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The Early History of Rome (The History of Rome #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  7,158 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
Livy (c. 59 BC-AD 17) dedicated most of his life to writing some 142 volumes of history, the first five of which comprise The Early History of Rome. With stylistic brilliance, he chronicles nearly 400 years of history, from the founding of Rome (traditionally dated to 757 BC) to the Gallic invasion in 386 BC - an era which witnessed the reign of seven kings, the establishm ...more
Paperback, 488 pages
Published March 28th 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published -29)
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If you've ever planned to gather together a gaggle of car thieves and dognappers to found your own city on a hill (view spoiler)or seven with a view to growing to become one of the world's pre-eminent states then Livy's history of the first 400 odd years of Rome's history contains plenty of warnings, firstly you may struggle to establish any kind of dynasty over the city you fou ...more
Sep 03, 2008 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
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, livy, roman
I'm reading primarily the Penguin Livy (Four Vol) and the Loeb Classics Livy (14 Volumes), but I'm primarily reviewing the Loeb versions. So for the Early History of Rome please see my reviews of:

1. Livy I: History of Rome, Books 1-2
2. Livy II: History of Rome, Books 3-4
3. Livy III: History of Rome, Books 5-7


Look, that you may see how cheap they hold their bodies whose eyes are fixed upon renown!"
- Livy, Book II, xii 13

"Oratory was invented for doubtful matters"
- Livy, Book III, lv 3
Justin Evans
Apr 30, 2016 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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Passionnant ! La naissance de Rome. Au delà des épisodes connus (Remus et Romulus, les Horaces et les Curiaces, Numa,Tarquin, Lucrèce, Brennus, ... ), outre les peintures de bravoures ou de félonies, des guerres incessante, Tite-Live dessine la constitution d'un espace politique caractérisé par une rivalité permanente entre plébéiens et patriciens. Ballotés de périls en périls, Rome tire profit de ses expériences et créé petit à petit les institutions qui permettent de conserver au mieux l'équil
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-rome, history
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
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
kao i većina povijesnih izvora-negdje brže, negdje sporije, ovdje govor, ondje klasna borba, tu i tamo 'i iduće godine volščani i sabinjani su harali po selima' i tako. tko voli povijest Rima, dobro je za pročitati.
Roger Burk
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
T.F. Rhoden
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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)
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
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Andrea Way
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for university this year. This was an intersection read and helpful if wanting to learn more about Ancient Rome.
Feb 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, rome, non-fiction
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
Roman Clodia
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
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 "
Jun 06, 2010 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
magnanimous romans liberate italia from evil celts and etruscans and whatnot.
Robert Sheppard


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is an apt admonition to
" 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. "

I don't know how close that is to the original since the translation is so modern (like most of their editions of ancient works, and yes, I disliked it).

I was in Sienna, Italy back in 2000/2001. My host family had been taking me around some parts of Europe that weren't too distant from Varaždin, Croatia. At one point, while we were walking to the Cathedral, I asked my host brother, "What's up with all those statues and pictures everywhere?"

"What statues and pictures?"

"The ones with the kids and the wolf." I'll never forget the look he gave me. The look of, "Are you kidding me?"

"That's Romulus and Remus..." Blank stare. "Romulus? The founder of R
Amy Lee
read for class. should reread. a classic with amazing rhetoric
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Took forever to get through, and it was incredibly hard to read, but overall a worthwhile book.

My main complaint: too many damn names.
Richard Tullberg
Woe to the vanquished!
Scriptor Ignotus
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was introduced to Livy's work by Machiavelli, who was among the first of the moderns to take a deferential view toward the ancients, as Europe climbed out of its Dark Age ditch and labored toward the domineering heights of the Enlightenment. Classical authors, Livy among them, were being unearthed and gave intellectuals a new array of secular (or so they thought) observations to work with. What Galileo did with astronomy and Da Vinci did with anatomy and engineering, Machiavelli attempted to d ...more
Sep 27, 2011 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
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Livy has taught me three things.

1) Early Rome went to war A LOT.
Like, really, honestly - over and over again, nearly every year. Mostly against the same three or four city states that just never seemed to learn their lesson.

2) The plebeians were REALLY hard to please.
They absolutely loved revolting and attempting to bring about revolution. They were insatiable. They were ALMOST Marxists, and hundreds of years before Christ too.

3) Livy did not care much for fun and engaging narratives.
Livy liked
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it.

Was Rome's totally mystical beginnings tale or fact? A rational man would envy at Titus Livius's explanation that the first story is accepted as a result that the military was so powerful and Rome was so Divine that it was characteristic to believe the fairy tales of the She wolf, however... Livy provides an amazing pre-face, I would lie if I didn't say I enjoyed and noted the pre-face more than the actually contents of the Roman History in it's early ages. Heres a sneak peak:

"The foll
Feb 26, 2010 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin
Livy is like fine wine. I keep coming back to him and am never let down. He is the single most important Roman historian when it comes to Rome's early history. He reads rather like Herodotus in many ways. As a storyteller, he appreciates the importance of character and dramatic presentation. He is colorful and entertaining, never dry and tedious. The period of the monarchy, the Struggle of the Orders, the establishment of the Republic: all of these are treated in depth. If you want to know more ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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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
More about Livy

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The History of Rome (4 books)
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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.” 53 likes
“Now I would solicit the particular attention of those numerous people who imagine that money is everything in this world, and that rank and ability are inseparable from wealth: let them observe that Cincinnatus, the one man in whom Rome reposed all her hope of survival, was at that moment working a little three-acre farm (now known as Quinctian meadows) west of the Tiber, just opposite the spot where the shipyards are today. A mission from the city found him at work on his land - digging a ditch, maybe, or ploughing. Greetings were exchanged, and he was asked - with a prayer for God's blessing on himself and his country - to put on his toga and hear the Senate's instructions. This naturally surprised him, and, asking if all were well, he told his wife Racilia to run to their cottage and fetch his toga. The toga was brought, and wiping the grimy sweat from his hands and face he put it on; at once the envoys from the city saluted him, with congratulations, as Dictator, invited him to enter Rome, and informed him of the terrible danger of Minucius's army.” 8 likes
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