The Full Wiki

Titus Livius: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Livy article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Titus Livius (fictitious portrait)
Born ca. 59 BC
Died ca. AD 17
Occupation historian
Genres History
Subjects History, biography, oratory
Literary movement Golden Age of Latin

Titus Livius (59 BC – AD 17), known as Livy in English, was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time. He was on familiar terms with the Julio-Claudian family, advising Augustus' grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, as a young man not long before AD 14 in a letter to take up the writing of history.[1] Livy and Augustus' wife, Livia, were from the same clan in different locations, although not related by blood.





The authority supplying the information from which possible vital data on Livy can be deduced is Eusebius of Caesaria, an early Christian-era bishop. One of his works was a summary of world history in ancient Greek, termed the Chronikon, dating from the early 4th century. 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 Armenian. St. Jerome wrote in Latin. Fragments in Syriac exist.[2]

Eusebius' work consists of two books, the Chronographia, a summary of history in annalist form, and the Chronikoi Kanones, tables of years and events. 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 MSS 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 AUC 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.[3] 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.[4]

Jerome says that Livy was born the same year as Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus and died the same year as Ovid.[3] 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 view, Ronald Syme argues for 64 BC-12 AD as a range for Livy, setting the death of Ovid at 12.[5] A death date of 12, however, removes 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; there is no non-speculative solution.


According to Jerome and numerous other sources, Livy was a native of Patavium, the modern Padua.[3] Going by name, he belonged to the Livia gens, or family, but no agnomen has survived. His works show that he was educated in oratory and Greek, which is an indicator of rank, although the Livii were of plebeian origin. Patavium was of multi-ethnic origin (but Livius is a good Roman name) and did not become a Roman municipium until 49 BC. Livy was ten years old then. The Patavians were enrolled in the Fabii,[6] but perhaps not Romans who already had a good name, as Livy kept his and without agnomen. Whether the fact that the emperor Augustus' much loved and respected wife, Livia, was born into the Roman branch of the Livia gens, had anything to do with Augustus' tolerance of Livy's republican views is not known.

Various authors testify that Livy married and had children. Quintilian gives a fragment of a letter from Livy to his son.[7] The same son became a writer considered an authority by Pliny the Elder in Books V and VI of Natural History. Seneca the Elder mentions a son-in-law, Lucius Magius.[8] Two epitaphs from Padua are considered relevant: CIL V 2975 commemorates Titus Livius, son of Gaius, his two sons: Titus Livius Priscus and Titus Livius Longus, as well as Livy's wife, Cassia;[9] and CIL V 2865, marking the resting place of a freedman of Livia Quarta, daughter of Titus Livius. Evidently the Livii of Padua continued to reside there and one must presume that after sojourns elsewhere they came home to die.

At some time early in his career Livy moved to Rome, probably for his education. A few references in Book I suggest he was at Rome at or prior to 27 BC, when he began work on his History of Rome.[10][11] It would have been in Rome also that he had or overheard a conversation with Augustus, who did not acquire that title until 27 BC.[12] In that year, if born in 59 BC, Livy was 32.


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 left Rome for Padua in old age, probably after the death of Augustus in the reign of Tiberius. 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 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 view.[13]


Livy's History of Rome was in demand from the publication of the first packet. Livy became so famous that a man from Cadiz travelled to Rome just to see him, and once he had seen, returned home.[14] The popularity of the work continued through the entire classical period. 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.

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. He did not abolish the republic de facto but adapted its institutions into the empire.

Livy's enthusiasm for the republic is evident from the first pentade of his work, and yet the Julio-Claudian family (the imperial family) were as much fans of Livy as anyone. He could not have been an advocate of any sort of sedition in favor of restoring the republic; he would have been put on trial for treason and executed, as many had been and would be. He must have been viewed as a harmless and relevant advocate of the ancient morality, which was a known public stance of the citizens of Patavium. His relationship to Augustus is defined primarily by a passage from Tacitus[15] in which Cremutius Cordus is put on trial for his life for offenses no worse than Livy's and defends 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.

