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Mentioning one of the fresocoes  of the Ludinese Parliamentary chambers to Aelianus I was astonished of him not being immediately able to give me the full reference verbatim. Here it is:

That same year, as the result of an earthquake or some other violent upheaval, it is said that the middle of the Forum or thereabouts collapsed, leaving a huge chasm of enormous depth. The abyss could not be filled by throwing in the earth which everyone brought, until a warning from the Gods started the people wondering what was the chief strength of the Roman people; for that was what the soothsayers declared must be offered up to the place, if they wished the Roman Republic to endure forever. At this time (as the story goes) Marcus Curtius, a young man of great military distinction, rebuked those who doubted whether Rome had any greater asset than her arms and valour. In the silence which followed he looked up to the temples of the immortal Gods which tower over the Forum and the Capital, and stretching out his hands now to the heavens, now to the yawning gulf in the ground and the Gods of the underworld, he devoted himself to death. He then mounted a horse caparisoned with all possible splendour and plunged fully armed into the chasm. A crowd of men and women then threw piles of offerings and fruits of the earth in after him. Curtius’s pool was named after him, it is said.

(Livy, VII 6)

As a reminder: In Udine, Marcus Curtius is depicted next to Cato: one giving his live to ensure the existence of the Roman Republic, one to end his life rather than seeing it ending. Would today’s proponents of democracy use quite the same examples?

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