Titus Livius Patavinus (Classical Latin: [ˈtɪ.tʊs
ˈliː.wi.ʊs]; 64 or 59 BC – AD 12 or 17) – often rendered
Livy /ˈlɪvi/ in
English language sources – was a Roman
historian. He wrote a monumental history of
Rome and the Roman people
– Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Books from the Foundation of the City) –
covering the period from the earliest legends of
Rome before the
traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of
Livy's own lifetime. He was on familiar terms with members of the
Claudian dynasty, advising Augustus's grandnephew, the future
emperor Claudius, as a young man not long before 14 AD in a letter to
take up the writing of history.
3.1 Imperial era
7 Further reading
8 External links
Livy was born Titus Livius in Patavium in northern Italy, now modern
Padua. There is a debate about the year of Titus
Livius' birth, 64 BC or more likely 59 BC (see below). At the time of
his birth, his home city of Patavium was the second wealthiest on the
Italian peninsula, and the largest in the province of Cisalpine Gaul.
In his works,
Livy often expressed his deep affection and pride for
Patavium, and the city was well known for its conservative values in
morality and politics. "He was by nature a recluse, mild in
temperament and averse to violence; the restorative peace of his time
gave him the opportunity to turn all his imaginative passion to the
legendary and historical past of the country he loved."
Livy’s teenage years were during the 40s BC, a period of numerous
civil wars throughout the Roman world. The governor of Cisalpine Gaul
at the time, Asinius Pollio, tried to sway Patavium[when?] into
supporting Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), leader of one of the warring
factions. The wealthy citizens of Patavium refused to contribute money
and arms to Asinius Pollio, and went into hiding. Pollio then
attempted to bribe the slaves of those wealthy citizens to expose the
whereabouts of their masters; his bribery did not work, and the
citizens instead pledged their allegiance to the Senate. It is
therefore likely that the
Roman civil wars prevented
Livy from pursuing a higher education in
Rome or going on a tour of
Greece, which was common for adolescent males of the nobility at the
time. Many years later, Asinius Pollio derisively commented on Livy's
"patavinity", saying that Livy's
Latin showed certain "provincialisms"
frowned on at Rome. Pollio's dig may have been the result of bad
feelings he harboured toward the city of Patavium from his experiences
there during the civil wars.
Titus Livius probably went to
Rome in the 30s BC, and it is likely
that he spent a large amount of time in the city after this, although
it may not have been his primary home. During his time in Rome, he was
never a senator nor held a government position. His writings contain
elementary mistakes on military matters, indicating that he probably
never served in the Roman army. However, he was educated in philosophy
and rhetoric. It seems that
Livy had the financial resources and means
to live an independent life, though the origin of that wealth is
unknown. He devoted a large part of his life to his writings, which he
was able to do because of his financial freedom.
Livy was known to give recitations to small audiences, but he was not
heard of to engage in declamation, then a common pastime. He was
familiar with the emperor
Augustus and the imperial family. Augustus
was considered by later Romans to have been the greatest Roman
emperor, benefiting Livy’s reputation long after his death.
Suetonius described how
Livy encouraged the future emperor Claudius,
who was born in 10 BC, to explore the writing of history during his
Livy himself was married and had at least one daughter
and one son.
Livy’s most famous work was his history of Rome. In it he narrates a
complete history of the city of Rome, from its foundation to the death
of Augustus. Because he was writing under the reign of Augustus,
Livy’s history emphasizes the great triumphs of Rome. He wrote
his history with embellished accounts of Roman heroism in order to
promote the new type of government implemented by
Augustus when he
became emperor. In Livy’s preface to his history, he said that
he did not care whether his personal fame remained in darkness, as
long as his work helped to "preserve the memory of the deeds of the
world’s preeminent nation". Because
Livy was mostly writing
about events that had occurred hundreds of years earlier, the
historical value of his work was questionable, although many Romans
came to believe his account to be true. He also produced other
works, including an essay in the form of a letter to his son, and
numerous dialogues, most likely modelled on similar works by
Titus Livius died in his home city of Patavium in either (see below)
AD 12 or 17; the latter would have been three years after the death of
the emperor Augustus.
Main article: Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Livy)
Ab Urbe condita (1715)
Livy's only surviving work is the "
History of Rome" (Ab Urbe Condita),
which was his career from an age in middle life, probably 32, until he
Padua in old age, probably in the reign of Tiberius
after the death of Augustus. When he began this work he was already
past his youth; presumably, events in his life prior to that time had
led to his intense activity as a historian.
Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger gives
brief mention that he was also known as an orator and philosopher and
had written some treatises in those fields from a historical point of
Rome was in high demand from the time it was
published and remained so during the early years of the empire. Pliny
the Younger reported that Livy's celebrity was so widespread, a man
Cadiz travelled to
Rome and back for the sole purpose of meeting
him. Livy's work was a source for the later works of Aurelius
Victor, Cassiodorus, Eutropius, Festus, Florus,
Granius Licinianus and
Julius Obsequens used Livy, or a source with access to Livy,
to compose his De Prodigiis, an account of supernatural events in Rome
from the consulship of Scipio and Laelius to that of Paulus Fabius and
Quintus Aelius.
