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SOCIAL STUDIES DIARY

Historical Invention

Today, I completed drafting Chapter 28 of my manuscript dealing with the history of the Roman Republic. What has amazed me more and more about this work is the extent that historical events and persons were used in the creation of an inventive mind, mainly the mind of Livy, but also the gullibility of Plutarch in accepting Livy's account. More than perhaps any other person, Marcus Furius Camillus is used as the focus of resurrecting the reputation of the ancient Romans. He is central to both themes that are so strongly presented by Livy, which include "the struggle of the orders" (the struggle for power and recognition between the patricians and the plebeians) and the "equalization of the orders". In the process, Camillus becomes a resurrectional figure in the scenario presented by Livy and accepted by the ancient sources, as well as the modern scholars.

No other military figure stands out in the military affairs of Rome during the period ending in the fourth century BCE and the first half of the third century BCE. Camillus is brilliant, brave, smart, efficient, determined, and yet at the same time, he is rejected and accused of heresy, theft and was tried in his absence by the plebeians after his exile from Rome. However, just in the nick of time, Livy has Camillus riding to the rescue to retrieve the shameful and humiliating defeat of the Romans by the Gauls. Camillus, in other words, would make a great fictional story and character. Livy seems to be using him as a foil to undue many shameful deeds of the Romans and in the process he has ennobled Roman history by making a disaster into a heroic epoch.
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