I’ve written a couple of conference papers on the the story of Flaminius in Livy’s book 21 and 22, and his ‘magic disappearing act’ at Lake Trasimene in 217 B.C. If you’re interested in reading my paper, (formal title ‘The Seen and The Unseen’) you can download it (plus the powerpoint and the translation handout) from my page at at academia.edu. (one slight warning; because the latest version of the paper was presented at a generalist conference there’s a page of overview at the start which Classicists won’t need to read, but I think otherwise this version of the paper makes overall argument better).
This July I’m very excited to be in New York, at Columbia University, 9th to 11th July for the 27th Annual Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar. The theme is ‘The Journey in Roman Literature’. I’m giving a 30 minute paper, provisionally scheduled for 9.30am Wednesday morning, titled ‘Hannibal’s Alpine Journey and the Wasteland of Italy in Livy Books XXI and XXII’ … The abstract is:
Hannibal’s journey across the Alps to attack the Romans in Italy is one of the most celebrated and famous events of Roman history. This paper deals with one of major accounts of this event, and its aftermath: the story of the crossing in Livy’s book 21, and the battles which follow it at the River Trebia and Lake Trasimene. In particular, the paper will highlight a number of connections in Livy that are found between the personality of Hannibal, the events of the Alpine journey, and Livy’s representation of the Italian landscape. The paper will argue that, starting with the divine vision of the ‘wasteland of Italy’ that was granted to Hannibal at 21.22.6–9, Livy’s depiction of Hannibal, and his journey across the Alps, have strong correspondences in the way the landscape of Italy was rendered in Livy’s literary scheme. It will show that the manner in which Hannibal inflicted defeat on the Romans, is intimately tied, in a very literary way, to both the representation of the alpine crossing and the content of Hannibal’s dream that precedes it. Although the annihilation of the Roman army at Cannae is the military highpoint of Hannibal’s career, this paper will demonstrate that it is the battle of Lake Trasimene, with its rich tapestry of omens, prodigies, weather, terrain and an earthquake mid-battle, that marks the centrepiece of Livy’s representation and the crescendo of Hannibal’s journey through Italy.
There’s lots of other really good papers being presented over the three days, and the registration is really quite cheap, so if you’re on the USA Eastern seaboard in July this year or feel like a trip there, you should come along, say hello, hear my paper and a whole bunch of even better ones.
 No, I’ve got no idea why the Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar is in a city on the Atlantic Ocean either, but as it’s Manhattan I’m not complaining.
hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monumento intueri: inde tibi tuaequae rei publicae quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu, foedum exitu, quod vites. — ‘Here in acquiring knowledge of [history] it is particularly salutary and fruitful, for you to behold lessons of every type [as if] laid out on a brilliant memorial: from that you may make use for yourself and your public business what to copy, from that you may shun [that which] is detestable in the beginning, [and] detestable in the conclusion.’ — (Livy 1 pr.10)
My offer of a paper for ASCS 34 (Australasian Society for Classical Studies) next year (January 2013, in Sydney) was accepted. They were blind reviewed. Here is the abstract:
The Seen and the Unseen: Perception and Authority in Livy’s Battle Narratives
At the battle of the Trasimene Lake in 217 B.C., the consul C. Flaminius led his army into a fog that arose from the lake, which obscured their vision of Hannibal’s army lying in ambush. This paper will examine a number of aspects in Livy’s representation of Flaminius and the defeat at Trasimene in conjunction with Feldherr’s (Feldherr 1998) ideas surrounding the spectator and the spectacular. Taken as a whole, the episodes explored in this paper will show that Livy did not set out simply to denigrate Flaminius by repeating the opinions of sources hostile to him, but to have him fulfil an important role in a thought-provoking exemplum about the exercise and the visible representation of power. The paper will link Flaminius’ nebulous perception of the natural world around him to his own invisibility in the Roman civil ceremonies that should have marked his investiture as consul and departure to command the army. It will also explore the theme of sound versus sight in the human perception of battle. It will show the connections between the rational mind of ‘autopsy’ and the irrational emotions which only hear the dissonant clamour of the invisible enemy, in the battle of Trasimene, Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, and the sack of Rome by the Gauls in the 4th century B.C. as it appears in book 5.
