Stories about brothers were central to Romans' public and poetic myth making, to their experience of family life, and to their ideas about intimacy among men. Through the analysis of literary and legal representations of brothers, Cynthia Bannon attempts to re-create the context and contradictions that shaped Roman ideas about brothers. She draws together expressions of brotherly love and rivalry around and idealized notion of fraternity - fraternal pietas - the traditional Roman virtue that combined affection and duty in kinship. Romans believed that the relationship between brothers was especially close since their natural kinship made them nearly alter egos. Because of this special status, the fraternal relationship became a model for Romans of relationships between friends, lovers, and soldiers.