Dionysius of Halicarnassus

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Greek: Διονύσιος Ἀλεξάνδρου Ἁλικαρνασσεύς, Dionúsios Alexándrou Halikarnasseús, "Dionysios son of Alexandros of Halikarnassos"; c. 60 BC – after 7 BC) was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His literary style was Atticistic — imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime.

Dionysius' opinion of the necessity of a promotion of paideia within education, from true knowledge of Classical sources, endured for centuries in a form integral to the identity of the Greek elite.[1]

Dionigi di Alicarnasso
Dionysius of Halicarnassus


He was a Halicarnassian.[1] At some time he moved to Rome after the termination of the civil wars, and spent twenty-two years studying Latin and literature and preparing materials for his history. During this period, he gave lessons in rhetoric, and enjoyed the society of many distinguished men. The date of his death is unknown.[2] In the 19th century, it was commonly supposed that he was the ancestor of Aelius Dionysius of Halicarnassus.[3]


His major work, entitled Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία (Rhōmaïkḕ Arkhaiología, Roman Antiquities), embraced the history of Rome from the mythical period to the beginning of the First Punic War. It was divided into twenty books, of which the first nine remain entire, the tenth and eleventh are nearly complete, and the remaining books exist in fragments in the excerpts of the Roman emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus and an epitome discovered by Angelo Mai in a Milan manuscript. The first three books of Appian, Plutarch's Life of Camillus and Life of Coriolanus also embody much of Dionysius.

His chief object was to reconcile the Greeks to the rule of Rome, by dilating upon the good qualities of their conquerors and also by arguing, using more ancient sources, that the Romans were genuine descendants of the older Greeks.[4][5] According to him, history is philosophy teaching by examples, and this idea he has carried out from the point of view of a Greek rhetorician. But he carefully consulted the best authorities, and his work and that of Livy are the only connected and detailed extant accounts of early Roman history.

Dionysius was also the author of several rhetorical treatises, in which he shows that he has thoroughly studied the best Attic models:

  • The Art of Rhetoric (Τέχνη ῥητορική Tékhnē rhētorikḗ), which is rather a collection of essays on the theory of rhetoric, incomplete, and certainly not all his work;
  • The Arrangement of Words (Περὶ συνθέσεως ὀνομάτων Perì sunthéseōs onomátōn, De compositione verborum), treating of the combination of words according to the different styles of oratory;
  • On Imitation (Περὶ μιμήσεως Perì mimḗseōs), on the best models in the different kinds of literature and the way in which they are to be imitated—a fragmentary work;
  • Commentaries on the Attic Orators (Περὶ τῶν Ἀττικῶν ῥητόρων Perì tôn Attikôn rhētórōn), which, however, only deal with Lysias, Isaeus, Isocrates and (by way of supplement) Dinarchus;
  • On the Admirable Style of Demosthenes (Περὶ λεκτικῆς Δημοσθένους δεινότητος Perì lektikês Dēmosthénous deinótētos); and
  • On the Character of Thucydides (Περὶ Θουκιδίδου χαρακτῆρος Perì Thoukidídou kharaktêros).

The last two treatises are supplemented by letters to Gn. Pompeius and Ammaeus (two, one of which is about Thucydides).[2]

Dionysian imitatio

Dionysian imitatio is the literary method of imitation as formulated by Dionysius, who conceived it as the rhetorical practice of emulating, adapting, reworking, and enriching a source text by an earlier author.[6][7]

Dionysius' concept marked a significant departure from the concept of mimesis formulated by Aristotle in the 4th century BC, which was only concerned with "imitation of nature" and not "imitation of other authors."[6] Latin orators and rhetoricians adopted Dionysius' method of imitatio and discarded Aristotle's mimesis.[6]

Foundation myth

Dionysius is one of the primary sources for the accounts of the Roman foundation myth and the myth of Romulus and Remus. He was heavily relied upon for the later publications of Livy and Plutarch. He writes extensively on the myth, sometimes attributing direct quotations to its figures. The myth spans the first 2 volumes of his Roman Antiquities, beginning with Book I chapter 73 and concluding in Book II chapter 56.

Romulus and Remus

Origins and survival in the wild

Dionysius claims that the twins were born to a vestal named Ilia Silvia (sometimes called Rea). Her family descends from Aeneas of Troy and the daughter of King Latinus of the Original Latin tribes. Procas, her grandfather had willed the throne to his son Numitor but he was later deposed by her uncle, Amulius. For fear of the threat that Numitor's heirs might pose, the king had Ilia's brother, Aegestus killed and blamed robbers. The truth about the crime was known by some, including Numitor, who feigned ignorance. Amulius then appointed Ilia to the Vestal priestesshood, where her vow of chastity would prevent her from producing any further male rivals. Despite this, she became pregnant a few years later, claiming to have been raped.

