University of Tasmania
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Verecundia in Livy and Valerius Maximus

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Version 2 2024-05-01, 22:59
Version 1 2023-05-27, 19:24
posted on 2024-05-01, 22:59 authored by Tegan Gleeson

This thesis considers the ways in which Livy and Valerius Maximus integrate the Roman emotion verecundia into their exemplary pasts. It asks what nuance verecundia adds to the moral and historical narratives in which it is embedded. By so doing, this thesis achieves three interwoven objectives. It deepens our understanding of how verecundia was conceptualised during the Principate; provides new interpretations of the ways in which literature explored and engaged the (exemplary) past to explore moral issues; and, consequently, reveals something of the concerns of each author within their socio-political milieu. Both Livy and Valerius Maximus extend and adapt Cicero's philosophical conceptualisation of verecundia as a moral quality that regulates appropriate behaviour. Livy's use of verecundia reflects an anxiety about ethical governance and its effect on Rome's imperial reputation, which challenges traditional understandings of Livy as a patriotic author whose history legitimises Roman hegemony. Complementary analysis of Valerius Maximus' collection of moral-didactic anecdotes (exempla) reveals the complex workings of verecundia as a social mechanism which produces 'correct' behaviour. Valerius' assertion that domestic officium et verecundia are the foundation of territorial acquisitions extends Livy's thinking as it recognises a symbiotic relationship between the behaviour of the Roman elite and their imperial endeavours. Comparison of Livy and Valerius' treatment of verecundia in episodes about women exposes how gendered assumptions about proper female conduct have distorted modern scholarship's translation and interpretation of the original Latin texts. This thesis demonstrates that verecundia was understood as a vital social, political, and cultural quality that was integral to recognisably honourable action in all spheres of life, both at home and abroad.



  • PhD Thesis


ix, 252 pages


School of Humanities


University of Tasmania

Publication status

  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2022 the author.

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