This week we will look at a portion of the first book of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita (From the Foundation of the City). Though he wrote during the early years of the Empire, his massive history (of which only a few books remain) took in almost the whole of the history of Rome down to his time. His discussion of its earliest days, as presented here, contains a series of stories that were clearly already in currency before his time, but is mainly legendary in character. His account of the Second Punic War (the one with Hannibal), on the other hand, is likewise exciting and gripping writing. Note the kinds of hero that the different passages represent, and also the ways in which the accounts of Aeneas, for example, differ from Vergil’s accounts, or from Caesar’s self-portrait, or from what we know of Achilles.
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