The different accounts of the twins' conception are laid out, but Dionysius declines to choose one over the others. The sources variously relate that it was a suitor, Amulius himself (in full armor to conceal his identity), or even the god Mars himself. The latter is supposed to have comforted Ilia by making her grieve, and telling her that she would bear twins whose bravery and triumphs would be unmatched. Ilia hid her pregnancy with claims of illness so as to avoid her vestal duties. Amulius suspected her and employed physicians and his wife to monitor her for signs of being with child. When he did discover the truth, she was placed under armed guard. After being informed of the delivery of the twins, Amulius suspected that she had in fact given birth to triplets. The third child had been concealed from the guards present. Ilia was either put to death, or kept secretly in a hidden dungeon for the rest of her life.

Citing Fabius, Cincius, Porcius Cato, and Piso, Dionysius recounts the most common tale. The king orders the twins to be tossed into the Tiber. When his servants arrived at the riverbank, high waters had made it impossible to reach the stream. They left the twin's basket in a pool of standing water on the site of the ficus Ruminalis. After the waters of the Tiber had carried the twins away, their basket is overturned by a rock and they are dumped into the mud. A she-wolf finds them there and nurses them in front of her lair (the Lupercal). Plutarch places the Lupercal as at the foot of Palantine hill along the road to the Roman chariot grounds and was the source of a natural spring.


The twins were discovered by unnamed herdsmen, and when they arrive, the she-wolf calmly retreats into the cave. Faustulus, the man in charge of the royal abattoir, happened upon the scene. He had heard the story of Ilia's twin birth and the king's order, but never let on that he suspected the foundlings were one and the same. He persuaded the shepherds to allow him to take the boys home, and brought them to his wife, who had just delivered a stillborn child. Later, quoting Fabius' account of the overthrow of Amulius, Dionysius claims that Faustulus had saved the basket in which the boys had been abandoned.

As they grew, the boys exhibited the graces and behavior of the royal-born. They passed their days living as herdsmen in the mountains, spending many nights in huts of reeds and sticks.

orphan footnote.[8]

Dionysius relates an alternate, "non-fantastical" version of Romulus and Remus' birth, survival and youth. In this version, Numitor managed to switch the twins at birth with two other infants. The twins were delivered by their grandfather to Faustulus to be fostered by him and his wife. Faustulus was descended from the first Greek colonists in Latium. He was the caretaker for Amulius' holdings around Palatine hill. He was persuaded to care for the twins by his brother Faustinus, who tended the kings herds on nearby Aventine hill.

Their adopted mother was Faustulus' wife Laurentia, a former prostitute. According to Plutarch, lupa(Latin for "wolf") was a common term for members of her profession and this gave rise to the she-wolf legend. The twins receive a proper education in the city of Gabii.

Overthrow of Amulius

According to Fabius, when the twins were 18, they became embroiled in a violent disputes with some of Numitor's herdsmen. In retaliation, Remus was lured into an ambush and capture while Romulus was elsewhere. In Aelius Tubero's version, the twins were taking part in the festivities of the Lupercalia, requiring them to run naked through the village when Remus, defenseless as he was, was taken prisoner by Numitor's armed men.

After rounding up the toughest herdsmen to help him free Remus, Romulus rashly set out for Alba Longa. To avoid tragedy, Faustulus intercepted him and revealed the truth about the twins' parentage. With the discovery that Numitor was family, Romulus sets his sights on Amulius, instead. He and the rest of his village set out in small groups toward the city so that their arrival will go unnoticed by the guards. Meanwhile, after being turned over to Numitor to determine his punishment, Remus was told of his origins by the former king and eagerly joins with him in their own effort to topple Amulius. When Romulus joined them at Numitor's home, the three of them began to plan their next move.

Back home, Faustulus had begun to worry about how the twins' claims will be heard in Alba. He decides to bolster them by bringing the basket in which they were abandoned to the city. He's stopped by suspicious guards at the gates and he and the basket are seen by none-other-than the servant who had taken them to the river those many years before. Under the questioning of the king, and after the king's insincere offers of benevolence toward his nephews, Faustulus, trying to protect Romulus and Remus, and escape the king's clutches, claimed he had been bringing the basket to the imprisoned Ilia at the twins request and that they were at the moment tending their flocks in the mountains.

