In ancient roman culture, being a man entailed much more than a difference in genitalia. In many ancient civilizations, a patriarchy was the main way to govern its citizens. Men were responsible for earning money, making decisions that could affect their household and/or their community, and fighting in battles that would inevitably change roman history. Ones reputation within their community would either make or break their ability to achieve certain goals in life. Whether it was to become a new merchant in the market, or to lead troops on their next expedition, a mans virtue controlled his fate. Many writers, such as Cicero, Augustus, and Virgil, found themselves defining virtue through their use of words and descriptions of their
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Cicero displays virtue in all of his Philippic’s against Marc Antony by having courage and standing up for what he believes in, unafraid of a possible death sentence. Virtue was a huge deciding factor in Rome. When Julius Caesar was assassinated, his acta named Octavian his adopted son and recipient of his power. Caesar gave his influence to Octavian rather than Marc Antony because of the difference in virtue the two men had. Marc Antony had very little virtue; he was bankrupted more than once, he was known as a partier, he made unfair decisions and was dictator-like while he was consul, and after he lost his power in Rome, he fled to Egypt with Cleopatra and committed suicide. Octavian, on the other hand, made many positive decisions that changed many men’s way of living; he displays every aspect of virtue after taking power. Octavian did not cheat on his wife after getting married to her (self-control), he gave tax incentives to couples who stayed faithful to each other (prudence and justice), and in the Battle of Actium, he did not flee, instead he stayed and fought against Marc Antony and won (courage).
As previously mentioned, having a good reputation meant everything to the men of ancient Rome. However, achieving the goal of a good reputation takes time and willingness. A man must prove to his peers his manliness and maturity in certain situations. For example, if war breaks out a man must prove his loyalty to his nation by helping out with