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Ab Urbe Condita: Volume I: Books I-V (Oxford Classical Texts) (Bks.1-5)

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,068 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Written primarily in Latin, 1914/1930/1981 edition
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published December 12th 1974 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -29)
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Mar 04, 2016 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I read the reviews of Livy's History and I see that his writing has been badly misunderstood. Critics make two charges against it; one worthless, and one worthwhile.

The first is that Livy is reliant on myth and miraculous stories. He includes tales that are not possibly true, or have been pilfered from the Greeks. They complain also that Livy is too credulous about fantastic occurrences like, for example, when he observes talking cows or phenomenal weather.

But this charge is frankly stupid. It
Justin Evans
Apr 30, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
I'm going to read as much of Livy as I can stomach over the summer. My stomach comes into it because I don't have the patience for or the interest in military hijinx to see me through every page. And I fear that this volume is setting a high bar for those to follow. There's war here, sure, but a real stress on internal matters instead.

And those internal matters are, essentially, what people who haven't read Marx think Marx is: the patricians will come up with any excuse to maintain their privil
Roger Burk
Oct 29, 2015 Roger Burk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Livy tells the traditional story of the first 365 years of Rome, from the wanderings of Aeneas to the sack of the city by Gauls in 386 B.C. Myth slides seamlessly into legend and then on into history. There is perhaps too much detail on who was consul each year and what inconclusive battles they fought, but the main events make a gripping story.

It seems early Rome was set up by random gangs of freebooters and riffraff who found a convenient place on top of the Palatine Hill to base their husband
Pete daPixie
I thought Livy's 'The Rise of Rome' Books 1-5 to be some of the hardest reading I've done for quite some time. Like eating cardboard. The more I read, the harder it was to digest the thing. A historian whose work I read recently, my colander brain prevents recall of who this was, advocated strongly for reading the literature of a period to fully understand the history. So I met the advice half way in deciding to read this book.
Titus Livius wrote 142 books in this monster series of his history of
T.F. Rhoden
Jan 01, 2012 T.F. Rhoden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is more than enough in Livy’s work to keep one’s self busy. Though I had only planned on reading the first ten of the forty or so books in his history (each book contains around 40-50 chapters or around 50 pages a book), I now plan on reading all of the books. Livy was born in c.59 BCE and wrote these books from the middle part of his life till his death after the turn of the millennium.

As for the first book, it mainly tells the story of the founding of Rome (which was in 753 BCE for Livy)
Jan 09, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ancient-rome
This year I have determined to read a number of books written during the Roman Republic and Empire. I have started with Livy's The Early History of Rome, which covers the period from the founding of Rome to the sacking of the city by the Gauls in 386 B.C.

Although Livy was no match for the dark power of Tacitus, the story he tells is one of war all the time. From its founding, Rome was constantly at war with the Etruscans, the Sabines, the Volsci, and other nearby peoples. At the same time, from
Aug 04, 2014 Zelda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This translation was first published in 1960 and it retains a scholarly and serious tone that tends to be abandoned in favor of a more accessible simplicity such as is found in modern translations of ancient texts. Where "accessible simplicity" means "dumbed down patter". All the same it really is accessible to all but the most simple-minded reader. How do I know? I read it with what I think was great success. I even enjoyed it and looked forward to my hour with this book and a mug of coffee eve ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straight forward and enjoyable, there are none of those 20 page long digressions which plague the greek historians. The real draw of this is that it shows how a small settlement in the ancient world developed and gained power until it became an entire civilization. It's obvious that Livy really really loves Rome, and at times it can feel like pure propoganda, but its balanced out with some very even-handed depictions of major conflicts and crazy personal ambitions. In their early stages, you can ...more
Jun 07, 2010 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nowhere is the class struggle so vividly laid out as in Livy. Plebeians want more land and equality, so the patricians distract them by going to war; plebeians want equal political representation, so the patricians distract them by invoking the gods ("What would the Gods think? You're too poor!"). My dog, is Appius Claudius not ready for Fox News? This is an excellent translation, superior to the Penguin edition, too, in my regard, for politely breaking up the consulships. By the time the kings ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found reading this book to be a mixed experience. It clearly gives a sense of Roman history up to 386 BC, much of course being based on myth and legend, and as such it is an invaluable introduction to the history of Rome.