There’s also some additional points I’d like to make about the “invisibility” of Flaminius at Trasimene and in Rome, but I’m leaving those as surprises in the paper.
I read yesterday a review by Mary Beard of a number of interesting publications in the Times Literary Supplement, some of these may have bearing on elements of my thesis so I will have to have a look at them. That’s not what this post is about, however. The works are O’Sullivan Walking in Roman Culture, Laurence and Newsome, eds, Rome, Ostia, Pompeii and Kaster, The Appian Way.
Discussing an essay in Laurence and Newsome, by Kaiser called ‘Cart Traffic Flow in Pompeii and Rome’, in which Kaiser talks about the evidence of Rome being a purely, in Beard’s words, ‘pedestrian city during daylight hours’. This is a common assertion which, as it turns out, (not uncommonly), is backed only with a single piece of epigraphic evidence (from southern Italy). This states that wheeled vehicles are banned in daylight hours (except for Vestal Virgins). Kaiser apparently asserts that the word, plostrum or plaustrum specifically applies to a sort of heavy transport ox-cart only. In other words, this is a heavy-vehicle regulation, not a ban on all ‘cars’. Beard questions the connection between Vestals and ox-carts:
For if he is correct about the plostrum being a heavy utilitarian form of transport, what on earth were Vestal Virgins doing riding on one (as one of the exceptions noted in the regulations makes clear that they did)?
As it turns out I can supply one other connection. I happened to write about the Gaulish sack of Rome and Livy’s Book 5 in my master’s thesis and as soon as I read Beard’s question one answer immediately popped into my mind. There is an episode in Livy 5.40, as the Gauls were about to sack Rome and people were fleeing the impending disaster, the Vestals were fleeing the city on foot, carrying the sacred objects. They were then rescued on a cart by a plebeian (who boots his own family off it to accommodate them!). But was this word ‘cart’ the Latin word plaustrum or some other one, like carrus or currus … and on checking, sure enough, it is (the important part is 5.40.9 and 10, I have highlighted the relevant words):
 Flamen interim Quirinalis virginesque Vestales omissa rerum suarum cura, quae sacrorum secum ferenda, quae quia vires ad omnia ferenda deerant relinquenda essent consultantes, quisve ea locus fideli adservaturus custodia esset,  optimum ducunt condita in doliolis sacello proximo aedibus flaminis Quirinalis, ubi nunc despui religio est, defodere; cetera inter se onere partito ferunt via quae sublicio ponte ducit ad Ianiculum.  in eo clivo eas cum L. Albinius de plebe homo conspexisset plaustro coniugem ac liberos avehens inter ceteram turbam quae inutilis bello  urbe excedebat salvo etiam tum discrimine divinarum humanarumque rerum religiosum ratus sacerdotes publicas sacraque populi Romani pedibus ire ferrique ac suos in vehiculo conspici, descendere uxorem ac pueros iussit, virgines sacraque in plaustrum imposuit et Caere, quo iter sacerdotibus erat, pervexit. (Livy 5.40.7-10)
Here’s the translation from the Loeb in case you don’t have the Latin (or don’t have time to work though it):
 Meanwhile the flamen of Quirinus and the Vestal virgins, with no thought for their own belongings, were consulting which of the sacred things they should carry with them, and which, because they were not strong enough to carry them all, they must leave behind, and, finally, where these objects would be safe.  They judged it best to place them in jars and bury them in the shrine adjoining the flamen’s house, where it is now forbidden to spit; the rest of the things they carried, sharing the burden amongst them, along the road which leads by the Sublician Bridge to Janiculum.  As they mounted the hill they were perceived by a plebeian named Lucius Albinius, who had a waggon in which he was conveying his wife and children, amidst the throng of those who, unfit for war, were leaving the City.  Preserving even then the distinction between divine and human, and holding it sacrilege that the priestesses of his country should go afoot, bearing the sacred objects of the Roman People, while his family were seen in a vehicle, he commanded his wife and children to get down, placed the virgins and their relics in the waggon, and brought them to Caere, whither the priestesses were bound.