To avoid conviction, while waiting for a verdict Cordus committed suicide by self-starvation. His worst fears were realized in absentia: his books were sentenced to be burned by the aediles, but they performed the task without zeal and many escaped. Livy's reasons for returning to Padua after the death of Augustus (if he did) are unclear, but the circumstances of Tiberius' reign certainly allow for speculation.

During the Middle Ages interest in Livy fell off.[16] Due to the length of the work the literate class were 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 MSS began to be lost without replacement.

The Renaissance was a time of intense revival; the population discovered that Livy was being lost and large amounts of money changed hands in the rush to collect Livy manuscripts. The poet, Beccadelli, sold a country home for the money to purchase one manuscript copied by Poggio.[17] Petrarch and Pope Nicholas V launched a search for the now missing books. Laurentius Valla published an emended text initiating the field of Livy scholarship. Dante speaks highly of him in his poetry, and 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 History of Rome. Respect for Livy rose to lofty heights.

After a few hundred years of Livy being studied by the youth of every Western population, moderns 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 of Golden Age Latin literature.[18] Golden Age 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 were the main way in which an author became known.


  1. ^ Foster (1874), p. xii, citing Suetonius, Claudius, xli.
  2. ^ Fotheringham (1905), P. 1.
  3. ^ a b c "St. Jerome ( Hieronymus ): Chronological Tables - for Olympiads 170 to 203 [= 100 B.C. - 36 A.D."]. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Livius, Titus; Seeley, John Robert (Contributor) (1881). Livy, Book 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 1. 
  5. ^ Kraus (1994), p.1, citing several articles by Syme.
  6. ^ Foster (1874), pp. ix-x.
  7. ^ Foster (1874), p. xii, citing Quintilian VIII.2.18.
  8. ^ Foster (1874) p. xiii, citing Seneca, Controversiae, X.Preface.2.
  9. ^ Foster (1874), pp. xii-xiii.
  10. ^ Livius, Titus. "I.4". History of Rome. "Within the last ten years we appointed decemvirs to commit the laws to writing and then we abolished their office." 
  11. ^ Livius, Titus. "I.8". History of Rome. "I think that they anticipated what actually happened, that the influence of those who held the office would soon enhance its authority and dignity." 
  12. ^ Livius, Titus. "IV.20". History of Rome. "Augustus Caesar, the founder and restorer of all the temples, rebuilt the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which had fallen to ruin through age, and I once heard him say that after entering it he read that inscription on the linen cuirass with his own eyes." 
  13. ^ Seneca the Younger. "Letter 41.9". Moral Letters to Lucilius. "...for Livy wrote both dialogues (which should be ranked as history no less than as philosophy), and works which professedly deal with philosophy." 
  14. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistles, II.3.
  15. ^ Annales IV.34.
  16. ^ Foster (1874), p. xxiv.
  17. ^ Foster (1874), p. xxiv.
  18. ^ Harrison, John Baugham; Sullivan, Richard Eugene (1971). A short history of Western civilization (3 ed.). Knopf. p. 198. 


  • Foster, B.O. (2008) [1874]. Livy. Trollope Press. 
  • Livy; Christina Shuttleworth Kraus (Editor) (1994). Ab vrbe condita Book VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Additional reading

  • Dorey, T.A., ed. (1971), Livy (London & Toronto: Routledge & K. Paul) 
  • Fotheringham, John Knight (1905). The Bodleian Manuscript of Jerome's Version of the Chronicles of Eusebius. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 
  • Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony, eds (2003). The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198606413. 
  • Kraus, C. S.; Woodman, A. J. (2006). Latin Historians. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199222933. 
  • Syme, Ronald (1959). "Livy and Augustus". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 64: 27–87.  Also in Badian, E., ed. (1979), Roman Papers (Oxford: Oxford University Press) I: pp. 400–454 .
  • Walsh, P.G. (1966), Dorey, Thomas Alan; Thompson, E.A., eds., "Ch 5 Livy", Latin Historians, Studies in Latin Literature and its Influence (London: Routledge & K. Paul): pp. 115–142 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Livy article)

From Wikiquote

He is truly a man who will not permit himself to be unduly elated when fortune’s breeze is favorable, or cast down when it is adverse.

