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Pietas was one of the Roman virtues, along with gravitas and dignitas. Pietas is usually translated as "duty" or "devotion," and it simultaneously suggests duty to the gods and duty to family - particularly to the father (which is expanded to duty to the community and duty to the state thanks to the analogy between the family and the state, conventional in the ancient world – see, for example, Plato's Crito). Virgil's hero Aeneas embodies this virtue, and is particularly emblematic of it in book II of the Aeneid when he flees burning Troy bearing his father, who carries the household gods, on his back.

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