Classics 430:
Greek and Roman Mythology
11 March 2002

Heroes of the Republic

I. Brutus and his Sons

1. Brutus and his Sons.
2. Lucius Iunius Brutus (cf. Lucretia story: tyrannicide, first consul): mythologically speaking, a 'real guy.'
3. "Founder of the Roman Republic" (cf. e.g. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, et al.: the idea of a founding fathers for a political system; men who embody or are reduced to archetypal characteristics)
4. Q: what does it say about Rome that the Republicís "founder" was a tyrant-slayer?  (the tyrannicides in Greece as important founders for the democracy)
5. L. Iunius Brutus was alleged ancestor of Marcus Brutus, one of the conspirators against Iulius Caesar [Cicero, "remember your ancestor, Brutus..."]
6. Story of serpent:
a. Prior to revolution, a serpent appears in the kingís palace.
b. Tarquin Suuperbus sents his two sons to the Delphic oracle (!) to inquire
c. Sons took "stupid" Brutus along  for kicks.
d. Oracle: "he who first kisses his mother willsucceed to the highest place in Rome."
e. Sons kiss mother when they return to Rome; Brutus kisses earth.
7. Brutusí sons tried to overthrow new Republic
a. Sons caught, beaten, and killed.  Brutus witnessed the whole thing: loyalty to state overrules loyalty to family.

II. Horatius Cocles

1. Horatius and two men occupy bridge over Tiber to protect Rome from invading Etruscans (who just wonít give up after the expulsion of the kings: cf. Persians / barbarians in Greek myth?)
2.  Romans chop down bridge behind them.  The two soldiers run over bridge before it fell, but Horatius is injured and has to swim back across the Tiber in full armor.

III. Caius Mucius Scaevola

1. Sneaks into Etruscan camp to kill Lars Porsenna, the Etruscan king.
2. Accidentally kills someone else.  Ooops.
3. Brought before king, he swears that he is the first of 300 Romans who will try to kill Porsenna.  Puts right hand in fire and burns it off.  Becomes ëLefty.í
4. Out of respect for his bravery, Lars Porsenna retreats and the Republic stands strong.