Titus Livius[1] (/ˈlɪviəs/; Classical Latin: [ˈtɪ.tʊs ˈliː.wi.ʊs]; 64 or 59 BC – AD 12 or 17) – simply rendered as Livy (/ˈlɪvi/) in English – was a Roman historian. He 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 lifetime. He was on familiar terms with members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and even in friendship with Augustus,[2] whose young grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, he exhorted to take up the writing of history.[3]

Titus Livius (Livy)
Titus Livius
Titus Livius
Born64 or 59 BC
Patavium, Adriatic Veneti (modern Padua, Italy)
DiedAD 12 or 17
Patavium, Italy, Roman Empire
SubjectHistory, biography, oratory
Literary movementGolden Age of Latin


Livy was born in Patavium in northern Italy, now modern Padua. There is a debate about the year of his birth- either in 64 BC, or more likely, in 59 BC (see below).[4] At the time of his birth, his home city of Patavium was the second wealthiest on the Italian peninsula, and the largest in the province of Cisalpine Gaul. Cisalpine Gaul was merged in Italia during his lifetime and its inhabitants were given Roman citizenship by Julius Caesar. In his works, Livy often expressed his deep affection and pride for Patavium, and the city was well known for its conservative values in morality and politics.[5] "He was by nature a recluse, mild in temperament and averse to violence; the restorative peace of his time gave him the opportunity to turn all his imaginative passion to the legendary and historical past of the country he loved."[6]

Livy's teenage years were during the 40s BC, when a period of numerous civil wars throughout the Roman world occurred. The governor of Cisalpine Gaul at the time, Asinius Pollio, tried to sway Patavium into supporting Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), the leader of one of the warring factions. The wealthy citizens of Patavium refused to contribute money and arms to Asinius Pollio, and went into hiding. Pollio then attempted to bribe the slaves of those wealthy citizens to expose the whereabouts of their masters; his bribery did not work, and the citizens instead pledged their allegiance to the Senate. It is therefore likely that the Roman civil wars prevented Livy from pursuing a higher education in Rome or going on a tour of Greece, which was common for adolescent males of the nobility at the time. Many years later, Asinius Pollio derisively commented on Livy's "patavinity", saying that Livy's Latin showed certain "provincialisms" frowned on at Rome. Pollio's dig may have been the result of bad feelings he harboured toward the city of Patavium from his experiences there during the civil wars.[7]

Livy probably went to Rome in the 30s BC[8], and it is likely that he spent a large amount of time in the city after this, although it may not have been his primary home. During his time in Rome, he was never a senator nor held a government position. His writings contain elementary mistakes on military matters, indicating that he probably never served in the Roman army. However, he was educated in philosophy and rhetoric. It seems that Livy had the financial resources and means to live an independent life, though the origin of that wealth is unknown. He devoted a large part of his life to his writings, which he was able to do because of his financial freedom.[9]

Livy was known to give recitations to small audiences, but he was not heard of to engage in declamation, then a common pastime. He was familiar with the emperor Augustus and the imperial family. Augustus was considered by later Romans to have been the greatest Roman emperor, benefiting Livy's reputation long after his death. Suetonius described how Livy encouraged the future emperor Claudius, who was born in 10 BC, to write historiographical works during his childhood.[10]

Livy's most famous work was his history of Rome. In it he narrates a complete history of the city of Rome, from its foundation to the death of Augustus. Because he was writing under the reign of Augustus, Livy's history emphasizes the great triumphs of Rome.[11] 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.[12] 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".[13] Because Livy was mostly writing about events that had occurred hundreds of years earlier, the historical value of his work was questionable, although many Romans came to believe his account to be true.[14]

Livy was married and had at least one daughter and one son.[9] He also produced other works, including an essay in the form of a letter to his son, and numerous dialogues, most likely modelled on similar works by Cicero.[15]

Titus Livius died in his home city of Patavium in either (see below) AD 12 or 17; the latter would have been three years after the death of the emperor Augustus.[5]


Ab Urbe condita
Ab Urbe condita (1715)

Livy's only surviving work is the "History of Rome" (Ab Urbe Condita), which was his career from his mid-life, probably 32, until he left Rome for Padua in old age, probably in the reign of Tiberius after the death of Augustus. 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.[16]


Imperial era

Livy's History of Rome was in high demand from the time it was published and remained so during the early years of the empire. Pliny the Younger reported that Livy's celebrity was so widespread, a man from Cadiz travelled to Rome and back for the sole purpose of meeting him.[17] Livy's work was a source for the later works of Aurelius Victor, Cassiodorus, Eutropius, Festus, Florus, Granius Licinianus and Orosius. Julius Obsequens used Livy, or a source with access to Livy, to compose his De Prodigiis, an account of supernatural events in Rome from the consulship of Scipio and Laelius to that of Paulus Fabius and Quintus Aelius.