Titus Livius (around 59 BC - 17 AD), known as Livy in English, wrote a monumental history of Rome, Ab Urbe Condita, from its founding (traditionally dated to 753 BC) through the reign of Augustus.



  • Aetolos Acarnanas Macedonas, eiusdem linguae homines, leues ad tempus ortae causae diiungunt coniunguntque: cum alienigenis, cum barbaris aeternum omnibus Graecis bellum est eritque; natura enim, quae perpetua est, non mutabilibus in diem causis hostes sunt...
    • Translation: The Aitolians, the Akarnanians, the Macedonians, men of the same speech, are united or disunited by trivial causes that arise from time to time; with aliens, with barbarians, all Greeks wage and will wage eternal war; for they are enemies by the will of nature, which is eternal, and not from reasons that change from day to day...
    • Liber XXXI, 29, 15


  • Rome has grown since its humble beginnings that it is now overwhelmed by its own greatness.
    • Praefatio, sec. 4
  • We can endure neither our vices nor the remedies for them.
    • Praefatio, sec. 9
  • This above all makes history useful and desirable: it unfolds before our eyes a glorious record of exemplary actions.
    • Praefatio, sec. 10
  • Sic deinde, quicumque alius transiliet moenia mea!
    • Translation: And so be damned, whomever shall jump over my walls!
    • Book I, sec. 7
    • Spoken when Romulus slew his brother Remus for jumping over the walls of his encampment (soon to be Rome) in mockery.
  • The old Romans all wished to have a king over them because they had not yet tasted the sweetness of freedom.
    • Book I, sec. 17
  • Before anything else [Numa] decided that he must instill in his subjects the fear of the gods, this being the most effective measure with an ignorant, and at that time uncultured, people.
    • Book I, sec. 19
  • Law is a thing which is insensible, and inexorable, more beneficial and more profitious to the weak than to the strong; it admits of no mitigation nor pardon, once you have overstepped its limits.
    • Book II, sec. 3
  • Shared danger is the strongest of bonds; it will keep men united in spite of mutual dislike and suspicion.
    • Book II, sec. 39
  • Fame opportunely despised often comes back redoubled.
    • Book II, sec. 47
  • From abundance springs satiety.
    • Book III, sec. 1
  • The troubles which have come upon us always seem more serious than those which are only threatening.
    • Book III, sec. 39
  • Passions are generally roused from great conflict.
    • Book III, sec. 40
  • Nature has ordained that the man who is pleading his own cause before a large audience, will be more readily listened to than he who has no object in view other than the public benefit.
    • Book III, sec. 68
  • Resistance to criminal rashness comes better late than never.
    • Book IV, sec. 3
  • Potius sero quam numquam.
    • Translation: Better late than never.
    • Book IV, sec. 23
  • In valor you are their equals; in necessity, the last and strongest weapon, their superiors.
    • Book IV, sec. 28
  • There is nothing man will not attempt when great enterprises hold out the promise of great rewards.
    • Book IV, sec. 35
  • Favor and honor sometimes fall more fitly on those who do not desire them.
    • Book IV, sec. 57
  • Toil and pleasure, dissimilar in nature, are nevertheless united by a certain natural bond.
    • Book V, sec. 4
  • There are laws for peace as well as war.
    • Book V, sec. 27
  • Fortune blinds men when she does not wish them to withstand the violence of her onslaughts.
    • Book V, sec. 37
  • Vae victis!
    • Translation: Woe to the vanquished!
    • Variant: Woe to the conquered!
    • Book V, sec. 48
  • No one wants to be excelled by his relatives.
    • Book VI, sec. 34
  • The result showed that fortune helps the brave.
    • Book VIII, sec. 29
  • Envy like fire always makes for the highest points.
    • Book VIII, sec. 31
  • They are more than men at the outset of their battles; at the end they are less than the women.
    • Book X, sec. 28
  • Luck is of little moment to the great general, for it is under the control of his intellect and his judgment.
    • Book XXII, sec. 25
  • He would not anticipate those counsels which are rather bestowed by circumstances on men, than by men on circumstances.
    • Book XXII, sec. 38
  • He will have true glory who despises it.
    • Book XXII, sec. 39
  • Truth, they say, is but too often in difficulties, but is never finally suppressed.
    • Book XXII, sec. 39
  • All things will be clear and distinct to the man who does not hurry; haste is blind and improvident.
    • Book XXII, sec. 39
  • We do not learn this only from the event, which is the master of fools.
    • Book XXII, sec. 39
  • You know how to vanquish, Hannibal, but you do not know how to profit from victory.