Livy wrote during the reign of Augustus, who came to power after a
civil war with generals and consuls claiming to be defending the Roman
Republic, such as Pompey. Patavium had been pro-Pompey. To clarify his
status, the victor of the civil war, Octavian Caesar, had wanted to
take the title
Romulus (the first king of Rome) but in the end
accepted the senate proposal of Augustus. Rather than abolishing the
republic, he adapted it and its institutions to imperial rule.
The historian Tacitus, writing about a century after Livy's time,
described the Emperor
Augustus as his friend. Describing the trial of
Tacitus represents him as defending himself
face-to-face with the frowning
Tiberius as follows:
"I am said to have praised
Brutus and Cassius, whose careers many have
described and no one mentioned without eulogy. Titus Livius,
pre-eminently famous for eloquence and truthfulness, extolled Cneius
Pompeius in such a panegyric that
Augustus called him Pompeianus, and
yet this was no obstacle to their friendship."
Livy's reasons for returning to
Padua after the death of
he did) are unclear, but the circumstances of Tiberius' reign
certainly allow for speculation.
Titus Livius by Andrea Briosco (c. 1567)
During the Middle Ages, interest in
Livy declined because Western
scholars were more focused on religious texts. Due to the length
of the work, the literate class was already reading summaries rather
than the work itself, which was tedious to copy, expensive, and
required a lot of storage space. It must have been during this period,
if not before, that manuscripts began to be lost without replacement.
Renaissance was a time of intense revival; the population
discovered that Livy's work was being lost and large amounts of money
changed hands in the rush to collect Livian manuscripts. The poet
Beccadelli sold a country home for funding to purchase one manuscript
copied by Poggio.
Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V launched a search
for the now missing books.
Laurentius Valla published an amended text
initiating the field of
Dante speaks highly of him
in his poetry, and
Francis I of France
Francis I of France commissioned extensive artwork
treating Livian themes; Niccolò Machiavelli's work on republics, the
Discourses on Livy is presented as a commentary on the
Rome. Respect for
Livy rose to lofty heights.
Walter Scott reports in
Waverley (1814) as an historical fact that a Scotchman involved in the
first Jacobite uprising of 1715 was recaptured (and executed) because,
having escaped, he yet lingered near the place of his captivity in
"the hope of recovering his favorite Titus Livius."
Modern historians have developed their own views of
Livy and his place
in the ancient world, which were not current in ancient times. For
example, one text on western civilization pronounces: "
Livy was the
prose counterpart of Vergil," as both have been standard in the study
Latin was not known as
such in classical times and the ancient reader could choose from a
vastly larger bibliography; but, in fact, private reading was a
privilege of the literate few, who had the wealth to buy manuscripts
or have them copied and had the time for library research. Public
readings of works, however, were common and the usual method in which
an author became known.
Livy was likely born between 64 and 59 B.C. and died sometime between
A.D. 12 to 17. He started his work sometime between 31 B.C. and 25
St. Jerome says that
Livy was born the same year as Marcus
Valerius Messala Corvinus and died the same year as Ovid. Messala,
however, was born earlier, in 64 BC, and Ovid's death, usually taken
to be the same year as Livy's, is more uncertain. As an alternative
Ronald Syme argues for 64 BC – 12 AD as a range for Livy,
setting the death of
Ovid at 12. A death date of 12, however,
Livy from Augustus' best years and makes him depart for Padua
without the good reason of the second emperor, Tiberius, being not as
tolerant of his republicanism. The contradiction remains.
The authority supplying information from which possible vital data on
Livy can be deduced is
Eusebius of Caesarea, a bishop of the early
Christian Church. One of his works was a summary of world history in
ancient Greek, termed the Chronikon, dating from the early 4th century
AD. This work was lost except for fragments (mainly excerpts), but not
before it had been translated in whole and in part by various authors
such as St. Jerome. The entire work survives in two separate
manuscripts, Armenian and Greek (Christesen and Martirosova-Torlone
St. Jerome wrote in Latin. Fragments in Syriac exist.
Eusebius' work consists of two books: the Chronographia, a summary of
history in annalist form, and the Chronikoi Kanones, tables of years
St. Jerome translated the tables into
Latin as the
Chronicon, probably adding some information of his own from unknown
sources. Livy's dates appear in Jerome's Chronicon.
The main problem with the information given in the manuscripts is
that, between them, they often give different dates for the same
events or different events, do not include the same material entirely,
and reformat what they do include. A date may be in Ab Urbe Condita or
in Olympiads or in some other form, such as age. These variations may
have occurred through scribal error or scribal license. Some material
has been inserted under the aegis of Eusebius.
