See P. G. Walsh, Livy: His Historical Aims and Method (1961); T. A. Dorey, ed., Livy (1971).
(born 59/64 BC, Patavium, Venetia—died AD 17, Patavium) Roman historian. Little is known of his life, most of which must have been spent in Rome. His lifework was a history of the city, written in 142 books; Books 11–20 and 46–142 have been lost, and those after Book 45 are known only from fragments and later summaries. Unlike earlier Roman historians, Livy played no part in politics, and as a result he presented history not as partisan politics but in terms of character and morality. The Latin prose style he developed suited his subject matter. His history, a classic in his lifetime, profoundly influenced the style and philosophy of historical writing down to the 18th century.
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Titus Livius (traditionally 59 BC – AD 17), known as Livy in English, was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome, Ab Urbe Condita, from its founding (traditionally dated to 753 BC) through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time.
Livy wrote the majority of his works during the reign of Augustus. However, he is often identified with an attachment to the Roman Republic and a desire for its restoration. Since the later books discussing the end of the Republic and the rise of Augustus did not survive, this is a moot point. Certainly Livy questioned some of the values of the new regime but it is likely that his position was more complex than a simple "republic/empire" preference. Augustus does not seem to have held these views against Livy, and entrusted his great-nephew, the future emperor Claudius, to his tutelage. His effect on Claudius was apparent during the latter's reign, as the emperor's oratory closely adheres to Livy's account of Roman history.
Livy's writing style was poetic and archaic in contrast to Caesar's and Cicero's styles. Also, he often wrote from the Romans' opponent's point of view in order to accent the Romans' virtues in their conquest of Italy and the Mediterranean. In keeping with his poetic tendencies, he did little to distinguish between fact and fiction. Although he frequently plagiarized previous authors, he hoped that moral lessons from the past would serve to advance the Roman society of his day.
Livy's work was originally composed of 142 books, of which only 35 are extant; these are Books 1–10 and 21–45 (with major lacunae in 41 and 43–45). A fragmentary palimpsest of the 91st book was discovered in the Vatican Library in 1772, containing about a thousand words, and several papyrus fragments of previously unknown material, much smaller, have been found in Egypt since 1900, most recently about forty words from Book 11, unearthed in the 1980s. Livy was abridged, in antiquity, to an epitome, which survives for Book 1, but was itself abridged into the so-called Periochae, which is simply a list of contents, but which survives. An epitome of Books 37–40 and 48–55 was also uncovered at Oxyrhynchus. So we have some idea of the topics Livy covered in the lost books, if often not what he said about them.
His sources include the annalists, including Quintus Fabius Pictor, Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, Sempronius Asellio and Valerius Antias, but for events in the east of the Roman Empire also the Greek historian Polybius.
In turn, a number of Roman authors used Livy, including Aurelius Victor, Cassiodorus, Eutropius, Festus, Florus, Granius Licinianus and Orosius. 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. A digression in Book 9, Sections 17–19, suggests that the Romans would have beaten Alexander the Great if he lived longer and turned west to attack the Romans, making this the oldest known alternate history.