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Chronoi Talks: “Festive Time and Historical Time in Livy’s Ab urbe condita” (Online)

December 17, 2020

4 pm - 5 pm (CET)

Dr. Anke Walter (Newcastle University, EC-Chronoi)

In Livy’s monumental work on Roman history, time, at least for a large part of the narrative, is structured by the annual festivals and other rituals that allow the Romans to appease their gods on a regular basis, ensuring, if successful, internal concord and external expansion. However, one festival that Livy depicts in great detail – a Macedonian festival of purification and its aftermath, which provides a stage to the discord between king Philip’s two sons and seals the beginning of the end of the Macedonian dynasty –anticipates the internal discord that is going to erupt in the Rome of the civil wars. The festival, while focused on a few specific days, opens up a window on a large stretch of Roman history, underlining the importance of Roman piety and the regular ceremonies in honour of its gods to avoid disaster. Festive time thus emerges as a central feature of historical time for Livy, both in its regularity and its ability to encapsulate long-term historical processes.

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