Livy

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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's grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, as a young man not long before 14 AD in a letter to take up the writing of history.[1] Livy and Augustus's wife, Livia, were from the same clan in different locations, although not related by blood.

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Life

The ancient historian Livy was born as Titus Livius in Patavium in northern Italy, now modern Padua. There is a debate about the year of Titus Livius' birth, 64 BCE or more likely 59 BCE. At the time of Livy’s birth, his home city of Patavium was the second wealthiest city in the Italian peninsula. Patavium was a part of the province of Cisalpine Gaul; therefore Titus Livius may not have been born a Roman Citizen. In his works, Livy often expressed his deep affection and pride for Patavium, and the city was well known for its conservative values in morality and politics.[2]

Livy’s teen years were during the 40s BCE, a time that coincided with the civil wars that were occurring throughout the Roman world. The governor of Cisalpine Gaul at the time, a man called Asinius Pollio, had tried to bring Patavium into the camp of Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony), who was one of the three men in the fight for control over Rome. The wealthier citizens of Patavium refused to contribute money and arms to Asinius Pollio and went into hiding. Asinius Pollio then attempted to bribe the slaves of the wealthy citizens of Patavium to expose the whereabouts of their masters. Asinius Pollio’s bribery did not work, and the citizens of Patavium pledged their allegiance to conservatism and the senate instead. Therefore, Livy and the other citizens of Patavium did not end up supporting Marcus Antonius in his campaign for control over Rome. It is likely, then, that the Roman civil wars prevented Livy from pursuing a higher education in Rome or going on a Grand Tour of Greece, which was common for adolescent males during the time. Later on, Asinius Pollio made a jibe at Livy’s “patavinity,” saying that Livy’s Latin showed certain “provincialisms” frowned on at Rome. His jibe at Livy and his “patavinity,” however, may have been said because of the fact that the city of Patavium had rejected Asinius Pollio, and he still harboured harsh feelings toward the city as a whole.[3]

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