    • Book XXII, sec. 51
  • They lived under a just and moderate government, and they admitted that one bond of their fidelity was that their rulers were the better men.
    • Book XXII, sec. 83
  • Notissimum [...] malum maxime tolerabile
    • Translation: The best known evil is the most tolerable.
    • Variant: Those ills are easiest to bear with which we are most familiar.
    • Book XXIII, sec. 3
  • The name of freedom regained is sweet to hear.
    • Book XXIV, sec. 21
  • It is easy at any moment to surrender a large fortune; to build one up is a difficult and an arduous task.
    • Book XXIV, sec. 22
  • Such is the nature of crowds: either they are humble and servile or arrogant and dominating. They are incapable of making moderate use of freedom, which is the middle course, or of keeping it.
    • Book XXIV, sec. 25
  • Many things complicated by nature are restored by reason.
    • Book XXV, sec. 11
  • In difficult and desperate cases, the boldest counsels are the safest.
    • Book XXV, sec. 38
  • The populace is like the sea, motionless in itself, but stirred by every wind, even the lightest breeze.
    • Book XXVII, sec. 27
  • Under the influence of fear, which always leads men to take a pessimistic view of things, they magnified their enemies’ resources, and minimized their own.
    • Book XXVII, sec. 44
  • Men are only too clever at shifting blame from their own shoulders to those of others.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 25
  • I approach these questions unwillingly, as it wounds, but no cure can be effected without touching upon and handling them.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 27
  • No crime can ever be defended on rational grounds.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 28
  • Temerity is not always successful.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 42
  • There is always more spirit in attack than in defense.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 44
  • Greater is our terror of the unknown.
    • Book XXVIII, sec. 44
  • Men are slower to recognise blessings than misfortunes.
    • Book XXX, sec. 21
  • Nowhere are our calculations more frequently upset than in war.
    • Book XXX, sec. 30
  • Better and safer is an assured peace than a victory hoped for. The one is in your own power, the other is in the hands of the gods.
    • Book XXX, sec. 30
  • It is easier to criticize than to correct our past errors.
    • Book XXX, sec. 30
  • It is when fortune is the most propitious that she is least to be trusted.
    • Book XXX, sec. 30
  • Good fortune and a good disposition are rarely given to the same man.
    • Book XXX, sec. 42
  • We feel public misfortunes just so far as they affect our private circumstances, and nothing of this nature appeals more directly to us than the loss of money.
    • Book XXX, sec. 44
  • No law is sufficiently convenient to all.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 3
  • No law can possibly meet the convenience of every one: we must be satisfied if it be beneficial on the whole and to the majority.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 3
  • The state is suffering from two opposite vices, avarice and luxury; two plagues which, in the past, have been the ruin of every great empire.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 4
  • It is better that a guilty man should not be brought to trial than that he should be acquitted.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 4
  • There is nothing worse than being ashamed of parsimony or poverty.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 4
  • The most honorable, as well as the safest course, is to rely entirely upon valour.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 14
  • There is nothing that is more often clothed in an attractive garb than a false creed.
    • Book XXXIV, sec. 16
  • He was always before men’s eyes; a course of action which, by increasing our familiarity with great men, diminishes our respect for them.
    • Book XXXV, sec. 10
  • Such impetuous schemes and boldness are at first sight alluring, but are difficult to handle, and in the result disastrous.
    • Book XXXV, sec. 32
  • The sun has not yet set for all time.
    • Book XXXIX, sec. 26
  • There is an old saying which, from its truth, has become proverbial, that friendships should be immortal, enmities mortal.
    • Book XL, sec. 46
  • A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself.
    • Book XLIV, sec. 15
  • He is truly a man who will not permit himself to be unduly elated when fortune’s breeze is favorable, or cast down when it is adverse.
    • Book XLV, sec. 8


  • Perīculum in morā
    • Translation: (There is) danger in delay.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address