The Juxtaposition In The Hope Of Roman Light

2134 words - 9 pages

On that first fateful day, when Romulus struck down his own brother Remus, the cauldron of Rome was forged in blood and betrayal. The seeds on the Palatine hill cultured one of the most potent and stretching empires of human history. Though this civilization seemingly wielded the bolts of Zeus, they were infested with violence, vanity, and deception. Yet, one man—or seemingly “un”-man—outshone and out-graced his surroundings and everyone within it. He brought Rome several victories and rescued his beloved country from an early exodus, thus providing her a second beginning. This man was Marcus Furius Camillus, and against a logical and emotional mind, he was oft less than loved and celebrated. At times he was disregarded, insulted and even exiled—irrevocably an unwarranted method to reward Rome’s “Second Founder.” This contrast of character between hero and people was perhaps too drastic and too grand. The people were not yet ready to see Marcus Furius Camillus as a model of behavior to be emulated—to be reproduced. Hence, much of Livy’s Book 5 provides a foundation for the Roman people to imitate and assimilate a contrasting, honest, and strong behavior and temperament
Livy’s first effort at creating a model citizen for the Roman peoples exists through Camillus’s selflessness. This is first exampled through our hero’s piety as exampled by his prayers to the gods before and after his military endeavors. Just before his monumental siege at Veii, Marcus Furius asks for “guidance [from] Pythian Apollo…and vow[s] a tenth of the booty to [him]” (Livy, Rome 5.21); yet more importantly, our hero after his victory raises “his hands to heaven and pray[s]” (Livy, Rome 5.21) in revelation for his gratitude. Livy’s image of Camillus illustrates the depth of a hero’s humility. This character, without a mortal equal, epitomizes military prowess and stratagem, but realizes that his power is commonplace with respect to his masters. His belief and trust in a higher power at all times, not just in his time of need, is what Livy seeks for Roman citizens to emulate. Here at the pinnacle, is the highest of Roman saviors. Nonetheless he still kneels and recognizes the fleeting nature of worldly power. Religion and faith in the gods, is his constant, not a lifeboat to be called for in times of duress. Faith must be lived, breathed, and walked. Livy underscores this idea for Romans and forever future readers with a piercing question: is it our “pleasure that…the gods of Rome… [are not] interrupted in wartime…[but] are abandoned during peace?” (Livy, Rome 5.52). As shown through the actions of our protagonist, the gods are not your self-service; you are theirs. In addition, Camillus’s actions after wars continue his persona of selflessness. Immediately after his omnipotent position during war was no longer necessary, he “resigned the dictatorship” (Livy, Rome 5.23). Many times he was given the dictatorship, and many times he released it. Unlike other Roman monarchs—many...

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