Livy wrote during the reign of Augustus, who came to power after a civil war with generals and consuls claiming to be defending the Roman Republic, such as Pompey. Patavium had been pro-Pompey. To clarify his status, the victor of the civil war, Octavian Caesar, had wanted to take the title Romulus (the first king of Rome) but in the end accepted the senate proposal of Augustus. Rather than abolishing the republic, he adapted it and its institutions to imperial rule.

The historian Tacitus, writing about a century after Livy's time, described the Emperor Augustus as his friend. Describing the trial of Cremutius Cordus, Tacitus represents him as defending himself face-to-face with the frowning Tiberius as follows:

"I am said to have praised Brutus and Cassius, whose careers many have described and no one mentioned without eulogy. Titus Livius, pre-eminently famous for eloquence and truthfulness, extolled Cneius Pompeius in such a panegyric that Augustus called him Pompeianus, and yet this was no obstacle to their friendship."[18]

Livy's reasons for returning to Padua after the death of Augustus (if he did) are unclear, but the circumstances of Tiberius' reign certainly allow for speculation.


Briosco Titus Livius
Titus Livius by Andrea Briosco (c. 1567)

During the Middle Ages, interest in Livy declined because Western scholars were more focused on religious texts.[19] Due to the length of the work, the literate class was already reading summaries rather than the work itself, which was tedious to copy, expensive, and required a lot of storage space. It must have been during this period, if not before, that manuscripts began to be lost without replacement.

The Renaissance was a time of intense revival; the population discovered that Livy's work was being lost and large amounts of money changed hands in the rush to collect Livian manuscripts. The poet Beccadelli sold a country home for funding to purchase one manuscript copied by Poggio.[19] Petrarch and Pope Nicholas V launched a search for the now missing books. Laurentius Valla published an amended text initiating the field of Livy scholarship. Dante speaks highly of him in his poetry, and Francis I of France commissioned extensive artwork treating Livian themes; Niccolò Machiavelli's work on republics, the Discourses on Livy is presented as a commentary on the History of Rome. Respect for Livy rose to lofty heights. Walter Scott reports in Waverley (1814) as an historical fact that a Scotchman involved in the first Jacobite uprising of 1715 was recaptured (and executed) because, having escaped, he yet lingered near the place of his captivity in "the hope of recovering his favorite Titus Livius."[20]

Modern historians have developed their own views of Livy and his place in the ancient world, which were not current in ancient times. For example, one text on western civilization pronounces: "Livy was the prose counterpart of Vergil," as both have been standard in the study of Golden Age Latin literature.[21] Golden Age Latin was not known as such in classical times and the ancient reader could choose from a vastly larger bibliography; but, in fact, private reading was a privilege of the literate few, who had the wealth to buy manuscripts or have them copied and had the time for library research. Public readings of works, however, were common and the usual method in which an author became known.


Livy was likely born between 64 and 59 B.C. and died sometime between A.D. 12 to 17. He started his work sometime between 31 B.C. and 25 B.C. St. Jerome says that Livy was born the same year as Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus and died the same year as Ovid.[22] 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.[23] 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.

The authority supplying information from which possible vital data on Livy can be deduced is Eusebius of Caesarea, a bishop of the early Christian Church. One of his works was a summary of world history in ancient Greek, termed the Chronikon, dating from the early 4th century AD. 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 two separate manuscripts, Armenian and Greek (Christesen and Martirosova-Torlone 2006). St. Jerome wrote in Latin. Fragments in Syriac exist.[24]

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 manuscripts 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.[22] 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.[25]