OK, just to engage in some wild speculation … what if Livy is here retelling one of those stories are meant to explain some (already) antique practice that he might have witnessed in Rome; say the Vestals and the Flamen Quirinalis being hauled about in plaustra? At any rate it is certainly another link between vestals and such vehicles, that may help with understanding the specific exception given to the Vestal Virgins, for some specific practice.
Doing some basic research into Livy’s use of the term fat-um -is (fate) because I was interested in this passage at the end of the description of Hannibal’s dream at 21.22.9;
pergeret porro ire nec ultra inquireret sineretque fata in occulto esse
he was therefore to go on, nor enquire further, but suffer destiny to be wrapped in darkness. (translation – Loeb)
My interest in this little passage is sineret fata in occulto esse, which I translated as something like ‘he must allow the fates to be in secret’. You’ll note fata, the plural, is used here, but the Loeb has the singular ‘destiny’. I was wondering if the plural form has a special meaning, like aedis (temple, room), aedes (house). I asked about some of my fellow post-grads, and oddly enough, two out of three instantly said, “I am sure that’s the form it’s normally in”. Well, is it? Not when you look in the Oxford Latin Dictionary, and certainly not in Livy, it turns out.
Here I am also indebted to the work of Iiro Kajanto, 1957, God and Fate in Livy (Turku) a book which I’m not pleased to say I had to get out on inter-library loan and which is due back shortly. There’s a table on page 63, where he breaks out between fatum and fatalis (e.g. fatalis dux) but here I’m concerned much more with the different cases of fatum and have excluded the adjective. I used Brepolis to do the search. I reproduce the spreadsheet data at the end.
From the data:
The first decade (i.e. books 1 to 10) has 27 of 39 total occurrences. Books 21-45 have 12. The top three books are book 5 (7), book 8 (6) and book 1 (5). After book 30, there are fatum in any form only appears 3 times (all of them the dat/abl singular, fato).
The dat/abl sing.fato is the single most common form in Livy, nearly half of the references (18 of 39) are in this form. I presume because of the forms “by fate”, “with fate”, “to fate”, “from fate” etc. Outside the first decade, it is nearly all fato – actually the occurrence in book 21 is the only time fata is used after book 10 (plus there’s one occurrence of the nom/voc/acc sing. form fatum and one of gen pl. fatorum otherwise it’s fato all the way).
Of each case + number variant: fatum 2; fati 3, fato 18, fata 8, fatorum 1, fatis 7. Singular forms 23, plural 16. Nom/voc/acc s + pl, 10 times, gen s + pl, 4 times, dat/abl s + pl, 25 times.
The raw results from the Brepolis search (with the text in context) can be seen in a PDF here: Livy – fat-um -i search results.
Here is a breakdown of those results in tabular format:
(UPDATE: The html table formatting in the CSS of this WordPress template makes this a complete fail. I attach the Excel XLSX file instead : Occurances of fat-um -is in Livy.xlsx).
My current research can be summarised by the conference paper abstract, that I’ve submitted for AMPHORAE 2012, the annual Australian/NZ Classics postgraduate conference (The ‘Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Hellenic Or Roman Antiquities and Egyptology’ to expand the acronym, which was originally started by postgrads here at my own institution, and now travels the Antipodean world of Classics.).
Landscape and Treachery: Hannibal and Romans and Literary Representations of Italian Landscape.
This paper deals with the interesting ways in which Latin writers have sought to represent the landscape of Italy during the course of Hannibal’s campaign of 218-6 B.C. in Italy. The battle of Lake Trasimene was a key battle in a dreadful series of Roman defeats by the Carthaginian invader, leading up to the complete rout of the Romans and the absolute devastation of their army at Cannae. This paper examines literary representations of the landscape during the war in Italy, particularly the battle of Trasimene with its rich tapestry of omens, prodigies, weather, landscape, and even a devastating earthquake mid-battle. First it seeks to understand the processes by which these representations could mediate Roman and Italian identity. Second, the paper seeks to determine in what manner these representations remained constant or underwent change in the period since the Second Punic War and the periods in which the literatary artefacts were constructed. Third and finally, it asks in what way these representations of landscape were connected to representations of the personality of Hannibal, who after all, had to first conquer the high mountains of the Alps long before he could defeat the armies of the Romans.
