard does not explicitly discuss the role of visual contact in sacrifice (my use of “perspective” in discussing the spectator’s potential for identification with either the victim or the sacrificer is almost the opposite of Girard’s more abstract application of the word to differentiate the external perspective of one not involved in the pattern of conflict culminating in sacrificial violence from the internal perspective of the participants [1977: 158 ff.]), and the potential identification between the participant and the sacrificial victim is an important component of other sacrificial theories as well (cf. Burkert 1983: 20 f., 38). Finally, it should be acknowledged that Girard does not directly treat Roman sacrificial practice. Nevertheless, he perceives sacrifice as a universal cultural institution and shows that a similar logic lies behind the practices of diverse peoples. Despite procedural differences, the widespread use of sacrifice is a characteristic that Roman culture shares with a variety of ancient and modern societies, but that separates it from our own, where sacrificial rituals are less immediately apprehensible. Hence the value of Girard’s general model of the institution of sacrifice itself is worth the risk entailed by his lack of particular references to Roman practice. For the methodological difficulties involved in the study of Roman sacrificial practices, see esp. Scheid 1984: 949 f., and Habinek 1990. For another use of Girard’s theory of sacrifice to explicate the literature of Augustan Rome, see Hardie 1993: 21 f. and n. 5. [BACK]

94. Girard 1977, esp. 6 ff. [BACK]

95. Girard 1977, esp. 5 and 79 ff. [BACK]

96. Girard 1977: 101 f. [BACK]

97. See Girard 1977: 5: “Sacrificial substitution implies a degree of misunderstanding. Its vitality as an institution depends on its ability to conceal the displacement on which the rite is based. It must never lose sight entirely, however, of the original object, or cease to be aware of the the act of transference from that object to the surrogate victim: without that awareness no substitution can take place and the sacrifice loses all efficacy.” [BACK]

98. Girard 1977: 39–67. [BACK]

99. 1.23.7: cupido imperii. [BACK]

100. 10.38.7–11: Sacrificio perfecto per viatorem imperator acciri iubebat nobilissimum quemque genere factisque; singuli introducebantur. Erat cum alius apparatus sacri qui perfundere religione animum posset, tum in loco circa omni contecto arae in medio victimaeque circa caesae et circumstantes centuriones strictis gladiis. Admovebatur altaribus magis ut victima quam ut sacri particeps adigebaturque iure iurando quae visa auditaque in eo loco essent non enuntiaturum. Iurare cogebant diro quodam carmine, in execrationem capitis familiaeque et stirpis composito, nisi isset in proelium quo imperatores duxissent et si aut ipse ex acie fugisset aut quem fugientem vidisset non extemplo occidisset. Id primo quidam abnuentes iuraturos se obtruncati circa altaria sunt; iacentes deinde inter stragem victimarum documento ceteris fuere ne abnuerent. [BACK]

101. The juxtaposition of animal and human blood also has a prominent place in other Roman descriptions of perverted sacrificial ritual (cf. esp. Vergil’s description of the death of Priam and his son at an altar [Aen. 2.512 f.]). Sallust charges the Catilinarian conspirators with the same transgression in the confirmation of their oath by depicting them drinking wine mixed with human blood (Cat. 22.1–2). In Dio’s account (37.30.3), a boy is actually brought in, sacrificed, and subsequently eaten by the conspirators. [BACK]

102. 10.38.3: quippe in oculis erat…promiscua hominum pecudumque strages et respersae fando nefandoque sanguine arae. [BACK]

103. Torelli 1982: 10. [BACK]

104. Sydenham 1952, nos. 619–21a, 626, 629, 634, 637, 640, 640a. The interpretation of these scenes as depictions of coniurationes confirmed through sacrifice was put forward by Bleicken 1963. The links between the scene depicted on the coins and Livy’s narrative of the Samnite oath are stressed by Instinsky 1964: 86–87. [BACK]

105. Crawford 1974: 715, n. 5, states, against Bleicken 1963: 66–67, that “neither evidence nor probability supports the view that the voluntarium foedus of Livy xxii, 38, 1–5 involved the sacrifice of a pig.” But ancient etymologies that connect the noun foedus with the adjective meaning disgusting or hideous, on the grounds that the sacrificial pig died “hideously,” show the extent to which the act of sacrifice was bound up with the ratification of foedera. (Cf., e.g., Paulus-Festus 84L: foedus appellatum ab eo quod in paciscendo foede hostia necaretur. See also Augustine Dialect. 6.10 ff. For other etymologies of foedus, see below, n. 131.) Moreover other contemporary literary descriptions of treaty ceremonies, e.g., Aen. 8.641, also mention the sacrifice of a pig, especially the fullest account of the ritual, Livy 1.24.4–9, analyzed in the previous section. Thus I find nothing at all improbable about assuming that the word foedus at 22.38.5 implies that a sacrifice took place. [BACK]

