Article

Livy

David Levene

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0136
Livy

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Livy (Titus Livius) was born in (probably) 59 bc, in Patavium (the modern Padua); he died in (probably) ad 17. Little is known of his life; he is not attested as having held any political or military office. Later sources mention his acquaintance with the imperial family: he is said to have been on good terms with the emperor Augustus and to have encouraged the future emperor Claudius to study history. Although he is attested as having written on other topics, his reputation in the 21st century, as in Antiquity, rests on his vast 142-volume history of Rome from its foundation to his own time. Approximately a quarter survives virtually intact: Books 1–10 and 21–45 (though sections of Books 41, 43, 44, and 45 are lost); they are clearly structured in blocks of five books (known as “pentads”) and ten books (“decades”). The contents of the remainder are known from a variety of indirect sources, above all the so-called Periochae, a brief summary of all but two of the books of the history. Livy’s monumental work formed the standard narrative of the Roman republic for all later generations; it is written from a strongly patriotic perspective, focusing on the development of Roman institutions and the growth of Roman power. In the past most scholars saw the core of the history as a simple celebration of Rome; however, much modern scholarship has emphasized the complex and ambivalent morality that underlies the celebration, since a narrative of moral decline sits side by side with the growth of empire, and surprisingly few of Livy’s protagonists live up wholeheartedly to the virtuous traditions embodied by the city.

Article.  11234 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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