Last year’s conference paper, that I gave at AMPHORAE 2011, was on a link I found between Horace Epode 16 and Livy 5.51-4. It’s about the rhetorical and physical connections between literature and city (a not entirely original topic, I must admit). This abstract is for a slightly later and better version of the paper, which I hope (as all postgraduates do) to turn into paper for a journal submission shortly:
Horace, Livy and the Ruin of Rome: Epode 16 and Ab Urbe Condita 5.51-4.
At the end of book 5 of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, the Roman assembly argued over whether they should leave their destroyed city and found a new one. To counter this sentiment, the historian put an eloquent speech into the mouth of the scrupulous hero Camillus defending the sacred site of Rome from abandonment. In complete contrast, the poet Horace in Epode 16 writes of a Rome destroying itself. He urges, as if in an address to a species of political assembly, that the citizen body ought to do the manly thing and leave Rome, deserting it for a mythical island utopia with solemn oaths that forever prevent return. Clearly in the first century B.C. the city is a contested site, not just in political and military terms, but as a rhetorical space as well.
These two remarkable passages are at first glance diametrically opposed: the historian who writes of Rome as an idealised sacred space, which needs continuation, versus the poet who wants to relinquish the city for an idealised sacred island paradise. But are these two passages so hopelessly in opposition that there is no possibility of reading them together in combination? Or are there concordances, even by way of contrast, that can be discerned between them? What, if anything, can these two passages tell us about Roman conceptions of the city in this time of transition from republic to empire? This paper will examine these respective representations of the Roman city, its growing imperial power, and the idealised body of citizens that each claims to represent.
When I look at that, what I don’t see is my key point, that being the way that Horace frames his poem as an address to a species of Roman assembly (see Fraenkel 1957 who is still the best account of this). Although it’s not a real, identifiable, form of actual assembly, it none-the-less distinguishes that in at least some respect Horace was framing his ‘poetic’ proposal as a form of utopian political discourse. And through that, the connection to Livy’s version of Camillus’ speech.
In 2010, I gave a paper about Livy 5.36-49, which then became a chapter in my Master’s dissertation. This abstract at least gives a better sense of what’s in the paper:
The Reversal of Triumph and the Space of Spectacular Representation in Livy 5.36-49
The sack of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B.C. was one of the lowest of low points in Roman history. The boundaries were reversed; Romans acted as though they were Gauls, and Gauls become conquerors of Romans. The Romans are seen here to be brought to this disaster by their greed over the disposition of the spoils of Veii which leads them to impietas and military defeat. Building on Luce’s ideas about the ‘reversals’ in this section of Livy’s text (Luce 1971), this paper seeks to read the sack of Rome as a reversal (or inversion) of the Roman triumph. In doing so it examines the ways in which Livy writes the city as a stage for a spectacle which unfolds before the eyes of the Roman spectators barricaded in that most sanctified of Roman places, the Capitol. Drawing on recent work on the triumph (e.g Beard 2007), it inspects the simulacra of the ex-consuls in their triumphal finery confronting the awestruck Gauls, just as a first century Roman might be awestruck with the strange sight of a captured barbarian being forced to act out his capture on a float in the triumph.
Looking back on these two older abstracts and comparing it to my current one I can see a definite improvement in my ability to write them!
What an extraordinary passage to find in the middle of a battle scene:
tantusque fuit ardor animorum, adeo intentus pugnae animus, ut eum motum terrae qui multarum urbium Italiae magnas partes prostravit avertitque cursu rapidos amnes, mare fluminibus invexit, montes lapsu ingenti proruit, meno pugnantium senserit
and such was the ardor of their minds, and so intent were they on the battle, that an earthquake which overthrew large portions of many towns of Italy, turned the course of rapid-flowing streams, carried the sea into rivers, and pulled down mountains in mighty landslides, was not felt by any of the fighters
Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 22.5.8 – The battle of Lake Trasimene, in which Hannibal defeats the consul ferox G. Flaminius.