Amulius sent Faustulus and his men to find the boys. He then tried to trick Numitor into coming to the palace so that the former king could be kept under guard until the situation had been dealt with. Unfortunately for the king, the man he sent to lure Numitor into his clutches instead revealed everything that had happened at the palace.

The twins and their grandfather led their joint supporters to the palace, killed Amulius, and took control of the city.

Plutarch continues the same alternate version of the twins' parentage and youth. After the boys had returned home from their studies in Gabii, Numitor has the twins attack his own herdsmen and drive off his own cattle to contrive a complaint against his brother. To placate him, Amulius ordered not only the twins to be brought to the palace for trial, but all the others who were present, as well. This is exactly what Numitor had hoped for. When Romulus and Remus arrived in Alba, their grandfather revealed their true identity and he, the twins and the other herdsmen joined forces to attack Amulius, apparently killing him.

Death of Remus

The now re-installed King Numitor granted Romulus and Remus control over the area around where Rome would be founded, and sent some of Alba Longa's commoners and nobles along with them. These included volunteers as well as his enemies, and other troublemakers and fifty families of the descendants of the Greeks who had settled in Italy after the Trojan War. The commoners were given provisions, weapons, slaves and livestock.

Wanting to use competition to better complete the many tasks ahead of them, each twin took command of half of the new group of colonists and natives. Instead, the two groups each wanted their twin to be king. Eventually, both Romulus and Remus began to harbor their own ambitions of being the sole ruler of the new city. Things came to a head when a dispute broke out over the particular hill upon which Rome should be built. Romulus wanted to build on Palatine Hill for its significance to their childhood. Remus chose Aventine Hill for its strategic advantages. Finally, with no resolution in site, they took the matter to Numitor. He told each twin to stake out a spot on an appointed morning at dawn and wait for a "bird omen" from the gods to settle things.

They took his suggestion and the two brothers took their positions along with guard to prevent cheating. No birds appeared to Romulus, but he tried to trick Remus by sending a message that he should come to him right away. Ashamed, the messengers took their time, and while en route, Remus saw 6 vultures. The messengers brought Remus back to his brother and when they arrived, Romulus was asked what type of bird he had seen (apparently owing to the ruse). Unsure, Romulus was suddenly saved by the sudden arrival of 12 vultures. He dismissed his brother's query and declared himself the winner. Furious Remus refused to accept defeat. This reignited the conflict between them.

Outwardly, each twin acknowledged the other's claim to having won: Remus by seeing the vultures first, and Romulus by seeing more of them. Privately, however, neither was willing to give in. An armed battle broke out between their followers resulting in deaths among both. Faustulus was so distraught over his inability to end the strife between his adopted sons that he threw himself into the middle of the fighting and was killed. Remus also fell. Romulus was devastated at his personal losses as well as the many suffered by the twins' followers. Only after the intervention of Laurentia was he able to return to the job of founding the city.

Other sources who are unnamed by Plutarch claimed that despite his anger over Romulus' conduct during the contest of the augury, Remus conceded and the construction of the city began on Palatine Hill. Out of resentment, he derided the city's newly-built walls and demonstrated their ineffectiveness by leaping over them, saying that an enemy of Romulus could do the same. In response, Celer, the job's foreman, killed him on the spot with a blow to the head and implied that Remus himself had become his brother's enemy.

Foundation of Rome by Romulus

Before construction on the city began Romulus made sacrifices and received good omens, and he then ordered the populace to ritually atone for their guilt. The city's fortifications were first and then housing for the populace. He assembles the people and gives them the choice as to what type of government they want. After his address, which extols Bravery in war abroad, and moderation at home, and in which Romulus denies any need to remain in power, the people decide to remain a kingdom and ask him to remain its king. Before accepting he looks for a sign of the approval of the gods. He prays, and witnesses an auspicious lightning bolt, after which he declares that no king shall take the throne without receiving approval from the gods.


He divides Rome into 3 tribes, each selected a Tribune in charge of each. Each tribe was divided into 10 Curia, and each of those into smaller units. He divided the kingdoms land holdings between them. Plutarch suggests that Athenian institutions were the inspiration for Romulus' creation of the Patrician class from the wealthy and virtuous. All other Romans formed the Plebeian class. The Patricians were put in charge of religious, legal and civil institutions, while the Plebs were to be farmers, herders and tradesmen. Each curiae was responsible for provided soldiers in the event of war.

