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Lesser Known Figures of the Roman Republic

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Reading through any of the ancient sources can remind us that Rome's "history" (in quotes because sometimes that history reads like a good novel) is filled not just with the very famous who stand at the front, but also of more shadowy figures.


Let me give some examples of lesser-talked about Romans that stand out for me. Feel free to disagree, or, add your own.


Pubius Decius Mus, who in the battle of Sentinum rode into the enemy force in a devotio to the gods. 

Cornelia Scipionis, who gets overshadowed by her two sons, but so amazing she received a marriage proposal from Ptolemy VIII of Egypt .

Octavia, sister to Octavian Augustus, who raised not only her children from her first marriage, but those of Antony and his previous wife, and of Antony and Cleopatra. 

Hortensia, daughter of a famous orator, who stood up to the Triumvirate at risk to her property and possibly her life.

Busa, a woman of Apulia of such wealth that she was able to provide re-supply to Rome's legions after Cannae.


Academic histories of the applicable periods don't always say much, or anything at all, about these individuals, but one can find some references if one searches carefully.

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Indeed, often such persons are only studied in passing or in limited articles, often old ones too. You may read a book I reviewed for this site a few years ago, that talks about second rank politicians of the 1st century BC (http://www.unrv.com/book-review/questioning-reputations.php) but they remain "famous" when compared to many. 


The issue for many of the almost unknown characters of roman history you mention is the fact that so little survives about them so that we often have no more than one or two anecdotes, two or three lines or maybe a paragraph of Livius or another source. Then such characters become relagated to compendiums of curios, and lost to most peoples

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