AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Livy, T. (1634). T. Livii Patavini Historiarum ab urbe condita libri I. II: Livy's History of Rome (Part I.) Books I. II. London: J. Weale. Tablettes chronologiques de l'histoire universelle, sacrée et profane, ecclésiastique et civile, depuis la cré


Little is known about the Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy) (55 BC - 17 AD). He was born in Patavium (Padua), North of Italy. Although he was associated with the Emperor Octavius and the future Emperor to be Claudius, he was not a member of the senatorial circles and did not partake in the Roman political affairs. This proved to be an obstacle for his project to write a comprehensive history of Rome, as he was not exposed to primary source material, nor did he have a direct insight into the operations of the Roman governing class. In his magnum opus Ab Urbe Condita (From the Founding of the City), he endeavored to delineate the history of Rome from its foundation around 509 B.C. until the 9th century B.C. While Livy’s history has its shortcomings, it is revered as a pioneer work, not least of which because of its literary Latin prose.  Livy succeeded, through a literary and interpretive narrative, to narrate and reconstruct the genesis and development of a complex city such as Rome, striking a balance between a factual and an interpretive stance. Influenced by Stoic philosophy, Livy attempted a moral interpretation of the past, to be put at the service of future generations as a didactic tool in the service of a better understanding of human nature, and of education towards constructing a better moral life