To maintain order, every pleb had the right to choose a Patrician in a system of patronage (clientela). All patrons (patronus) were required to protect the rights and interests of those plebs (cliens) beneath them. In return all plebs were required to support his patron in his endeavors and assist him when needed. It was illegal for either party to testify against one another or otherwise act against the interests of the other. Romulus then proceeded to establish the senate. Another act that Dionysius attributes to Greek influence. He selected 300 of the strongest and fittest among the nobles to become his personal bodyguard and messengers. The celeres were so-named either for their quickness, or, according to Valerius Antias, for their commander. These were the first Roman cavalry and were instrument in many Roman victories.

Romulus then delimited the various powers of the institutions he had created. The Roman king was made the ultimate authority in all religious and legal matters. He would personally hear the cases of "the greatest crimes" but after reaching a decision, his opinion would be subject to approval by the people. He would be the commander in chief of the military in wartime.

The senate would have the power to decide any matter or issue brought to them by the king with a binding vote (attributed by Dionysius to the Lacedaemonians. The popular assemblies had the power to elect magistrates, pass laws and declare war at the king's discretion.

Romulus passed laws meant to encourage child-rearing. He welcomed free men of any background to settle in the new city with promises of citizenship and an offer of protection from those from home who might be pursuing them. Immigrants flocked to Rome as a result. Rome would also benefit from their practice of sending colonists to newly conquered cities and allowing the subjugated to carry on as they had before. More common in the Greek world was to treat those they defeated harshly. Rome grew 10 times during Romulus' reign.

In an extensive exploration of the various, lurid traditions of the day, Dionysius effusively praises the manner in which Romulus' organized and established Rome's religious customs and practices. He attributes to the king everything from the founding of temples, to defining the sphere of individual gods, their festivals and the blessings they would each bestow. Among the Greek and native traditions, he kept only those he deemed worthy and rejected any that were too unseemly or otherwise unfit for Roman society.

According to Terentius Varro, Romulus appointed a large number of Roman men and women to religious office during his reign. He also allowed the various curia to select their own. He adopted the Greek practice of appointing children to participate in the city's ceremonies. He established an office of augury, who would ensure the approval of the gods during all worship undertaken. Each curia was required to sacrifice and give offerings in a way so specified. He established budgets for religious practice in the city.

Legal system

Bernard van Orley - Romulus Gives Laws to the Roman People - WGA16696
Bernard van Orley - Romulus Gives Laws to the Roman People - WGA16696

Again, Dionysius thoroughly describes the laws of other nations before contrasting the approach of Romulus and lauding his work. The Roman law governing marriage is, according to his Antiquities an elegant yet simple improvement over that of other nations, most of which he harshly derides. By declaring that wives would share equally in the possessions and conduct of their husband, Romulus promoted virtue in the former and deterred mistreatment by the latter. Wives could inherit upon their husband's birth. A wife's adultery was a serious crime, however, drunkenness could be a mitigating factor in determining the appropriate punishment. Because of his laws, Dionysius claims, not a single Roman couple divorced for the next 5 centuries. His laws governing parental rights, in particular those that allow fathers to maintain power over their adult children were an improvement over those of others.

Under the laws of Romulus, native-born free Roman's were limited to two forms of employment: farming and the army. All other occupations were filled by slaves or non-Roman labor.

Romulus used the trappings of his office, to encourage compliance with the law. His court was imposing and filled with loyal soldiers and he was always accompanied by the 12 lictors appointed to be his attendants.

Rape of the Sabine women

According to Gnaeus Gellius, in Romulus' fourth year in power, the recently founded city of Rome, its population swollen with immigrants found itself surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and short of marriageable women. Romulus sought to solve both problems through intermarrying with the other cities in the region, but he was rebuffed. His solution having been approved by his grandfather, received the auspices of the gods, and the support of the senate began with the announcement of a spectacular festival and competitions to honor the god Neptune, and to which all of Rome's neighbors were welcome. They came from far and wide, sometimes entire families, to attend and participate.

On the king's signal, Romans began abducting the young women in attendance much to the shock and horror of their guests. Later, the women are brought before him where he assures them that he and the other men of Rome intend to honorably marry them and that they won't be sexually exploited in any way. This eases their fears.

The cities of Caenina, Crustumerium, and Antemnae petition Tatius, king of the Sabines to lead a joint attack in response to the kidnappings. Their goal was stymied by Rome's own diplomatic efforts and the other three cities eventually concluded that Tatius was delaying any action on purpose. They decided to attack Rome without the Sabines and their armies are defeated and their cities captured each in turn.

The wars that resulted from the mass abduction committed by the Romans came to a climax in an epic battle fought at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. After the Sabines had captured the Roman Citadel through guile, they occupied the most strategically important point in the city with the help, knowing or otherwise, of Tarpeia. After several skirmishes and minor engagements, the armies fought two pitched battles featuring valor and losses to both sides.

