Livy : biography
Perhaps Livy’s most famous work was his history of Rome. In it he explains the complete history of the city of Rome, from its foundation to the death of Augustus. Because he was writing under the emperor Augustus, Livy’s history emphasizes the great triumphs of Rome.. He wrote his history with embellished accounts of Roman heroism in order to promote the new type of government implemented by Augustus when he became emperor.. In Livy’s preface to his history, he said that he did not care whether his personal fame remained in darkness, as long as his work helped to “preserve the memory of the deeds of the world’s preeminent nation.”. Because Livy was writing about events that had occurred hundreds of years earlier, the value of his history was questionable, although many Romans came to believe what he wrote to be the true history of Rome’s foundation.. He had also written other works, including an essay in the form of a letter to his son, and numerous dialogues, most likely using Cicero as a model.
Titus Livius is said to have died in the year AD 17 (three years after the death of the emperor Augustus) in his home city of Patavium.
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The authority supplying information from which possible vital data on Livy can be deduced is Eusebius of Caesaria, a bishop of the early Catholic Church. 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.
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 Ab urbe condita 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. 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.
Jerome says that Livy was born the same year as Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus and died the same year as Ovid. 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. 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.
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. (…scripsit enim et dialogos, quos non magis philosophiae adnumerare possis quam historiae, et ex professo philosophiam continentis libros)