Livy, Veii, and Rome
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The Roman historian Livy, when writing his account of the siege of Veii, embellished many of the details with epic language and tone. By examining similarities with other epics and by contrary archaeological evidence, Livy’s narrative can be shown to be a misrepresentation of the scale and importance of the actual siege. Instead, Livy’s portrayal of events presents readers with an ulterior motive as can be seen in the actions of the main character of Book V, Camillus. The exaggerated account surrounding the siege of Veii lifts Camillus, as a character, into the realm of the epic and legendary heroes of Rome’s past. In doing so, Camillus, an historical character that carries ancient values, becomes a perfect exemplum for right and moral action in the eyes of Livy’s readers.