The writing itself seems uneven. There are seemingly interminable chronological lists of consuls and tribunes, squabbles between patricians and plebians, repetitive conflicts with neighboring tribes and cities that become mind-numbing. Interspersed with these are fascinating "
Nov 03, 2014 sologdin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient, history
magnanimous romans liberate italia from evil celts and etruscans and whatnot.
Mar 31, 2014 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history, rome
Even for a huge Latinophile, this history is a bit hard-going. I've probably been spoiled having read Tacitus and Plutarch in the past, with their endlessly entertaining sassy character assassinations. Livy is a lot more... sober.

I suppose it's mainly because so little is actually known about the history of early Rome. For the first book in this volume, this actually makes for a fascinating weaving of fact and myth: the almost certainly mythological figures of Aeneas, Hercules (and maybe Romulus
Sep 27, 2011 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazon review:

When Livy began his epic The History of Rome, he had no idea of the fame and fortune he would eventually attain. He would go on to become the most widely read writer in the Roman Empire and was eagerly sought out and feted like a modern celebrity. And his fame continued to grow after his death. His bombastic style, his intricate and complex sentence structure, and his flair for powerfully recreating the searing drama of historical incidents made him a favorite of teachers and pupil
Mar 26, 2008 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-general
Reasonable secondary source history of Rome. Livy covers the time period from 1200BC to ~385BC in minor detail, but includes some famous speeches from the time. Enjoyable for a number of reasons, excruciating for a number of others.

Enjoyable: Its nice to hear a pagan bitching about how everything's going to shit because the gods aren't being followed and kids these days don't give the gods the respect they deserve.

Enjoyable: The names of Roman Senators. My favorites were definitely Spurius Furiu
May 26, 2014 Rfilippelli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-finished
The early history of Rome from the founding by Romulus to its capture and burning by the Gauls in 386BC. Livy's storytelling radiates in vivid accounts of constant class warfare interspersed with military adventures. Included are the stories of the Rape of the Sabine Women, the Alban Compact, Coriolanus, the Fabii, the slave Vindictus, the rise and fall of the Tarquin kings and the battle of Lake Regillus, the Commission of the Ten (the Decemvirs) and their law-code the twelve tables, the coming ...more
Peter Aronson
Apr 16, 2016 Peter Aronson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A readable and occasionally surprisingly colloquial translation. Livy was not a modern historian, and did not perform the type of research we now expect an historian to do, and happily made up speeches that did not survive, but he made best effort to sift through the stories and histories that came down to him. His history of early Rome, while containing many mythological elements, is still invaluable in understanding the Roman Kingdom and Early Republic.
Roman Clodia
Jun 09, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has sometimes been dismissed because of the 'inaccuracy' of the history, but the very idea of history in classical times was different from our definition: there was no strict divide between literature, history and (moral) philosophy and so we shouldn't judge ancient works by the same criteria that we might use of modern history books. Livy, writing under Augustus, was, like his contemporary Vergil, mythologising about the foundation of Rome, and his story of where the Romans came from and ...more
Steve Hemmeke
Livy was a prolific ancient Roman historian, writing around the time of the birth of Christ. He chronicles the political and military history of Rome from its founding by Aeneas to its sacking by the Gauls around 386 BC.

He is keen to uphold certain values.

"When we followed God's guidance all was well; when we scorned it, all was ill" (pg. 397). Following omens and divinations was more convincing even than reasoned oratory. It is more important to obey the gods than to follow the persuasion
Feb 09, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in history or Latin classics
Recommended to Richard by: Machiavelli, after general learning
I've had this lying around for years, started it once; this time, I went through it because I intend to read through Machiavelli's works, one of which is a commentary on Livy. I did enjoy reading this if only because I came upon names I recognized--Coriolanus, Tarquin, Cincinnatus, and so on, and some I should have known, especially Camillus. This old Penguin could have used some maps and a chronology of sorts (the founding of Rome is mythic and a suggested date is c. 753 BCE?); the dating was b ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Livy is the Roman equivalent of Herodotus, blending fact with myth and legend to paint a highly readable portrait of the monarchy and early republic of Rome. Before the Empire and all its imperial grandeur, Rome was a scrappy city-state with a dysfunctional government and endless enemies. A truly great book and despite heading up the syllabus for every "Classical Civilization" course and thereby evoking instantaneous eye-rolling, Livy is a great pleasure to read.
Steve Gordon
Sep 15, 2012 Steve Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd say my favorite parts of this work revolve around the ever recurring class struggle between kings, patricians, and the commons, as well as the varying conflicts involving the enforcement of military discipline. It just goes to show.... where there are classes... .there is class struggle.
Jules Goud
For the POPSUGAR 2016 Reading Challenge, this book is "A Book at least 100 years older than me".

