Livia: Rome's First First Lady
using the Online Companion to The Worlds of Roman Women and
- ability to discuss the relationship of two Latin texts with regard to
content, tone, etc.
- understanding of how our perceptions of an historical woman are
colored by the way she is presented by ancient writers
- ability to analyze how ancient statues, coins and monuments may have
affected the attitudes of the Roman people themselves toward an historical
Part I. Textual Representations:
Using the Online Companion´s World of State, read/translate
Livy AUC 1. 34, 39, 41:
Tanaquil and Tacitus
Annales 1. 3-6: Livia. Then answer the following questions on the
attached sheets (see printable
version of the worksheet in an Adobe Acrobat file):
- What similarities do you see between the character and actions of the
legendary queen Tanaquil as described by Livy and the historical empress Livia
as presented by Tacitus? Be specific in discussing their similar qualities,
actions and effect on the Roman state.
- How does Tacitus in chapter 5. 5-6 draw upon Livy 41 to describe the
actions of Livia after the death of Augustus? Why do you think he did this?
What effect does the strong similarity between the actions of the two women
have on your perception of the literal truth of Tacitus´ account of
- Compare and contrast the tone of the two authors. What is
Livy´s attitude toward Tanaquil? Do you think that Tacitus´
attitude toward Livia is the same or different? Explain by referring to
specific words and phrases chosen by each author to describe the women and
their actions. When reading Tacitus, did you feel that the author was making
judgments about Livia? Why or why not?
Part II. Visual and Material Representations:
Visit the Portico of Livia in Region III of VRoma´s virtual city
of Rome. Connect as a guest by going to the
Web Gateway and clicking
the Login button (leave the password box blank). Proceed to the Portico of
Livia by typing @go Portico of Livia in the Input window on the lower
left of the screen and pressing Enter. You can also get there by clicking on
the exit to Rome at the bottom of the Web window on the right of the
screen, then clicking on Region III in the map, and then clicking on
Porticus Liviae in the map of Region III.
- Explore the Portico, looking at its plan and reading about its
history. What is significant about the location, function, and symbolism of
this site? How do you think the people who frequented this portico would regard
the woman who was its patron?
- Then visit the West Portico by clicking on the exit link.
After looking around, visit the Exhibition by clicking on the sign. Read
the brief life story of Livia and information about allusions to her on coins,
then view her portrait statues and read their descriptions. What impression of
Livia do these give you, and do you think they would have affected the Roman
people in the same way?
- How do these visual representations of Livia differ from the verbal
portrait painted by Tacitus? Do you think it is important to consider visual
and material evidence alongside textual evidence when studying ancient women?
Why or why not?
Submitted by Barbara F. McManus