This essay aims to redefine the place of the Camenae within the evolution of Roman carmen. It analyses the documented association of the purifying fons Camenarum with the cult of Vesta and by extension with the salvific prayer-carmina of her virgines; and it takes the Camenae from the archaic origins of their cult, with reflections on Etruscan and other territorial interests, to their appearance in the epic laudes of men in the third and second centuries BC. The identification of Camenae and Muses, it is argued, pre-dates Livius Andronicus' “Camena,” and is best understood as a component of the Numa-legend as it emerged towards the end of the fourth century. Pythagorean Muse-cult, reflecting the Muses' traditional interest in civic homonoia (concord) and law-making kings, played a part; and an agent of change was the reformist Appius Claudius Caecus, author of the first attested Roman carmen. The wider context lies in the cultural interplay of Rome, Etruria, and Greek southern Italy in the early and middle Republic.

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