Livy bigraphy, stories - Roman historian and author

Livy : biography

Titus Livius Patavinus (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, "Books 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. Livy and Augustus’s wife, Livia, were from the same clan in different locations, although not related by blood .


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 BC or more likely 59 BC. At the time of his birth, his home city of Patavium was the second wealthiest on the Italian peninsula. Patavium was a part of the province of Cisalpine Gaul at the time. 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.

Livy’s teen years were during the 40s BC, 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 (Mark 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. Pollio then attempted to bribe the slaves of the wealthy citizens of Patavium to expose the whereabouts of their masters; his bribery did not work, and the citizens pledged their allegiance to conservatism and the senate instead. Therefore, Livy and the other residents 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 at 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.

Titus Livius probably went to Rome in the 30s BC, and it is likely that he spent a large amount of time in the city after this, although it may not have been his primary home. During his time in Rome, he was never a senator nor held any other governmental position. His elementary mistakes in military matters show that he was never a soldier. However, he was educated in philosophy and rhetoric. It seems that Livy had the financial resources and means to live an independent life. He devoted a large part of his life to his writings, which he was able to do because of his financial freedom.

Livy was known to give recitations to small audiences, but he was not heard of to engage in declamation, which was a common pastime. He was familiar with the emperor Augustus, formerly Octavian, and the imperial family. Octavian was one of the three men fighting for the control of Rome during the Civil Wars in the 40s BC. Octavian gained power after defeating Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra, and was later given the honorary name of Augustus. Considering that Augustus came to be known as the greatest Roman Emperor in the eyes of the Romans, being a historian under Augustus was very beneficial to Livy’s career even after his death. It is said that Livy was the one who encouraged the future emperor Claudius, who was born in 10 BC, to explore the writing of history during his childhood. Livy himself was married and had at least one daughter and one son.