At first, I loved this book. It read like a novel and I found it really interesting. However, the unfortunate thing is that history tends to repeat itself. So, through out "The Early History of Rome", history repeated itself. A lot. It was the same battles and the same political problems, just different people involved. Until the end. Then it changed. But, the middle was hard to get through because it
Emma Brown
I have a soft spot for history, so I could only avoid this book for so long. The tales and speeches interested me the most, though the author made meticulous note of the wars and naming each man who filled the slot of a political leader, which wound up being more monotonous than than not. Other than that, I enjoyed looking at the cultures and trying to understand just how Livy viewed his country.

He was right, at least, in regarding human nature as remaining similar enough that a glimpse of the p
Brittany Kay
Jul 20, 2009 Brittany Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Livy is wonderful, especially if you have an interest in Roman history. Reading this book as part of a required reading for a Women in Antiquity class really helped me to understand the people and times of Rome
Matt Sautman
Oct 12, 2015 Matt Sautman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This translation of the first five books of Livy's history contains an account that is synthesized with myth, detailing the arrival of Aenius, the Rape of the Sabine Women, Romulus and Remus, the Death of the Kings, the foundation of the Republic, the Oath of the Horatii, and the Plebeian Revolt, amongst many others. The only complaint that I have is that I wish the individual five books were formally separated into separate chapters to make reading comprehension far easier when new historical f ...more
Julian Meynell
Dec 23, 2015 Julian Meynell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Previously I have read Livy's war with Hannibal. At the time I read that I thought that it was OK, because Livy is not a master stylist like Herodotus and lacks the historical insight of a Thucydides or a Tacitus. However, for whatever reason much of the book stuck with me and it is Livy's strength that he often tells these short little anecdotes which for one reason or another come alive. This is despite the fact that his overall style is very much "then this happened and then this happened and ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 2
In Book 1 Livy recounts the story of the battle between the three Horatii brothers of Rome and the three Curiatii brothers of Alba. According to this account the two sets of brothers agree to fight each other in order to determine which country should rule the other. During the battle the two Horatii brothers are killed and all three Curiatii brothers are wounded. Then Horatius, the sole survivor of the Horatii, kills all three Curiatii and thereby emerges as the victor. When Horatius arrives b ...more
Gabriela Paige
Apr 30, 2015 Gabriela Paige rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Early History of Rome is a interesting book. It is a hard read so that is why I rated it low. It just wasn't the type of book that I like, but it is a good book for those who would like to learn about Roman History and it is quite full of information on that subject.
The man who wrote this book, Titus Livius (Livy), lived from 59 B.C. to 17 A.D. He wrote 142 books on the history of Rome from 753 B.C. to 9 B.C. and only 35 books have survived. This book is about the first 5 books starting at
Apr 12, 2009 Derrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Derek Benz
First, note that the translation I have is the Barnes and Noble version! Maybe look for others...

For its historical significance Livy's work is a 5. The writing, however, is just bad. Not sure if the translation is to blame or if Livy was that bad of a writer, Latin or no. There were times where I simply wasn't sure who was doing what. This type of confusion and ridiculously long and awkward sentences are common making the flow almost non existent. The end notes are bad too. Not enough useful in
I think reading this unthinkable book by Livy is like reading an epic. In other words, don't expect to enjoy reading him or understand every event, dialog, uprising, etc. since there're innumerable complexities in there. However, reading him is worth spending our time so that we can grasp some ideas from one of the great three Roman historians; the trio being Livy, Sallust and Tacitus (according to a synopsis from a Penguin paperback, I wonder how about Polybius, why not?).

Therefore, I'd like to
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Titus Livius (Patavinus) (64 or 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 before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time. He was on familiar terms with th ...more
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“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see: and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings: fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.” 42 likes
“It is your duty,' he said, 'to recover your country not by gold but by the sword. You will be fighting with all you love before your eyes: the temples of the gods, your wives and children, the soil of your native land scarred with the ravages of war, and everything which honor and truth call upon you to defend, or recover, or avenge.” 7 likes
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