Values of a Noble Roman Funeral Procession (According to Polybius)

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In book VI of Polybius’ Histories (53-54), it covers a funeral procession as a form to educate and teach Roman youths. Various values and qualities range throughout this extract, and these values reflect the lives of the ‘Roman Society’, such values would include; Passion, Nobility, Immortality, Excellence, etc. These values of the funeral procession are produced in the text, as a way to ‘inspire’ the youth of Rome. However certain historians are suspicious when it comes to Polybius’ point of view on Roman Society. Historians believe this because of many reasons, which in turn include; being biased in the favour of the Romans, and it is noteworthy to say that Polybius isn’t viewed as a total impartial witness by some historians. Also, it is known by a number of historians that in Book VI of the Histories, Polybius has a number of targeted audiences that included the Greeks as well as Roman youths.

The principal ‘values’ displayed in this extract of the funerary procession are that of Valour and Patriotism. In chapter 54, Polybius confirms the facts that many of the Romans would indeed fight in single combat to decide a battle, of their own free will. Even some when in charge, despite the mos maiorum (customs of the ancestors), would put their own sons to death, showing that the interest of their country is of higher value than that of the bond by nature that ties them to their “nearest and dearest”. Numerous Romans did this simply as a ‘Patriotic’ action to serve their country and empire. It proves that many of them wanted to become popular with not only the masses but also gaining ‘Fame and celebrity’ status, another quality that is highly promoted in the extract by Polybius. He uses this theme quite often throughout the chapters. Polybius reveals this value in the first sentence of the extract, mentioning; “whenever any illustrious man dies”, illustrious being the key word meaning memorable or famous. He also frequently talks of aspiring to fame and...
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