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Roman Manliness: "Virtus" and the Roman Republic Hardcover – July 3, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0521827881 ISBN-10: 0521827884

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521827884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521827881
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,085,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'For historians, therefore, the study of ethics is now the study of a basic building block of the Greek and Roman world, and McDonnell ... [has] made a major contribution to the field.' The Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

This book examines the public and the most important aspect of Roman masculinity: Manliness as represented by the concept of virtus. Using traditional historical, philological, and archaeological analyses, together with the methods of socio-linguistics and gender studies, it presents a comprehensive picture of how Roman manliness developed from the middle to the late Republic. Arguing that virtus was not, in essence, a moral concept, Myles McDonnell shows how the semantic range of the word, together with the manly ideal that it embodied, were altered by Greek cultural ideas; and how Roman manliness was contested in the religion, culture, and politics of the late Republic.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stewart on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
The recent works of gender scholars have rightly shown that Roman masculine self-fashioning had been in flux long before the Christianization of the Later Empire. Several studies have pointed to the eras of the Late Republic and the Early Empire as precarious and influential periods in the history of Roman masculinity. It is during these centuries that scholars see an important modification in the way many Romans cultivated a sense of idealised manhood. In Roman Manliness: Virtus and the Roman Republic, Myles McDonnell examines the changing usage of the term virtus from the Early to the Late Roman Republic. M's study offers some intriguing insights on developments that would continue to reverberate well into Late Antiquity. Foremost of these changes is McDonnell's idea that this period saw a decline in martial virtues as a key component of a Roman man's masculine identity. For McDonnell, the public notion of manliness as represented by the concept of "virtus" embodied the most important aspect of Roman masculinity in the Republic. Using traditional historical, philological, and archaeological analysis, combined with socio-linguistics and gender studies, he looks at how and why Roman manliness developed as it did from the Middle to the Late Republican period.
He proposes--none too radically-- that the Romans of the Republic believed that they were successful because they were better men. More controversial is his proposal that, until the first-century BCE, virtus served as a non-ethical concept used primarily to express the idea of "physical courage" in battle.
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