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Livy’s History of Rome recounts Rome’s history from its mythical founding (ca. 735 BC) to the reign of Augustus in Livy’s own day. The Latin title, Ab urbe condita libri, translates literally to “Books since the city’s founding.” Though History was originally a 142-book project, only about 35 books, roughly 25%, survived history. The style of the work shifts between a basic chronology of events and leaders and a more narrative style. Books 1–10 and 21–30 have become paradigmatic examples of Golden Age Latin.
Livy’s History of Rome contains, in 28 volumes, all of Livy’s existing works in their Loeb Classical Library editions. Each text is included in its original Latin with an English translation for side-by-side comparison. Use Logos’ language tools to go deeper into the Latin text and explore Livy’s elegance. Use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words used by the translator. If you are at all interested in the study of rhetoric, philosophy, or Latin, Livy’s History of Rome is a must.
Titus Livius Patavinus or Livy (59 BC to AD 17) was born in Patavium (modern-day Padua, Italy). He grew up during the Roman civil wars, which kept him from completing advanced education. He went to Rome some time in his 20s and began to write and speak. Educated in philosophy and rhetoric, Livy never held public office or a position in the military. He was independently wealthy, which allowed him time to write. Following Augustus’ defeat of Mark Antony, Livy began writing a history of Rome from its ancient (largely mythological) foundations to his own time and the rule of Augustus. Livy tended to exaggerate the heroicism of Rome in order to support Augustus’ attempts to establish himself as the emperor of Rome.