The Intervention of the Sabine Women
The Intervention of the Sabine Women, by Jacques-Louis David, 1799

In the course of the battle, both sides found themselves on the verge of defeat, only to turn the tide back in the nick of time. Romulus himself was injured by a rock to the head. The fighting ceased only by the coming of dusk. Afterwards, the Sabine women, led by the noble Hersilia, convinced the two kings to make peace.

After a ceasefire, the nations agreed to become a single kingdom under the joint rule of Romulus and Tatius. The city was expanded and its institutions were adjusted to accommodate the new increase in population and to demonstrate their mutual good will. The joint kingship lasted for four years until the death of Tatius. During this time they conquered the Camerini and made their city a Roman colony.

Deaths of Tatius and Romulus

The two peoples are merged under a joint throne with Rome as the capital. The Sabines and Romans alike were then declared Quirites, from the Sabine city of Cures. To honor the Sabine women, when Romulus divided the city into 30 local councils, he named them after the women. He also recruits three new units of knights and called them Ramnenses Tatiensis (from the two kings names).

Some of Tatius' friends victimized some Laurentii and when the city sent ambassadors to demand justice, Tatius would not allow Romulus hand over the perpetrators over to them. A group of Sabines waylay the ambassadors as they sleep on the way home. Some escape and when word gets back to Rome, Romulus promptly turns the men respsonsible—including one of Tatius' family members—over to a new group of ambassadors. Tatius follows the group out of the city and frees the accused men by force. Later, while both kings are participating in a sacrifice in Lavinium he is killed in retribution.

The account of Licinius Macer recounts that Tatius was killed when he went alone to try and convince the victims in Lavinium to forgive the crimes committed. When they discovered he had not brought the men responsible with him, as the senate and Romulus had ordered, an angry mob stones him to death.

After his rule had turned more dictatorial, Romulus met his end. Either through actions divine or earthly. According to some reports, Romulus is swept up into heaven, where he takes his place among the gods as Quirinus. Others point to the hands of the nobility, who had grown ever more resentful of their treatment by king.


  • Collected Works edited by Friedrich Sylburg (1536–1596) (parallel Greek and Latin) (Frankfurt 1586) (available at Google Books)
  • Complete edition by Johann Jakob Reiske (1774–1777)[9]
  • Archaeologia by A. Kiessling (1860-1870) (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4) and V. Prou (1886) and C. Jacoby (1885–1925) (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4, supplementum) [9]
  • Opuscula by Hermann Usener and Ludwig Radermacher (1899-1929)[9] in the Teubner series (vol. 1 contains Commentaries on the Attic Orators, Letter to Ammaeus, On the Admirable Style of Demosthenes, On the Character of Thucydides, Letter to Ammaeus about Thucydides, vol. 2 contains The Arrangement of Words, On Imitation, Letter to Gn. Pompeius, The Art of Rhetoric, Fragments)
  • Roman Antiquities by V. Fromentin and J. H. Sautel (1998–), and Opuscula rhetorica by Aujac (1978–), in the Collection Budé
  • English translation by Edward Spelman (1758) (available at Google Books)
  • Trans. Earnest Cary, Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library:
    • Roman Antiquities, I, 1937.
    • Roman Antiquities, II, 1939.
    • Roman Antiquities, III, 1940.
    • Roman Antiquities, IV, 1943.
    • Roman Antiquities, V, 1945.
    • Roman Antiquities, VI, 1947.
    • Roman Antiquities, VII, 1950.
  • Trans. Stephen Usher, Critical Essays, I, Harvard University Press, 1974, ISBN 978-0-674-99512-3
  • Trans. Stephen Usher, Critical Essays, II, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 978-0-674-99513-0


  1. ^ a b T. Hidber (31 Oct 2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece (p.229). Routledge, (editor N. Wilson). p. 832. ISBN 978-1136787997. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  2. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Dionysius Halicarnassensis" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 285–286.
  3. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Dionysius, Aelius", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, p. 1037
  4. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus. "The Roman Antiquities (Loeb Classical Library edition, 1937), Book 1, 11". Penelope, University of Chicago. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  5. ^ E. Gabba, Dionysius and the History of Archaic Rome (Berkeley 1991)
  6. ^ a b c Ruthven (1979) pp. 103–4
  7. ^ Jansen (2008)
  8. ^ In his account of the conflict with Amulius, Livy claims that Faustulus, had always known that the boys had been abandoned by the order of the king and had hoped that they are of Royal blood, Histories I.5
  9. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.