106. 10.41.3: civem magis quam hostem timentes. [BACK]

107. 22.38.4: iurabant sese fugae atque formidinis ergo non abituros neque ex ordine recessuros nisi teli sumendi aut petendi et aut hostis feriendi aut civis servandi causa. [BACK]

108. For a complementary analysis of the challenges the Romans of the 20’s faced in interpreting the events of their recent past, see Zetzel 1989, esp. 283–14. Zetzel connects the tension between a backward-looking emphasis on justice and punishment and the promise of social rebirth in bk. 6 of the Aeneid with alternative attitudes toward the violence and disruption of the civil wars, especially as these alternatives were articulated in the Secular Games of 17 B.C.E. [BACK]

109. Dio 51.20. [BACK]

110. Res gest. 12.2. [BACK]

111. Dio 53.23.7. See Raaflaub and Samons, 1990: 424. [BACK]

112. Dio 54.3.6. Raaflaub and Samons 1990: 426. [BACK]

113. For an account of the ritual itself and the available sources, see Fraenkel 1957: 365 ff., and the interpretation by Zetzel 1989: 276–82. [BACK]

114. Cf. the comments of Zanker 1988: 127: “Certainly from the time of the Secular Games in 17 B.C., and probably much earlier, in the 20’s, the princeps must have made it known that henceforth he preferred that statues put up in his honor show him togate at sacrifice or prayer.” [BACK]

115. Elsner 1991: 52: “In looking at the altar Roman viewers did not simply see images of a sacrifice that once happened. They saw a cultural process in which they themselves became involved.” [BACK]

116. This is the thesis of Gordon 1990. [BACK]

117. Dio 43.24.4. Clearly, the story as Dio presents it is designed to blacken the figure of Caesar, but was it based on an actual event? Weinstock 1971: 78–79, assumes that it was but argues that the killings themselves were “probably an archaic form of execution rather than a sacrifice.” But whether or not Caesar emphasized the sacrificial overtones himself—and it is possible to imagine how they may have formed part of a more positive construction of these events, with Caesar as the restorer of discipline and harmony—the narrative Dio presents certainly requires its audience to imagine the scene as a sacrifice (cf. his term ἱερουργία and the unambiguous ἐτύθησαν). [BACK]

118. Dio 48.48.5. [BACK]

119. Dio 48.14.4. Cf. Suet. Aug. 15. [BACK]

120. Cf. Syme 1939: 212: “Clearly these judicial murders were magnified by defamation and credulity into a hecatomb of three hundred Roman senators and knights slaughtered in solemn and religious ceremony on the Ides of March before an altar dedicated to Divus Julius.” [BACK]

121. The question of whether the ὑπομνήματα referred to at BCiv. 5.45 are those of Augustus is debated (see Gabba 1970: xvii–xxiii). Appian refers explicitly to the princeps’s memoirs at Ill. 14 and BCiv. 4.110. [BACK]

122. Appian BCiv. 5.46. [BACK]

123. For a good introduction to the overlap between the political and religious dimensions of Roman civic life, see Beard and Crawford 1985: 25–39. [BACK]

124. Cic. Leg. 2.3. [BACK]

125. 1.19.4: ne luxuriarent otio animi quos metus hostium discliplinaque militaris continuerat, omnium primum, rem ad multitudinem imperitam et illis saeculis rudem efficacissimam, deorum metum iniciendum ratus est. [BACK]

126. Cf. also the explicitly disciplinary function of the execution of the death of the younger Torquatus, described in ch. 3. [BACK]

127. Cf. see the comments of Vasaly 1993: 130, on the differences between Cicero’s rhetorical use of those scenes and monuments actually before the eyes of his audience and those he must summon up entirely through enargeia: “Thus what the visual milieu lost in rhetorical control it gained in direct sensual impact; and what the vividly described environment lost in immediacy it gained in the opportunity it gave the orator to introduce only those visual elements he wished.” [BACK]

128. The Roman troops by contrast are fulfilling the imperia of the king by the very act of surrounding the Albans, imperia exsequerentur (1.28.3). [BACK]

129. 1.28.7: quod bonum faustum felixque sit populo Romano ac mihi vobisque, Albani, populum omnem Albanum Romam traducere in animo est, civitatem dare plebi, primores in patres legere, unam urbem, unam rem publicam facere; ut ex uno quondam in duos populos divisa Albana res est, sic nunc in unum redeat. [BACK]

130. 11.28.1; for the significance of the phrase and the ironies of its usage here, see Versnel 1975: 98 ff. [BACK]