  1. ^ Titus is the praenomen, that is the personal name; Livius is the nomen, that is the gentile name, which means "belonging to the gens Livia". Therefore, Titus Livius did not have the cognomen, the third name, the family name, what was not unusual during the Roman Republic. About this the classical sources agree: Seneca (Ep., 100,9), Tacitus (Ann., IV,34,4), Pliny the Younger (Ep., II,3,8) and Suetonius (Claud., 41,1) call him Titus Livius; Quintilian calls him Titus Livius (Inst. Or., VIII,1,3; VIII,2,18; X,1,101) or simply Livius (Inst. Or., I,5,56; X,1,39). In the sepulchral inscription from Patavium, which most probably concerns him, he is named, with the patronymic, T(itus) Livius C(ai) f(ilius) (CIL V, 2965).
  2. ^ See infra Tacitus, Annales IV.34.
  3. ^ See infra Suetonius, Claudius 41.1.
  4. ^ "Livy". A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press. 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b Livy 1998, ix.
  6. ^ Aubrey de Sélincourt, translator (1978). Livy: The History of Early Rome. The Easton Press. Norwalk Connecticut: Collector’s Edition. pp. viii.
  7. ^ Livy 1998, ix–x.
  8. ^ Hazel, John. Who's Who in the Roman World. Routledge, 2001. Who's Who Series. EBSCOhost,
  9. ^ a b Livy 1998, x.
  10. ^ Suetonius, Life of Claudius 41.1: "In his youth he began to write a history under the encouragement of Titus Livius and with the help of Sulpicius Flavus" (Historiam in adulescentia hortante T. Livio, Sulpicio vero Flavo etiam adiuvante, scribere adgressus est).
  11. ^ Payne, Robert (1962), The Roman Triumph, London: Robert Hale, p. 38.
  12. ^ Dudley, Donald R (1970), The Romans: 850 BC – AD 337, New York: Alfred A Knopf, p. 19.
  13. ^ Feldherr, Andrew (1998), Spectacle and Society in Livy's History, London: University of California Press, p. ix.
  14. ^ Heichelheim, Fritz Moritz (1962), A History of the Roman People, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, p. 47.
  15. ^ Livy 1998, xi.
  16. ^ Seneca the Younger. Moral Letters to Lucilius. 100.9. Livy wrote both dialogues, which should be ranked as history no less than as philosophy, and works which professedly deal with philosophy (scripsit enim et dialogos, quos non magis philosophiae adnumerare possis quam historiae, et ex professo philosophiam continentis libros).
  17. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistles, II.3.
  18. ^ Tacitus, Annales IV.34: Brutum et Cassium laudavisse dicor, quorum res gestas cum plurimi composuerint nemo sine honore memoravit. Ti. Livius, eloquentiae ac fidei praeclarus in primis, Cn. Pompeium tantis laudibus tulit, ut Pompeianum eum Augustus appellaret: neque id amicitiae eorum offecit.
  19. ^ a b Foster 1919, p. 24.
  20. ^ Scott, Walter (1897). "6". Waverley. Adam and Charles Black. p. 570.
  21. ^ Harrison, John Baugham; Sullivan, Richard Eugene; Sherman, Dennis (1971). A short history of Western civilization. 2 (3 ed.). Knopf Publishers. p. 198. ISBN 0-394-31057-8.
  22. ^ a b "St. Jerome (Hieronymus): Chronological Tables – for Olympiads 170 to 203 [= 100 BC – 36 AD]". Attalus. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  23. ^ Livy (1994). Kraus, Christina Shuttleworth (ed.). Ab vrbe condita. Book VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-521-41002-9.
  24. ^ Fotheringham 1905, p. 1.
  25. ^ Livius, Titus (1881). Seeley, John Robert (ed.). Livy. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-86292-296-8.


  • Foster, B.O. (1919). Livy. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-99256-3.
  • Livy (1998), The Rise of Rome, Books 1–5, trans. TJ Luce, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Further reading