The topic of manuscript variants is a large and specialized one, on
which authors of works on
Livy seldom care to linger. As a result,
standard information in a standard rendition is used, which gives the
impression of a standard set of dates for Livy. There are no such
dates. A typical presumption is of a birth in the 2nd
year of the 180th
Olympiad and a death in the first year of the 199th
Olympiad, which are coded 180.2 and 199.1 respectively. All
sources use the same first Olympiad, 776/775–773/772 BC by the
modern calendar. By a complex formula (made so by the 0 reference
point not falling on the border of an Olympiad), these codes
correspond to 59 BC for the birth, 17 AD for the death. In another
manuscript the birth is in 180.4, or 57 BC.
^ "Livy." A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press,
2015. > Oxford Reference
^ Foster 1874, p. xii, citing Suetonius, Claudius, xli.
^ a b
Livy 1998, ix.
^ Aubrey de Sélincourt, translator (1978). Livy: The
History of Early
Rome. The Easton Press. Norwalk Connecticut: Collector’s Edition.
Livy 1998, ix–x.
^ Hazel, John. Who's Who in the Roman World. Routledge, 2001. Who's
Who Series. EBSCOhost,
^ a b
Livy 1998, x.
^ Suetonius, Life of
Claudius 41.1[full citation needed]
^ Payne, Robert (1962), The Roman Triumph, London: Robert Hale,
p. 38 .
^ Dudley, Donald R (1970), The Romans: 850 BC – AD 337, New York:
Alfred A Knopf, p. 19 .
^ Feldherr, Andrew (1998), Spectacle and Society in Livy’s History,
London: University of California Press, p. ix .
^ Heichelheim, Fritz Moritz (1962), A
History of the Roman People,
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, p. 47 .
Livy 1998, xi.
^ Seneca the Younger. "Letter 100, 9". Moral Letters to Lucilius.
Livy wrote both dialogues (which should be ranked as history no
less than as philosophy), and works which professedly deal with
philosophy. (...scripsit enim et dialogos, quos non magis
philosophiae adnumerare possis quam historiae, et ex professo
philosophiam continentis libros)
^ Pliny the Younger, Epistles, II.3.
^ Tacitus, Annales IV.34.
^ a b Foster 1874, p. xxiv.
^ Sir Walter Scott, Waverley, Chap. 6.
^ Harrison, John Baugham; Sullivan, Richard Eugene (1971). A short
history of Western civilization (3 ed.). Knopf. p. 198.
^ a b "
St. Jerome (Hieronymus): Chronological Tables – for Olympiads
170 to 203 [= 100 BC – 36 AD]". Attalus. Retrieved 14 August
Livy & Kraus 1994, p. 1, citing several articles by Syme.
^ Fotheringham 1905, p. 1.
^ Livius, Titus (1881). Seeley, John Robert, ed. Livy. Book 1. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-86292-296-8.
Foster, B.O. (2008) , Livy, Trollope Press,
Livy (1998), The Rise of Rome, Books 1–5, trans. TJ Luce, Oxford:
Oxford University Press .
Livy (1994), Kraus, Christina Shuttleworth, ed., Ab vrbe condita, Book
VI, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Chaplin, J. D. (2000). Livy’s Exemplary History. Oxford: Oxford
Damon, C. (1997). "From Source to Sermo: Narrative Technique in Livy
34.54.4-8." The American Journal of Philology, 118(2), 251-266.
Davies, J. P. (2004). Rome's Religious History. Livy,
Ammianus on their Gods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dorey, T. A., ed. (1971). Livy. London: Routledge.
Feldherr, A. (1998). Spectacle and Society in Livy’s History.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony, eds. (2003), The Oxford
Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press,
ISBN 978-0-19-860641-3 .
Joplin, P. K. (1990). "Ritual Work on Human Flesh: Livy’s Lucretia
and the Rape of the Body Politic." Helios 17.1: 51–70.
Kraus, C. S., and Anthony J. Woodman. (1997).
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 51–81.
Levene, D. S. (2010).
Livy on the Hannibalic War. Oxford: Oxford
Linderski, J. (1993). Roman Religion in Livy. In Livius: Aspekte
seines Werkes. Edited by Wolfgang Schuller, 53–70. Konstanz:
Miles, G. B. (1995). Livy: Reconstructing Early Rome. Ithaca: Cornell
Moore, T. J. (1989). Artistry and Ideology: Livy’s Vocabulary of
Virtue. Frankfurt: Athenäum.
Rossi, A. (2004). "Parallel Lives: Hannibal and Scipio in Livy’s
Third Decade." Transactions of the American Philological Association
Syme, R. (1959).
Livy and Augustus. Harvard Studies in Classical
Vandiver, E. (1999). The Founding Mothers of Livy’s Rome: The Sabine
Women and Lucretia. In The Eye Expanded: Life and the Arts in
Greco-Roman Antiquity. Edited by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F.
Moorton Jr., 206–232. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Walsh, P. G. (1961). Livy: His Historical Aims and Methods. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Livy
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
For links to the surviving works of
Latin and English, see Ab
Urbe Condita Libri (Livy).
Livy at Perseus Digital Library
Livy at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Livy at Internet Archive
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Lendering, Jona (2006–2009). "
Livy (1): Life". Livius Articles on
Ancient History. Livius.org. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
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