Titus Livius (59 B.C. to 17 A.D.), better known in English simply as Livy, was one of the greatest Roman historians, and he exercised a profound influence on our understanding of Roman history. Of independent means, Livy dedicated himself to his writing and produced a monumental 142-book work entitled Ab urbe condita, meaning from the founding of the City (of Rome). This work traces the history of the Romans from the early days of the city state to its rise to imperial power under the Emperor Augustus.
Although Livy's works have been used as sources by later Roman historians as well as modern researchers, there is no question that Livy embellished many of the stories in his book to emphasize the greatness and courage of the Roman people. To some extent he was a propagandist for the Imperial enterprise, though Livy never held any political or military office himself.
The book is so vast that it is rarely read today and is mostly known through summaries and anecdotes quoted in other works. Here we present a sumamary of the more interesting stories from Livy, retold in a more popular and more accessible style.
In addition to his comprehensive history of Rome, Livy is known to have written several other books but these were lost during the Dark Ages that followed the Fall of the Roman Empire so that only their titles are known. Sadly this is the same fate has befallen many other important works of history and literature from the Roman period. Their existence is now only known becaus of a title listed in a book catalog or by some short quotations in works that did survive.
In reading these stories from Livy's history it is interesting to note that this is how the Romans saw themselves and their place in history at the height of their empire; that in tself is worthy of study.