Further reading

  • Bonner, S. F. 1939. The literary treatises of Dionysius of Halicarnassus: A study in the development of critical method. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Damon, C. 1991. Aesthetic response and technical analysis in the rhetorical writings of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Museum Helveticum 48: 33–58.
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus. 1975. On Thucydides. Translated, with commentary, by W. Kendrick Pritchett. Berkeley and London: Univ. of California Press.
  • Gabba, Emilio. 1991. Dionysius and the history of archaic Rome. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  • Gallia, Andrew B. 2007. Reassessing the 'Cumaean Chronicle': Greek chronology and Roman history in Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Journal of Roman Studies 97: 50–67.
  • Jonge, Casper Constantijn de. 2008. Between Grammar and Rhetoric: Dionysius of Halicarnassus On Language, Linguistics and Literature. Leiden: Brill.
  • Jonge, Casper C. de, and Richard L. Hunter (ed.). 2018. Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Augustan Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sacks, Kenneth. 1986. Rhetoric and speeches in Hellenistic historiography. Athenaeum 74: 383–95.
  • Usher, S. 1974–1985. Dionysius of Halicarnassus: The critical essays. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard Univ. Press.
  • Wiater, N. 2011. The ideology of classicism: Language, history and identity in Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.
  • Wooten, C. W. 1994. The Peripatetic tradition in the literary essays of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. In: Peripatetic rhetoric after Aristotle. Edited by W. W. Fortenbaugh and D. C. Mirhady, 121–30. Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanities 6. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

External links

Aborigines (mythology)

The Aborigines in Roman mythology are the oldest inhabitants of central Italy, connected in legendary history with Aeneas, Latinus and Evander. They were supposed to have descended from their mountain home near Reate (an ancient Sabine town) upon Latium, where they expelled the Siceli and subsequently settled down as Latini under a King Latinus.

Aeneas Silvius

Aeneas Silvius (said to have reigned 1110-1079 BC) is the son of Silvius, in some versions grandson of Ascanius and great-grandson, grandson or son of Aeneas. He is the third in the list of the mythical kings of Alba Longa in Latium, and the Silvii regarded him as the founder of their house. Dionysius of Halicarnassus ascribes to him a reign of 31 years. Ovid does not mention him among the Alban kings. According to Livy and Dionysius the heir of Aeneas Silvius was named Latinus Silvius.


In Roman mythology, Amulius was king of Alba Longa who ordered the death of his infant, twin grandnephews Romulus, the eventual founder and king of Rome, and Remus. He was deposed and killed by them after they survived and grew to adulthood.

He is the brother and usurper of Numitor and son of Procas. He was said to have reigned 42 years before his death (794-752 BC). His brother, had been king, but Amulius overthrew him, killed his son, and took the throne. He forced Rhea Silvia, Numitor's daughter, to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess of Vesta, so that she would never bear any sons that might overthrow him. However, she was raped or seduced by the god Mars, resulting in the birth of the twins. Rhea was thrown into prison and her sons ordered to be thrown into the river Tiber. The twins washed up onto dry land and were found by a she-wolf who suckled them. Later their mother was saved by the river god Tiberinus who ended up marrying her. Romulus and Remus went on to found Rome and overthrow Amulius, reinstating their grandfather Numitor as king of Alba Longa.


Ascanius (; Ancient Greek: Ἀσκάνιος) (said to have reigned 1176-1138 BC) a legendary king of Alba Longa and is the son of the Trojan hero Aeneas and either Creusa, daughter of Priam, or Lavinia, daughter of Latinus. He is a character in Roman mythology, and has a divine lineage, being the son of Aeneas, who is the son of the goddess Venus and the hero Anchises, a relative of the king Priam; thus Ascanius has divine ascendents by both parents, being descendants of god Jupiter and Dardanus. He is also an ancestor of Romulus, Remus and the Gens Julia. Together with his father, he is a major character in Virgil's Aeneid, and he is depicted as one of the founders of the Roman race.

Battle of Asculum

The Battle of Asculum took place in 279 BC between the Roman Republic under the command of the consuls Publius Decius Mus and Publius Sulpicius Saverrio and the forces of king Pyrrhus of Epirus. The battle took place during the Pyrrhic War, after the Battle of Heraclea of 280 BC, which was the first battle of the war. There exist accounts of this battle by three ancient historians: Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch and Cassius Dio. Asculum was in Lucanian territory, In southern Italy.