Audientae salutem dicit M.
Si vales, bene est, ego valeo.
Please excuse my tardiness in writing to you personally, Dear Reader, since the last time I did so, for this past week I’ve had to plunge myself back into my library and its recherches.
Recently, this has meant I have been reading and annotating from Miriam Pittenger’s excellent 2008 book, Contested Triumphs: Politics, Pageantry, and Performance in Livy’s Republican Rome and have been finding despondency within its pages. The moments of despondency are not caused from Pittenger’s writing, oh no, but but the consequences of what she writes on the outcomes of my research.
The Roman triumph with all its literal and metaphoric riches is not my subject, although it does relate to my research. No, dear reader, this doesn’t impact directly onto me, rather my reason for dread lies in the treatment of her subject and what it means for mine. Pittenger’s main source for the triumphal debates which are the object of her study is Livy, and Livy is my research project’s source, too. The thing that troubles me, and I’m sure you’ll already know this, dear reader, being much more widely read than myself, is Pittenger’s introduction and its succinct overview of the state of affairs in Livian studies.
You see, my dear reader, scholars of Livy are divided into roughly three camps. Well one of these groups are more-or-less irredeemably hostile to everything in it. This faction concurs entirely with the crusty old cynic, Syme, in the matter of Livy. For Syme, Livy suffers the abominable and unrecoverable sin of not being Tacitus, or his models Sallust and Thucicydes. All three of these writers of course, apparently suffered the same cynical afflictions that benighted Syme, and for that old product of a much later empire, Livy “takes leave of legend only to plunge into fiction.” Such is the state of mind of many in the older generation of classicists, whom are still under Syme’s sway. Only this year, a recently-retired senior faculty member sniffed at me that Livy was rubbish when I mentioned to him my project was based on Livy.
The other two factions, we shall call them the “source” and “text” factions. On one hand, in the “source” faction there are historians, more-or-less, who are prone to a technical approach which concentrates on certain details in small parts of the text — taken out of context of course. Then on the other hand we find the faction of the “text”. This faction loves to describe the complexity of the context but tend to only concentrate on the first ten books, because they read better, not being the rather more mundane annalistic renditions of elections, wars, and political disputes. Of course, by ignoring these later books, the faction of the “text” is ignoring the larger context of Livy’s entire corpus; and ignoring a more “historical” period. In many ways, this latter faction is my own, having been schooled in Livian scholarship by the books of its luminaries such as Gary B. Miles, Christina Kraus, Jane Chaplin, Mary Jaeger and Andrew Feldherr. Oh my grand topic was space and warfare, space-of-warfare and warfare-in-space, or something … monuments! memory! space! time! war! … but sadly, no. Where do I fall in these two camps; I wanted it all; do I need to pick a side or can I, like Pittenger, attempt to bridge both in my project? It’s a seriously mind-numbing decision and I can’t reach a proper conclusion — yet.
I knew the jig had to be up a couple of months ago when I was asked by a really prestigious (stupendously so) visiting professor what the “problem” was I was investigating when we were conversing, over wine in the staff rec room, about my project. Ahhh, the “so what?” question, which I proceeded to flummox about (well we had been drinking wine) and thence deflected onto the much smaller scale of my paper on Horace’s Epode 16 and Livy 5.51-4, which I was going to present at a conference the week after. A small-scale problem, and interesting observation, something that doesn’t sound so grandiose … is that what I need to be concentrating on?
I trust you may understand my dilemma.
di te incolumem custodiant
 Pittenger, Miriam R. Pelikan. 2008, Contested Triumphs: Politics, pageantry, and performance in Livy’s Republican Rome. Berkeley and Los Angeles : Univerisity of California Press.
 Syme, Ronald. 1959. “Livy and Augustus” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 64. pp 27-87.