The Aeneid

Comparing Virgil’s Aeneid and Livy’s Early History of Rome College

Virgil and Livy were the authors of two substantially different works; one a propagandist epic in the style of Homer, the other an informed account of Rome’s history. This said, it is interesting to note Virgil’s inclusion of short historical narratives within the fictional tale, a fact which allows a historiographical comparison to be made between him and Livy: namely what effect they intended their accounts to have on the Roman reader. Moreover, The Aeneid and the Early History of Rome both provide a view on the subject of Rome’s founding. That Virgil’s historical passages differ drastically from Livy’s is not in doubt, and the view could even be taken that they are not history at all. However, this essay will seek to demonstrate, by using the view of Sempronius Asellio, that history could be used to ‘make men more eager to defend their country, or more reluctant to do wrong’[1].

Virgil’s accounts were more than just a list of events that may or may not have happened. Though largely biased, and in essence mere islands of history in a sea of fiction, Virgil’s take on historical events were intended to have an effect on the Roman reader every bit as powerful as Livy’s purposeful and scholarly documentation. The first obstacle...

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