Curetes (tribe)

This article discusses the legendary tribe of the Curetes. For the dancing attendants of Rhea, see Korybantes.In Greek mythology and epic literature, the Curetes (Ancient Greek: Κουρῆτες) were a legendary people who took part in the quarrel over the Calydonian Boar. Strabo mentioned that the Curetes were assigned multiple identities and places of origin (i.e. either Acarnanians, Aetolians, from Crete, or from Euboea). However, he clarified the identity of the Curetes and regarded them solely as Aetolians. Dionysius of Halicarnassus mentioned the Curetes as the old name of the Aetolians.

Dionysian imitatio

Dionysian imitatio is the influential literary method of imitation as formulated by Greek author Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the first century BCE, which conceived it as the rhetorical practice of emulating, adapting, reworking and enriching a source text by an earlier author. It is a departure from the concept of mimesis which only is concerned with "imitation of nature" instead of the "imitation of other authors."

Evander of Pallene

In Roman mythology, Evander (from Greek Εὔανδρος Euandros, "good man" or "strong man": an etymology used by poets to emphasize the hero's virtue) was a culture hero from Arcadia, Greece, who brought the Greek pantheon, laws, and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, sixty years before the Trojan War. He instituted the festival of the Lupercalia. Evander was deified after his death and an altar was constructed to him on the Aventine Hill.

In addition, Strabo, mention that one of the stories about Rome is that it was an Arcadian colony and was founded by Evander.

Imitation (art)

Imitation is the doctrine of artistic creativity according to which the creative process should be based on the close imitation of the masterpieces of the preceding authors. This concept was first formulated by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the first century BCE as imitatio, and has since dominated for almost two thousand years the Western history of the arts and classicism; in the 18th century, Romanticism reversed it with the creation of the institution of romantic originality. In the 20th century, the modernist and postmodern movements in turn discarded the romantic idea of creativity, and heightened the practice of imitation, copying, plagiarism, rewriting, appropriation and so on as the central artistic device.


Leophron was the son of Anaxilas, tyrant of Rhegium and Messana. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, he succeeded his father in the sovereign power. It is therefore probable that he was the eldest of the two sons of Anaxilas, in whose name Micythus assumed the sovereignty, and who afterwards, at the instigation of Hieron of Syracuse, dispossessed the latter of his authority. Diodorus, from whom we learn these facts, does not mention the name of either of the young princes. According to the same author, their reign lasted six years (467-461 BC), when they were expelled by a popular insurrection both from Rhegium and Zancle.Leophron is elsewhere mentioned as carrying on war against the neighbouring city of Locri, and as displaying his magnificence at the Olympic games, by feasting the whole assembled multitude. His victory on that occasion was celebrated by Simonides.

Mount Algidus

The Algidus Mons, known in English as Mount Algidus, is the eastern rim of the dormant Alban Volcano in the Alban Hills, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Rome, in Italy. The ridge is traversed by a narrow crevasse called la Cava d'Aglio. It was the site of the ancient Roman Battle of Mount Algidus.

The Via Latina, a road that was strategically advantageous in the military history of Rome, leads to Mount Algidus mountain pass. Dionysius of Halicarnassus claimed that a town was founded on the mountain (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, x. 21, xi. 3), but this has not been verified by modern scholarship. Although an extensive fortification lines the Maschio d'Ariano (the hill to the south of the Via Latina), this particular structure was entirely medieval, and therefore did not exist during the time period described by Dionysius. However, some historical topographers have mistakenly included it on maps meant to illustrate Italy during the Western Roman Empire.


The Oenotrians ("tribe led by Oenotrus" or "people from the land of vines - Οἰνωτρία") were an ancient people of Greek origin who inhabited a territory from Paestum to southern Calabria in southern Italy. By the sixth century BC, the Oenotrians had been absorbed into other Italic tribes.

According to Pausanias and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Oenotria was named after Oenotrus, the youngest of the fifty sons of Lycaon who migrated there from Arcadia in Peloponnese, Greece. According to Antoninus Liberalis, their arrival triggered the migration of the Elymians to Sicily. The settlement of the Greeks with the first stable colonies, such as Metapontum, founded on a native one (Metabon), pushed the Oenotrians inland. From these positions a "wear and tear war" was started off with the Greek colonies, which they plundered more than once. From the 5th century BC onwards, they disappeared under the pressure of an Oscan people, the Lucanians. Virgil mentions them as the settlers of Hesperia whose descendants now call their land Italy.A likely derivation of the ethnonym Oenotrian would be the Greek οἶνος (oinos), "wine", as the Oenotrians inhabited a territory rich in vineyards, with Oenotria (or Enotria) being extended to refer to the entirety of Southern Italy. Hesychius mentions the word οἴνωτρον (oinōtron), a kind of a vine stake.According to a traditionalist view, the Oenotrians represent the southern branch of a very old and different ethno-linguistic layer from the proto-Latin one, which would have occupied the Tyrrhenian area from Liguria to Sicily (Ligurian/Sicanian layer).

