Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

John Lobur

Relational Format



This study explores the six foundations in Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory and how they manifest in Livy's History and Augustan policy. Their presence within each of those areas will demonstrate how strongly the foundations were entrenched in Roman culture and may help explain the successful transition from a republic to an empire by examining how these foundations encourage group cohesion. Added to this, this study may also help provide more support for Haidt's theory. Moral Foundations Theory posits that there are six moral foundations of culture that have developed over time, each responding to a unique trigger: Care, Loyalty, Fairness, Authority, Liberty, and Sanctity. With the advent of culture, the way these foundations were triggered changed (i.e. some cultures only trigger some). Roman culture was able to trigger all six, which helped their civilization lasted so long. To explore this I analyzed the first ten books of Livy, finding many episodes in which the foundations were present (the ones presented are those in which the foundations are most prominent). I also looked at the way in which Augustan policy triggered the foundations thereby allowing the Romans to come back together after decades of civil war and aiding him in forming an empire which would last for centuries. The examples presented also display that these foundations are mutually reinforcing, that is several will occur in one situation thus making each other stronger. This study found that the foundations were abundantly present in Roman culture and their presence not only helps confirm Moral Foundations Theory but also allows us to see how Roman culture triggered these foundations.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text

Included in

Classics Commons



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