  • Chaplin, J. D. (2000). Livy’s Exemplary History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Damon, C. (1997). "From Source to Sermo: Narrative Technique in Livy 34.54.4-8." The American Journal of Philology, 118(2), 251-266.
  • Davies, J. P. (2004). Rome's Religious History. Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dorey, T. A., ed. (1971). Livy. London: Routledge.
  • Feldherr, A. (1998). Spectacle and Society in Livy’s History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony, eds. (2003), The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-860641-3.
  • Joplin, P. K. (1990). "Ritual Work on Human Flesh: Livy’s Lucretia and the Rape of the Body Politic." Helios 17.1: 51–70.
  • Kraus, C. S., and Anthony J. Woodman. (1997). Latin Historians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 51–81.
  • Levene, D. S. (2010). Livy on the Hannibalic War. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Linderski, J. (1993). Roman Religion in Livy. In Livius: Aspekte seines Werkes. Edited by Wolfgang Schuller, 53–70. Konstanz: Universitätsverlag Konstanz.
  • Miles, G. B. (1995). Livy: Reconstructing Early Rome. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Moore, T. J. (1989). Artistry and Ideology: Livy’s Vocabulary of Virtue. Frankfurt: Athenäum.
  • Rossi, A. (2004). "Parallel Lives: Hannibal and Scipio in Livy’s Third Decade." Transactions of the American Philological Association 134.2: 359–381.
  • Syme, R. (1959). Livy and Augustus. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 64:27–87.
  • Vandiver, E. (1999). The Founding Mothers of Livy’s Rome: The Sabine Women and Lucretia. In The Eye Expanded: Life and the Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Edited by Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton Jr., 206–232. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Walsh, P. G. (1961). Livy: His Historical Aims and Methods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

Ab Urbe Condita Libri

The book History of Rome, sometimes referred to as Ab Urbe Condita, is a monumental history of ancient Rome, written in Latin between 27 and 9 BC by the historian Titus Livius, or "Livy", as he is usually known in English. The work covers the period from the legends concerning the arrival of Aeneas and the refugees from the fall of Troy, to the city's founding in 753, the expulsion of the Kings in 509, and down to Livy's own time, during the reign of the emperor Augustus. The last event covered by Livy is the death of Drusus in 9 BC. About 25% of the work survives.


The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. They seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome's native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like all mystery religions of the ancient world, very little is known of their rites.

Livy, writing some 200 years after the event, offers a scandalised, extremely colourful account of the Bacchanalia. Modern scholarship takes a skeptical approach to his allegations of frenzied rites, sexually violent initiations of both sexes, all ages and all social classes, and the cult as a murderous instrument of conspiracy against the state. Livy claims that seven thousand cult leaders and followers were arrested, and that most were executed.

Senatorial legislation to reform the Bacchanalia in 186 BC attempted to control their size, organisation, and priesthoods, under threat of the death penalty. This may have been motivated less by the kind of lurid and dramatic rumours that Livy describes than by the senate's determination to assert its civil and religious authority over Rome and her allies, after the prolonged social, political and military crisis of the Second Punic War ( 218-201 BC ). The reformed Bacchanalia rites may have been merged with the Liberalia festival. Bacchus, Liber and Dionysus became virtually interchangeable from the late Republican era ( 133 BC and onward ), and their mystery cults persisted well into the Principate of Roman Imperial era.

Battle of Cannae

The Battle of Cannae () was a major battle of the Second Punic War that took place on 2 August 216 BC in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal, surrounded and decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. It is regarded both as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and as one of the worst defeats in Roman history.

Having recovered from their losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Lake Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with approximately 86,000 Roman and allied troops. They massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal used the double-envelopment tactic and surrounded his enemy, trapping the majority of the Roman army, who were then slaughtered. The loss of life on the Roman side was one of the most lethal single day's fighting in history; Adrian Goldsworthy equates the death toll at Cannae to "the massed slaughter of the British Army on the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916." Only about 15,000 Romans, most of whom were from the garrisons of the camps and had not taken part in the battle, escaped death. Following the defeat, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic to Carthage.

As news of this defeat reached Rome, the city was gripped in panic. Authorities resorted to extraordinary measures, which included consulting the Sibylline Oracles, dispatching a delegation led by Quintus Fabius Pictor to consult the Delphic oracle in Greece, and burying four people alive as a sacrifice to their Gods. To raise two new legions, the authorities lowered the draft age and enlisted criminals, debtors and even slaves. Despite the extreme loss of men and equipment, and a second massive defeat later that same year at Silva Litana, the Romans refused to surrender to Hannibal. His offer to ransom survivors was brusquely refused. With grim determination the Romans fought for 14 more years until they achieved victory at the Battle of Zama.

Although for most of the following decades the battle was seen solely as a major Roman disaster, by modern times Cannae acquired a mythic quality, and is often used as an example of the perfect defeat of an enemy army. It was studied by German strategists prior to World War II, and General Norman Schwartzkopf claimed to have drawn inspiration from Hannibal's success for his devastatingly effective land offensive in the First Gulf War.


The decemviri or decemvirs (Latin for "ten men") were any of several 10-man commissions established by the Roman Republic.

The most important were those of the two Decemvirates, formally the "Decemvirs Writing the Laws with Consular Imperium" (Latin: Decemviri Legibus Scribundis Consulari Imperio) who reformed and codified Roman law during the Conflict of the Orders between ancient Rome's patrician aristocracy and plebeian commoners. Other decemviri include the "Decemviri Adjudging Litigation" (Decemviri Stlitibus Judicandis), the "Decemviri Making Sacrifices" (Decemviri Sacris Faciundis), and the "Decemviri Distributing Public Lands" (Decemviri Agris Dandis Adsignandis).

First Macedonian War

The First Macedonian War (214–205 BC) was fought by Rome, allied (after 211 BC) with the Aetolian League and Attalus I of Pergamon, against Philip V of Macedon, contemporaneously with the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) against Carthage. There were no decisive engagements, and the war ended in a stalemate.

During the war, Macedon attempted to gain control over parts of Illyria and Greece, but without success. It is commonly thought that these skirmishes in the east prevented Macedon from aiding the Carthaginian general Hannibal in the war with Rome. The Peace of Phoenice (205 BC) formally ended the war.


Hannibal Barca (; Punic: 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤁𐤓𐤒, ḤNBʿL BRQ; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a general and statesman from Ancient Carthage who is widely considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War (264–241 BC). His younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal, and he was brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair; all also commanded Carthaginian armies.

Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power after it had established its supremacy over Italy. Although Rome had won the First Punic War, revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolised by the alleged pledge that Hannibal made to his father to never be a friend of Rome. The Second Punic War broke out in 218 after Hannibal's attack on Saguntum, an ally of Rome in Hispania. He then made his famous military exploit of carrying war to Italy by crossing the Alps with his African elephants. In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer several Italian cities allied to Rome. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years, but could not win a decisive victory, as the Romans led by Fabius Maximus avoided confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. A counter-invasion of North Africa led by Scipio Africanus forced him to return to Carthage. Scipio had studied Hannibal's tactics and brilliantly devised some of his own, and he finally defeated Rome's nemesis at the Battle of Zama, having previously driven Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal out of the Iberian Peninsula.

After the war, Hannibal successfully ran for the office of sufet. He enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome; however, those reforms were unpopular with members of the Carthaginian aristocracy and in Rome, and he fled into voluntary exile. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome. Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome's terms, and Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia. His flight ended in the court of Bithynia, where he achieved an outstanding naval victory against a fleet from Pergamon. He was afterwards betrayed to the Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself.

Hannibal is often regarded as one of the greatest military strategists in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Scipio Africanus. Plutarch states that Scipio supposedly asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself". Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because Roman armies adopted elements of his military tactics into their own strategic arsenal. Hannibal has been cited by various subsequent military leaders, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, as an inspiration and the greatest strategist of all time.


The lictor (possibly from Latin: ligare, "to bind") was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the custom may have originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilization.

List of Roman tribunes

The following is a list of Roman tribunes as reported by ancient sources.

A tribune in ancient Rome was a person who held one of a number of offices, including Tribune of the plebs (a political office to represent the interests of the plebs), Military tribune (a rank in the Roman army), Tribune of the Celeres (the commander of the king's personal bodyguard), and various other positions. Unless otherwise noted, all dates are reported in BC.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

Lucius Quinctius or Quintius Cincinnatus (; c. 519 – c. 430 BC) was a Roman patrician, statesman, and military leader of the early Roman Republic who became a legendary figure of Roman virtue—particularly civic virtue—by the time of the Empire.

Cincinnatus was a conservative opponent of the rights of the plebeians (the common citizens) who fell into poverty because of his son's violent opposition to their desire for a written code of equitably-enforced laws. Despite his old age, he worked his own small farm until an invasion prompted his fellow citizens to call for his leadership. He came from his plow to assume complete control over the state but, upon achieving a swift victory, relinquished his power and its perquisites and returned to his farm. His success and immediate resignation of his near-absolute authority with the end of this crisis (traditionally dated to 458 BC) has often been cited as an example of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, humility, and modesty. As a result, he has inspired a number of organizations and other entities, some named in his honor. In the United States, parallels are drawn between Cincinnatus and national hero George Washington, and, as such, the Society of the Cincinnati, the town of Cincinnatus, New York, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio are named after him.

Modern historians question some particulars of the story recounted in Livy and elsewhere but usually accept Cincinnatus as a historical figure who served as suffect consul in 460 BC and as dictator in 458 BC and (possibly) again in 439 BC, when the patricians called on him to suppress the feared uprising of the plebeians under Spurius Maelius.

Roman censor

The censor was a magistrate in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances.The power of the censors was absolute: no magistrate could oppose their decisions, only another censor who succeeded them could cancel it.

The censors' regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of the words censor and censorship.

Roman conquest of the Iberian peninsula

The Roman conquest of the Iberian peninsula was a process by which the Roman Republic seized territories in the Iberian peninsula that were previously under the control of native Celtiberian tribes and the Carthaginian Empire. The Carthaginian territories in the south and east of the peninsula were conquered in 206 BC during the Second Punic War. Control was gradually extended over most of the Iberian peninsula without annexations. It was completed after the fall of the Republic (27 BC), by Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who annexed the whole of the peninsula to the Roman Empire in 19 BC. The peninsula had various ethnic groups and a large number of tribes.

This process started with the Roman acquisition of the former Carthaginian territories in southern Hispania and along the east coast as a result of defeating the Carthaginians (206 BC) during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), leading to them leaving the peninsula. This established Roman territorial presence in Hispania. Four years after the end of this war, in 197 BC, the Romans established two Roman provinces. They were Hispania Citerior (Nearer Spain) along most of the east coast (an area roughly corresponding to the modern Spanish autonomous communities of Valencia, Catalonia and part of Aragon) and Hispania Ulterior (Further Spain) in the south, roughly corresponding to modern Andalusia.

Over the next 170 years, the Roman Republic slowly expanded its control over Hispania. This was a gradual process of pacification, rather than the result of a policy of conquest. Roman actions in Hispania were reactive. They responded to rebellions to suppress them, rather than seek annexation. It was driven by numerous rebellions by the local tribes. The Romans had to fight countless battles and lost a very large number of men. On one occasion, a Roman commander conducted a sweeping counterinsurgency operation in the west of the peninsula. Pacification and retention and extension of control over the local tribes was the priority. The Romans turned some of the native cities outside their provinces into tributary cities and established outposts and Roman colonies (settlements) to expand their control. There was little interest in Hispania on the part of the Roman senate. Governors who were sent there acted quite independently from the senate due to the great distance from Rome, and were interested mainly in military action for the political gains that came with victory. To Rome, Hispania was a faraway land, remote from her main interests—Italy and the eastern Mediterranean. Administrative arrangements were ad hoc measures undertaken by men on the spot. In the later part of this period, the Roman senate attempted to exercise more control in Hispania, but this was to try to curb abuse and extortion by the unsupervised officials in the peninsula. Hence, in this period, conquest was a process of assimilation of the local tribes into the Roman world and its economic system after pacification.

This changed after the fall of the Roman Republic and the establishment of rule by emperors in Rome. After the Roman victory in the Cantabrian Wars in the north of the peninsula (the last rebellion against the Romans in Hispania), Augustus conquered the north of Hispania, annexed the whole peninsula to the Roman Empire and carried out an administrative reorganisation. This was in 19 BC, 187 years after the expulsion of the Carthaginians from Hispania.

The Roman province of Hispania Citerior was significantly expanded and came to include the eastern part of central Hispania and northern Hispania. It was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Hispania Ulterior was divided into the provinces of Baetica (most of modern Andalusia) and Lusitania, which covered present day Portugal up to the River Durius (Douro), the present autonomous community of Extremadura and a small part of the province of Salamanca in today's Spain.

Roman dictator

A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were frequently appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla, and then by Julius Caesar. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.

Roman–Etruscan Wars

The Roman–Etruscan Wars were a series of wars fought between ancient Rome (including both the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic) and the Etruscans, from the earliest stages of the history of Rome. Information about many of the wars is limited, particularly those in the early parts of Rome's history, and in large part is known from ancient texts alone. Etruria was conquered by Rome in 264 BC.

Roman–Latin wars

The Roman–Latin wars were a series of wars fought between ancient Rome (including both the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic) and the Latins, from the earliest stages of the history of Rome until the final subjugation of the Latins to Rome in the aftermath of the Latin War.

Samnite Wars

The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars (343–341 BC, 326–304 BC and 298–290 BC) were fought between the Roman Republic and the Samnites, who lived on a stretch of the Apennine Mountains to the south of Rome and the north of the Lucanians. The first of these wars was the result of Rome's intervening to rescue the Campanian city of Capua from a Samnite attack. The second one was the result of Rome's intervention in the politics of the city of Naples and developed into a contest over the control of much of central and southern Italy. The third war also involved a struggle over the control of this part of Italy. The wars extended over half a century and the peoples to the east, north and west of Samnium (land of the Samnites) as well as the peoples of central Italy north of Rome (the Etruscans, Umbrians and Picenti) and the Senone Gauls got involved to various degrees and at various points in time. The Samnites were one of early Rome's most formidable rivals.

Second Macedonian War

The Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC) was fought between Macedon, led by Philip V of Macedon, and Rome, allied with Pergamon and Rhodes. The result was the defeat of Philip who was forced to abandon all his possessions in southern Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor. During their intervention, and although the Romans declared the "freedom of the Greeks" against the rule from the Macedonian kingdom, the war marked a significant stage in increasing Roman intervention in the affairs of the eastern Mediterranean which would eventually lead to their conquest of the entire region.

Servius Tullius

Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome, and the second of its Etruscan dynasty. He reigned 575–535 BC. Roman and Greek sources describe his servile origins and later marriage to a daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Rome's first Etruscan king, who was assassinated in 579 BC. Servius is said to have been the first Roman king to accede without election by the Senate, having gained the throne by popular support; and the first to be elected by the Senate alone, without reference to the people.

Several traditions describe Servius' father as divine. Livy depicts Servius' mother as a captured Latin princess enslaved by the Romans; her child is chosen as Rome's future king after a ring of fire is seen around his head. The Emperor Claudius discounted such origins and described him as an originally Etruscan mercenary, named Mastarna, who fought for Caelius Vibenna.Servius was a popular king, and one of Rome's most significant benefactors. He had military successes against Veii and the Etruscans, and expanded the city to include the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline hills. He is traditionally credited with the institution of the Compitalia festivals, the building of temples to Fortuna and Diana and, less plausibly, the invention of Rome's first true coinage.

Despite the opposition of Rome's patricians, he expanded the Roman franchise and improved the lot and fortune of Rome's lowest classes of citizens and non-citizens. According to Livy, he reigned for 44 years, until murdered by his daughter Tullia and son-in-law Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. In consequence of this "tragic crime" and his hubristic arrogance as king, Tarquinius was eventually removed. This cleared the way for the abolition of Rome's monarchy and the founding of the Roman Republic, whose groundwork had already been laid by Servius' reforms.

Third Macedonian War

The Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC) was a war fought between the Roman Republic and King Perseus of Macedon. In 179 BC King Philip V of Macedon died and was succeeded by his ambitious son Perseus. He was anti-Roman and stirred anti-Roman feelings around Macedonia. Tensions escalated and Rome declared war on Macedon.

Most of the war was fought in Macedon as well as neighbouring Thessaly, where the Roman troops were stationed. After an inconclusive battle at Callinicus in 171 BC, and several more years of campaigning, Rome decisively defeated the Macedonian forces at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC, bringing the war to a close.

Rome's victory ended the Antigonid dynasty and brought an effective end to the independence of the Hellenistic kingdom of Macedon, although formal annexation was still some years away. The kingdom was divided into four client republics, each subservient to Rome. Roman prestige and authority in Greece was greatly increased as a result.

Valerius Antias

Valerius Antias (fl. 1st century BC) was an ancient Roman annalist whom Livy mentions as a source. No complete works of his survive but from the sixty-five fragments said to be his in the works of other authors it has been deduced that he wrote a chronicle of ancient Rome in at least seventy-five books. The latest dateable event in the fragments is mention of the heirs of the orator, Lucius Licinius Crassus, who died in 91 BC. Of the seventy references to Antias in classical (Greek and Latin) literature sixty-one mention him as an authority on Roman legendary history.

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