On the Sublime

On the Sublime (Περì Ὕψους Perì Hýpsous) is a Roman-era Greek work of literary criticism dated to the 1st century AD. Its author is unknown, but is conventionally referred to as Longinus (; Ancient Greek: Λογγῖνος Longĩnos) or Pseudo-Longinus. It is regarded as a classic work on aesthetics and the effects of good writing. The treatise highlights examples of good and bad writing from the previous millennium, focusing particularly on what may lead to the sublime.

The author's identity has been debated for centuries. The oldest surviving manuscript, from the 10th century, indicates the original author was named "Dionysius or Longinus", which was later misread as "Dionysius Longinus". Subsequent interpretations have attributed the work to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st century) or Cassius Longinus (c. 213–273 AD), though neither is now widely accepted.

Pyrrhic War

The Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC) was a war fought by Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus. Pyrrhus was asked by the people of the Greek city of Tarentum in southern Italy to help them in their war with the Roman Republic.

A skilled commander, with a strong army fortified by war elephants (which the Romans were not experienced in facing), Pyrrhus enjoyed initial success against the Roman legions, but suffered heavy losses even in these victories. Plutarch wrote that Pyrrhus said after the second battle of the war, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined." He could not call up more men from home and his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent. The Romans, by contrast, had a very large pool of military manpower and could replenish their legions even if their forces were depleted in many battles. This has led to the expression Pyrrhic victory, a term for a victory that inflicts losses the victor cannot afford in the long term.

Worn down by the battles against Rome, Pyrrhus moved his army to Sicily to war against the Carthaginians instead. After several years of campaigning there (278-275 BC), he returned to Italy in 275 BC, where the last battle of the war was fought, ending in Roman victory. Following this, Pyrrhus returned to Epirus, ending the war. Three years later, in 272 BC, the Romans captured Tarentum.

The Pyrrhic War was the first time that Rome confronted the professional mercenary armies of the Hellenistic states of the eastern Mediterranean. Rome's victory drew the attention of these states to the emerging power of Rome. Ptolemy II, the king of Egypt, established diplomatic relations with Rome. After the war, Rome asserted its hegemony over southern Italy.

Silvius (mythology)

In Roman mythology, Silvius, or Sylvius, (Latin: Silvǐus; Greek: Σιλούιος; said to have reigned 1139-1110 BC), or Silvius Postumus, was either the son of Aeneas and Lavinia or the son of Ascanius. He succeeded Ascanius as King of Alba Longa.According to the former tradition, upon the death of Aeneas, Lavinia is said to have hidden in a forest from the fear that Ascanius would harm the child. He was named after his place of birth, Silva being the Latin word for forest or wood.

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a dispute arose on who should succeed Ascanius, either Silvius (the brother of Ascanius) or Iulus (the son of Ascanius). The dispute was decided in favor of Silvius by the people who believed that it was his right as the grandson of Latinus. Julus was awarded the priesthood. All the kings of Alba following Silvius bore the name as their cognomen.

His son, Aeneas Silvius, was also king of Alba Longa, and his other son, Brutus, was the first king of Britain.

Spurius Furius Medullinus Fusus (consul 464 BC)

Spurius Furius Medullinus Fusus (d. 453 BC) was a Roman politician in the 5th century BC, and was consul in 464 BC, and consul suffect in 453 BC.

Titus Lartius

Titus Lartius, surnamed either Flavus or Rufus, was one of the leading men of the early Roman Republic, twice consul and the first Roman dictator.

Titus Sicinius Sabinus

Titus Sicinius (Sabinus?) A.K.A. - Titus Siccius (per Dionysius of Halicarnassus) was a Roman Republican politician, possibly of the Patrician branch of an otherwise Plebeian gens Sicinius, during the beginning of the 5th century BC. He served as Consul of Rome in 487 BC, serving together with Gaius Aquillius Tuscus.

Tros (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Tros (; Greek: Τρώς, Ancient Greek: [trɔ́ːs]) was the founder of Troy and the son of Erichthonius by Astyoche (daughter of the river god Simoeis) or of Ilus I, from whom he inherited the throne. Tros was the father of three sons: Ilus, Assaracus and Ganymede and lastly a daughter, Cleopatra. He is the eponym of Troy, also named Ilion for his son Ilus. Tros's wife was said to be Callirrhoe, daughter of the river god Scamander, or Acallaris, daughter of Eumedes.

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