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  • Author or Editor: Dominique Briquel x
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During the Roman Empire, when an autonomous Etruscan culture had disappeared long ago, aspects of the old Etruscan religion were still surviving and had been integrated in the Roman traditional religion: the haruspices, acting as diviners for public or private purposes all over the Roman empire, could interpret prodigies, what Roman priests and even augurs did not. When, with the Christians, a new religion arrived which risked to overthrow the old national religion of the Romans, Etruscan religious tradition played an important role against the rise of Christianity: with the sacred books of the Etruscans, with the prophets who were alleged to have created the Etruscan religious tradition, the Romans could find in their own heritage what could match the Bible of the Christians or their prophets. Unsurprisingly, haruspices were active in the resistance movement against the new religion.

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Livy was born in Padua, among the Venetes, in a part of Italy which received Roman citizenship only in 49 BC and he was very proud of the origins of his little hometown — that could take pride in being, like Rome, a Trojan foundation. Indeed, before telling Aeneas’ arrival on the shore of Latium, he begins his Roman history telling the story of Antenor, the Trojan hero who founded Padova. Later, he insists on the victory of his fellow-citizens in 302 BC over the Spartan Cleonymos, one of the Greek generals who were appointed by the Tarentines to protect them from their enemies — a victory which appears to be a kind of anticipation of that of Rome against Pyrrhus. But Livy was well conscious that, in present times, the leading center in Italy and elsewhere was only Rome: the last time we hear of his native town in the extant books of his work is 174 BC, when the Romans had to restore order and peace in the Venetian town — an event which was considered so important in local memory that it was considered as the beginnig of a new era. The deep attachment of a provincial Roman like Livy to his little hometown did not prevent from feeling himself a member of the larger Roman comunity and resenting a strong attachment to Rome, head of the whole oikoumene and common patria of all Italians. He gives us a good example of the construction of a Roman Italy under Augustus.

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