Titus Livius

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Titus Livius, bust created by Lorenzo Larese Moretti in 1867, "Panteon Veneto" (Palazzo Loredan, Venice)

Titus Livius (* probably 59 BC in Patavium, today's Padua ; † around 17 AD there) was a Roman historian at the time of Augustus . If the source is given, his historical work Ab urbe condita with the abbreviation Liv. quoted.


Little is known about Livy's life. It was mostly dealt with in the lost historians and philosophers section of Sueton's collection of biographies De viris illustribus ( Of the Famous Men ). Livius was born in 59 BC. BC - maybe as early as 64 BC - in Patavium, today's Padua, which only existed in 49 BC. Received Roman citizenship. Nothing is known about his parents, but he probably came from an urban bourgeois family with a conservative lifestyle. He remained connected to his hometown until death, which is said to have had an impact on his style and pronunciation. There he may have received his basic philosophical and rhetorical training. It is unlikely that Livy would have left Patavium before the end of the civil wars (30 BC) and exposed himself to the dangers of living in Rome . So he probably only came to Rome when he was about 30 years old after Augustus ' final victory and the time of peace established in Italy - the pax Augusta - without having to be there all the time.

In the capital of the empire , Livy completed his scientific training and became personally acquainted with Augustus, who promoted him. He was also on good terms with the future emperor Claudius and encouraged him to write historical accounts. Livius' daughter was the wife of the rhetorician Magius, and one of his sons, also named Titus Livius, wrote a geographic work. This is mentioned by Pliny the Elder as one of his sources.

In addition to his main historical work, Livius also wrote scientific philosophical writings and historical-philosophical dialogues as well as a teaching letter to his son in which he discussed stylistic issues and highlighted Demosthenes and Cicero as worthy of imitation. These smaller works were lost early.

Livy attained lasting importance through the composition of his early 20s of the 1st century BC. Started history work on whose elaboration he worked until the end of his life. Unlike most Roman historians ( e.g. Sallust or Tacitus ), he was not politically active himself, making him the first important Roman historian to write history without any political experience. Since he held neither military nor public offices, it was possible for him to concentrate entirely on his writing. In his youth he had experienced the final phase of the republic , which ended in the last civil wars , and displayed an appreciative attitude towards Pompey and a critical attitude towards Caesar . That's why Augustus jokingly called him "Pompeian", without this worsening Livius' relationship with the Princeps .

Livy achieved such fame during his lifetime that one of his admirers traveled from Gades especially to meet him. Portraits of the historian also stood in Roman libraries. Augustus died in 14 AD, and towards the end of his life Livy returned for good to Patavium, where he probably died in 17 AD.

History work

The extensive history of Titus Livius is entitled Ab urbe condita libri CXLII (Latin from the foundation of the city - 142 books ). It is a story of the city of Rome and its dominion from its founding (according to legend by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC) to the death of Augustus ' stepson Drusus in 9 BC. However, only about a quarter of the original text has survived, namely books 1–10 (period from 753 BC to 293 BC) and 21–45 (218 BC to 167 BC). ; incomplete from Book 41). The rest is partly known from the contents ( periochae ), extracts ( epitomae ) and fragments.


Only literature on the biography of Livy is listed here; for literature on historical works including translations and commentaries see the article Ab urbe condita (Livy) .

Web links

Commons : Titus Livius  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Hieronymus reports in his chronicle as Livius' year of birth 59 BC. BC, but he falsely claims that Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus was born in the same year . Since the latter 64 BC Was born, this date is sometimes assumed to be the year of Livy's birth. Jerome also states in his chronicle that Livy died in 17 AD. It is unlikely that the historian in the case of the assumption of his birth in 64 BC. Accordingly, he had died as early as 12 AD ( Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman Literature , Saur, 1994, vol. 1, p. 659).
  2. Manfred Fuhrmann and Peter Lebrecht Schmidt: Livius III 2. In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP). Volume 7, Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-476-01477-0 , Sp. 377-382 (here: 377).
  3. Michael von Albrecht: History of Roman Literature , Saur, 1994, Vol. 1, p. 660.
  4. ^ Suetonius , Claudius 41, 1.
  5. Seneca the Elder , Controversiae 10, praef. 2.
  6. Pliny, Naturalis historia , index to books 5 and 6 .; perhaps also used in books 2, 3, and 7.
  7. Seneca , Epistulae ad Lucilium 100, 9.
  8. Quintilian , Institutio oratoria 10, 1, 39.
  9. ^ W. Hoffmann: Livius, T. In: Lexikon der Alten Welt , 1965, reprint 1990, ISBN 3-7608-1034-9 , Vol. 2, Sp. 1753.
  10. Tacitus, Annalen 4, 34, 3.
  11. Pliny the Younger , Epistulae 2, 3, 8.
  12. ^ Suetonius, Caligula 34, 2.