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Prof. Rebecca Langlands (Exeter) No-Win Situations: Roman Heroes and Military Ethics

The heroic, blood-soaked tales of their ancestors intoxicated the youth of ancient Rome, revealing moral truths and inflaming them with desire for virtue. This lecture will argue that such exemplary stories were also used to dramatise ethical dilemmas and encourage Romans to reflect on fundamental moral issues - indeed, they can still serve this purpose today. Roman exempla tend to show people of great courage, virtue and tenacity who face very tough decisions about the best way to respond. We will see how a particularly distressing military situation - the desperate suffering of the besieged city - provided for the ancient Romans a wealth of ethical material inviting us to reflect on what we should value most highly in our lives. CA Southwest Lecture.

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