Rome and Troy


  • Vid Snoj University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts



Roman literature, Horace, Virgil, Rome, Troy


The story of Rome and Troy is a historical myth which developed in ancient Rome. In the search for their origins, the Romans were referred to Troy by a dangerously close other: byGraecia capta, a captive in war yet a conqueror in culture, as she is characterised in Horace’s Letter to Augustus. Indeed, Rome was captured by the arts and skills of such Graeci capti as Livius Andronicus or Polybius. Nevertheless, Horace’s paradox of the captive capturing her captor shows no trace of Roman ambivalence to Hellenism, or of struggle for supremacy and originality. It is only in Virgil that the trace of this struggle becomes apparent. The Aeneid expresses the ambivalence to Hellenism in Anchises’ famous prophecy of Rome’s future greatness, a prophecy related to the story of the Romans’ Trojan origin, which reached Virgil in the form of a fully developed tradition. This prophecy defines the Greeks as those “others” who have invented and perfected many arts and skills, while the only original art allotted to Rome, a second Troy, is the art of ruling. This is an art of maintaining world peace, that is, an art capable of enacting peace, of making it an inner law, a custom, a natural disposition. In this respect, Virgil is “the father of the West” (T. Haecker) since it was he who conceived the dream of a world peace, regardless of whether this dream is linked in western history to his name (as by Dante, V. Solov’ev) or not (I. Kant).


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