Livy


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Livy

(Titus Livius) (lĭv`ē), 59 B.C.–A.D. 17, Roman historian, b. Patavium (Padua), probably of noble family. He lived most of his life in Rome. The breadth of his education is apparent in his evident familiarity with the ancient Greek and Latin authors. His life work was the History of Rome from its founding in 753 B.C. The narrative comes to an end with Drusus (9 B.C.). Of the original 142 books of the work (published in sections) 35 are extant (Books I–X, XXI–XLV). There are fragments of some others, and all but two are known through epitomes. Livy's history reflects his admiration for the civilization of early Rome, and his belief that the importance of history was its applicability to contemporary life. As such he was a romantic, and not a scientific, historian. His sources included mainly the writings of previous authors, but he does not evaluate these sources critically. He chose what seemed to him most authentic and credible, and presented it with the enthusiasm of a patriot in the form of annals. Livy's accuracy is often questionable; he ignored certain sources and had little practical knowledge of military affairs or the workings of politics. His reputation and popularity are based on his elegant portraits of historical figures, his vivid depictions of events, his freedom of expression, and his masterly style (developed from Cicero). There are many English translations of Livy's history; the best have been published by Penguin Classics.

Bibliography

See P. G. Walsh, Livy: His Historical Aims and Method (1961); T. A. Dorey, ed., Livy (1971).

Livy

 

(Titus Livius) Born 59 B.C. in Patavium; died there A.D. 17. Roman historian.

Livy lived and worked in Rome and enjoyed the protection of the emperor Augustus. He was the author of the History of Rome From Its Foundation, a year by year account of the entire history of the city, beginning with its legendary founding and going to 9 B.C. Out of the 142 books of his History, 35 have been preserved, covering events up to 293 B.C. and from 218 to 168. The contents of the remaining books are known from short summaries and excerpts made while the books were still extant. Livy did not do research in Roman history; rather he expounded on it, uncritically borrowing material from the Roman annalists and Hellenistic authors and taking back to antiquity features of the Roman state structure of his day. Livy did not conceal his intention of exalting Rome. In his philosophical views, he was close to Stoicism. He explained the course of historical events by changes in the underlying morality of society. In his opinion, the way of life and mores of the ancient Romans contributed to the creation of Roman greatness. His History was written rhetorically, in an expansive, picturesque style, with many emotional speeches attributed to historical figures. Both contemporaries and later generations saw in Livy’s work a model of historical writing. The author himself was considered the “Roman Herodotus.”

WORKS

Ab urbe condita libri, vols. 1–10. Commentary by W. Weissenborns and H. J. Müller. Berlin, 1880–1911.
In Russian translation:
Rimskaia istoriia ot osnovaniia goroda, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1897–1901. (Translated from Latin under the editorship of P. Adrianov.)

REFERENCES

Taine, H. Tit Livii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1900. (Translated from French.) Borneque, H. Tite-Live. Paris, 1933.
Walsh, P. G. Livy. Cambridge, 1961.

A. I. NEMIROVSKII

Livy

Latin name Titus Livius. 59 bc--17 ad, Roman historian; of his history of Rome in 142 books, only 35 survive
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