131. The derivation from fides is attested at Serv. Auct. Ad Aen. 8.641, Paul. Fest. 84, et al. For the connection with the adjective foedus, see Paul. Fest. 84 and esp. Serv. Auct. Ad Aen. 1.62: quod hostia foede necaretur. [BACK]

132. App. BCiv. 5.46: οὐδὲ ἦν τι διακεκριμένον ἔτι οὔδ ’ εὔκριτον . [BACK]

133. Ibid. [BACK]

134. 1.28.9: tu tuo supplicio doce. [BACK]

135. This episode shares a number of elements with the description of Mettius’s execution, as well as with the scene of the Samnite initiation. Again the spectators, like the Albans in bk. 1, are secretly surrounded by loyal troops, into which group they must be reincorporated, during their commander’s speech (28.29.10). The imagery of health and healing, which provides the link between Tullus’s description of Mettius as insanabilis and the historian’s references to the salubre effect of his text, there appears even more prominently. Scipio has just recovered from an illness—both the cause and opportunity for the mutiny—and makes the contrast between his own health and the “sickness” of the mutineers the organizing topos of his address to them. It is the rebels who have been ill (insanistis [28.29.3]), but their approval of the execution of their leaders will be the sign that their health has returned (28.29.8). Finally, the execution that the mutineers witness is explicitly compared to a sacrifice: Scipio describes the mutiny itself as a portent, “which can be expiated by no victims and no supplications without the blood of those who have dared so great a crime” (28.27.16) and will later compare the execution of the rebels to “cutting his own viscera” (28.32.4), an image that at once redevelops the earlier emphasis on healing and places Scipio himself in the position of a sacrificial victim, whose viscera would be torn out and examined after the sacrifice. None of these images, it should be noted, appear in the speech Polybius composes for Scipio on this occasion (11.28–9). For the Augustan resonances of this episode, see Syme 1945: 107–8. [BACK]

136. 1.28.8: Albana pubes…in variis voluntatibus communi tamen metu cogente, silentium tenet. The silence that the Albans preserve as a result of their fear may be compared with the ritual silence required during sacrifice. [BACK]

137. Verbal echoes emphasize the connection between the two scenes and encourage comparison. When the elder Horatius says of the prospective death of his son that “the eyes of the Albans could scarcely endure such a hideous spectacle” (1.26.10), the statement foreshadows the spectaculum that the Albans will have to endure. Cf. also the phrase a tanta foeditate supplicii vindicent (1.26.11) with avertere omnes ab tanta foeditate spectaculi oculos (1.28.11). [BACK]

138. Indeed, Tullus’s own death, which Livy describes just four chapters after the death of Mettius Fufetius, will result from an error in the performance of a religious ritual (prava religione [1.31.8]). Moreover, this error derives from Tullus’s misinterpretation of a historical text, the commentarii of Numa. For another example of kings connected with ritual impurity, see the discussion of the fall of the monarchy in ch. 5, sec. IV. [BACK]

139. The previous sentence ends with the present participle portantes (1.28.10) emphasizing that the action of rending Mettius’s body is in progress. It is precisely the image that Livy refuses to have the Albans see that Vergil places on the shield of Aeneas: haud procul inde citae Mettium in diversa quadrigae
distulerant (at tu dictis, Albane, maneres!)
raptabatque viri mendacis viscera Tullus
per silvam, et sparsi rorabant sanguine vepres.

The words citae, recalling Livy’s concitati; in diversa, for Livy’s in diversum iter; and quadrigae, all in the first line of the description, establish the allusion to the Livy passage. (Moreover, the line before the description of the execution of Mettius begins speaks of “treaties [between Romulus and Titus Tatius] ratified by a slaughtered pig” (8.641), another possible reference to Livy, who, as we have seen, describes the Fetial ritual in detail, but in the context of the Alban treaty.) The pluperfect verb distulerant in line 643, while its tense is perfectly appropriate to the ecphrastic context in which it occurs, here also emphasizes that Vergil’s narrative begins where Livy’s leaves off: the Livian description alluded to in the previous line provides only the preliminary narrative for the scene presented on the shield. For the larger relationship between the shield and Livy’s narrative of early Rome, see Woodman 1989, with further bibliography. Ennius (fr. 124 Skutsch), whose account also influenced Vergil’s treatment, seems to have had Mettius Fufetius simply dragged by a chariot, rather than torn apart by chariots heading in opposite directions (see Skutsch 1985: 276 f.). [BACK]

140. These pairs are manipulated in various ways by the different characters. It is the elder Horatius’s request that his son’s decora free him from the foeditas of punishment (1.26.11). [BACK]

141. 1.28.11: gloriari. [BACK]

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