Titus Livius (59BC-AD17) began working on his History of Rome at the age of 30 and continued for over 40 years until his death. The history ran to 142 books, of which 35 survive.

Titus Livius who was born around 59 BC and livd through 17 AD, is known as Livy in English, wrote a monumental History of Rome, Ab Urbe Condita, from its founding (traditionally dated to 753 BC). Livy was a native of Padua on the Po River in northern Italy.

Not much is known about Livy, hence we have to speculate from what we read in his books. His family apparently did not belong to the senatorial class and Livy does not seem to have embarked on a political or forensic profession. Most of his life must have been spent at Rome. Livy began by composing and publishing in units of five books, the length of which was determined by the size of the ancient papyrus roll. As his material became more complex, however, he abandoned this symmetrical pattern and wrote 142 books. Books 11-20 and 46-142 have been lost. The later books after Book 45 are known only from summaries. Livy was unique among Roman historians in that he played no part in politics. This deprived him of firsthand access to much material that was preserved in official quarters. The chief effect is that Livy did not seek historical explanations in political terms. The novelty and impact of his history lay in the fact that he saw history in personal and moral terms.

In looking at history from a moral standpoint, Livy was at one with other thinking Romans of his day. Augustus attempted by legislation and propaganda to inculcate moral ideals. Horace and Virgil in their poetry stressed the same message - that it was moral qualities that had made and could keep Rome great.

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Early History of Rome
by Livy
from Penguin Classics
Historical Non-Fiction for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)