56 minutes | Jul 16th 2020

Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles

There’s nothing quite like learning that there’s a Roman Achilles! In this episode we get to meet the man behind the legend.

Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles

Before we jump in, let’s find out where things stand. It’s 455 BCE and our narrative sources have put forward the case that the opening up of the Aventine was an important step under the new collective of ten tribunes.

But all is not well on the homefront of Rome. Things get off to a bad start when the consuls try to forcibly raise the levy. The tribunes step up to the plate in defence of the plebeians and we delve into what privileges and powers go along with the position.

What we begin to see is the some of the complex workings of contested public space and the challenges of fighting for your rights with only a small crowd of citizens. As the crowd of disaffected plebeians swells in significance, the new consuls are faced with a dilemma – met with the crowd or remain in the safety of the senate…

How does the tribunicianship operate?

This seems to be a big looming question in our sources. There’s a range of possible activities that an expanded collective can work towards. The capacity to be decisive, to operate on multiple fronts for common goals, to get passionate about taking strong action. It’s intriguing to see how this potential is redirected under the influence of the patricians.

Events to anticipate:
  • The tribunes enter a meeting of the senate
  • A big push for the law about the laws
  • A consular venture to Tusculum to save them from the Aequians
  • A controversial decision about what to do with some of the spoils of war
  • Some clear deviation between the narrative focus of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus
  • A speech from the ‘Roman Achilles’ including mention of the corona aurea
Our Players The Consuls
  • Titus Romilius T. f. T. n. Rocus Vaticanus (Pat)
  • Gaius Veturius P. f. – n. Cicurinus (Pat)
Tribunes of the Plebs
  • L. Icilius
  • L. Alienus
  • + 8 others!
Notable Plebeians
  • Lucius Siccius Dentatus “born with teeth”
Our Sources

Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Rom. Ant. 10.33-39.
Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.31

Looking to brush up of the historical events Dentatus refers to in his speech? You can check out the happenings of 486 BCE here and catch the action of 473 BCE here.

Joseph-Désiré Court 1820 Achilles Introduced to Nestor. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sound Credits

Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta)
Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi