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English 2 Lesson 70: Was there any basis for an optimistic view of Rome in Livy and Ovid?

I think the reason we’re asked about the optimistic views of Rome only, not seeing the pessimistic side of Rome, is because Livy had described some details saying that this writing is more poetic than historical writing. It was written more creatively rather than explaining practical points. It’s not necessarily the writing itself that’s in the pessimistic direction, but rather what’s said about these 2 writings that lack that optimistic view. Anyways that was just my little thought there.

Lets begin with how the History of Rome was written around the same time Octavian became the Augustus. The author of this piece of writing, Livy, was born at around 59 B.C. and his passing date was around 14 A.D. These dates aren’t accurate but they were approximately assumed to be of around these times. As for the writing Metamorphoses to which Ovid was the author, whose full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. He lived around 43 B.C. to 18 A.D. He actually wrote this piece of writing after he was banished by the Augustus at around 8 A.D.

In book 1 of History of Rome, we see some of that optimism showing, knowing that this history is out of order and just messed up in general. The way Livy shows this optimism is by telling us that even though people make mistakes we should be learning from them and know what we should do from now on and we shouldn’t do. Another optimism from Livy (I think it’s a pretty obvious one) was the fact that he was relieved that the harder times of Rome have already past. He was glad to be writing and spending time during those peaceful days. He probably had occasional stress just like all people do, but he didn’t have the bigger kind of stress like you would during harder times.

I can imagine how hard it must be, for instance, to just sit down writing documents in a middle of a war. Now that’s probably not true, I don’t know anyone who could have done that. The point I’m trying to imply here, is that the stress that you could be in and on top of that have extra space in your mind to write things down. That’s why it’s no wonder Livy is glad to be living in peaceful times and that the harder days were behind him.

As for, in the Metamorphoses, I think the most simple optimistic viewpoint in this book, was Ovid’s explanation of the Golden age. There were these set of stages that developed in time when the universe was created. The Golden age represented purity and was prosperous. The Golden age itself was a sign of an optimistic view. The rest of the ages were no match to the Golden one and after each age the stages slowly began to lose value. This is important because the Golden age was described as the “perfect” timeline. It’s pretty obvious why Ovid would be optimistic about this part of the book and now you know why.

That’s all for this essay I hope you enjoyed reading it or maybe you learned something from it. I’ll post more soon and have a great rest of your day!

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