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• Have you never read,' says Pliny the Younger, in one of his letters, that an inhabitant of Cadiz was so much excited by the distinction and glory which Livy had acquired, that he came from the remotest quarter of the globe to visit him, and, immediately on his having seen him, departed ?' The distinguished historian, TITUS Livius, to whose genius so extraordinary a tribute was paid, was born at Patavium, (now Padua, a town of Venetia, in the north of Italy,) in the 695th year of Rome. In his case, as in that of most others, distinguished merely for their literary fame, we are unfortunately ignorant of nearly every thing connected with his history calculated to throw light upon the early pursuits which formed him to excellence. Of his education, of the time when he removed to Rome, and the manner in which he first attracted notice, we are utterly ignorant. But we may form at least a plausible conjecture as to the circumstances which drew upon him the regards of the Emperor Augustus. It is not improbable that a dissertation of his, wherein he treats of philosophy, applied to history, produced this result. No history of Rome, deserving the name, existed before his time ; and we know that the disjointed, scanty and unsatisfactory annals which contained the records of the Roman state, called forth from Cicero loud reprehension and regret. It is not surprising, therefore, that a prince like Augustus, who courted the praise of patronising learned men in general, (whatever may have been the circumstance that introduced Livy to this notice) should have hailed, with the utmost satisfaction, the appearance of one, who, from his industry, his love of country, his powers of narration, and the philosophic eye with which he surveyed the progress of events, seemed destined to supply so obvious a deficiency in Roman literature. We accordingly find, that he lived on terms of intimacy with that prince, and that he was even offered by Livia the office of tutor to Claudius, the Emperor's grandson. This intimacy must have been productive
of great advantage to him, in opening up both public and private sources of information, whilst it has never led him to boast of a friendship so flattering, or to pervert the truth, even in events where the emperor's family was most deeply interested.
Whilst engaged in the composition of the work, he seems to have resided partly at Rome and partly at Naples. From a passage in the Ist Book, (19th chapter,) where he states that the temple of Janus bad only been twice closed posterior to the time of Numa, once after the termination of the first Punic war, and again after the battle of Actium, we obtain a probable conjecture, as to the date of the commencement of the work. The temple of Janus was shut in consequence of the battle of Actium, A. U. c. 725; Livy must therefore have begun his history posterior to this date. But it was again shut, 730, and some date betwixt these years must therefore be fixed as the time when he entered on his work, whilst his mention of the death of Drusus proves that he had not finished it till after that event, which took place in 744 ; his labours being thus continued for at least twenty years.
His domestic history is almost entirely conjectural, and is confined to the belief that he was married twice, and had two sons and four daughters, the youngest of whom was married to a rhetorician, L. Magius. He is said to have retired to Padua on the death of Au. gustus, and to have died in the fourth year after that event, in the 76th year of his age, A. U. c. 770, and A. D. 17, the same year which witnessed the death of Ovid.
Livy's stupendous History of Rome extended from the foundation of the city (containing besides a rapid detail of the circumstances leading to that event) to the death of Drusus, a period of 744 years. It was divided into 140, or (as others with greater probability maintain) 142 books. Following the former number, the whole was ar. bitrarily arranged at a later period, in decades or divisions, containing each ten books. Of the whole there remain only thirty-one books entire, and four nearly so. It will be easily seen in what state the work has come down to us from the following table.
1st Decade,-Books 1-10 inclusive, comprehending 460 years, entire.
2d Decade,-Books 11-20 inclusive, comprehending 76 years, lost.
3d Decade,-Books 21-30 inclusive, comprehending 16 years, entire. 4th Decade, S Book 42,
comprehend- s entire. | Books 41, 43, 44, 45, S ing 34 years, I nearly entire. Of the other books we have only fragments.
These, which have too probably been irretrievably lost, are said to have met this fate from the hostility of the Emperor Caligula, and of Pope Gregory, to the writings of Livy, as well as the reluctance with which the monks shrunk from copying a work so ponderous. By aid, bowever, of the fragments, and of the Epitomae of
OF TITUS LIVIUS.
nearly the whole work, (only two being lost,) composed either by Livy himself, or more probably by some skilful annotator, as well as of other sources, Freinshemius has, with great success, endeavoured to fill up the blank thus left in Roman History.
As a writer of history, Livy has ever held a most distinguished rank. It is true, that he evinces a striking, sometimes a reprehensibles partiality for the people, to whose fame he has consecrated his genius. It is true, that he often errs in neglecting to avail himself of the sources of information open to him, and, when he has so availed himself, in misunderstanding his authorities from want of careful and patient research, in mistaking the object of institutions, and in writing at variance with himself. It is true, likewise, that he does pay too much attention to the recording of prodigies, and gives the dignity of history to the ravings of childish superstition. But some of these errors and they are by no means numerous in proportion to the magnitude of the undertaking) may be pardoned, on account of the extent of the work, others on that of the weakness of human nature, and many as arising from the genius of the age in which he wrote. Apart, however, from such considerations, these charges never remain in the mind when engaged in the perusal of Livy. They are all swept away by the uniform and majestic flow of his narration, the graphic imaginativeness of his details—his sympathy with all which adds to the grandeur of his theme, and the lofty scorn which he breathes on aught which tends to derogate from Roman greatness.
The first five books of this great work are particularly interesting, as they contain, what was believed by the Romans themselves, to be the origin of their early institutions. As all the early records of Rome perished in the sack of that city by the Gauls, tradition "supplied the place of more authenticated materials. There is, therefore, much room for doubt as to some events, and for total disbelief as to others. We accordingly find many writers questioning much of the historic, and, latterly, almost all of the political detail, which was formerly assented to, without dispute, as the history of infant Rome. At the head of these stands Niebuhr; but even he admits the great interest connected with the current notions of the Romans themselves as to their early history,-above all, the surpassing merits of Livy, in his mode of managing the traditional history,—justly pronouncing the termination of the first book to be his masterpiece as a historian.
The 1st book, after detailing the events which led to the foundation of Rome, embraces a period of 244 years, including the reigns of the seven kings, Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Martius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus,--the rise of various political institutions and their changes, and the overthrow of the monarchy.
The 2d book embraces a period of 43 years to A. U. c. 287, including the establishment of consular power,—the unsuccessful attempts of the banished royalists to effect a restoration,—the conse
quent tyranny of the nobility,—the origin of plebeian influence, after many fierce struggles, in the creation of tribunes' of the commons, and the wars in which the republic was continually engaged.
The 3d book extends from A. 0. C. 287 to 310, a period of 22 years, interesting from its details of the mode by which Rome gradually acquired conquest after conquest, but, above all, from its account of the origin, progress, and fall of the decemviral power.
The 4th book begins A. U. c. 310, and comprehends a period of 51 years, remarkable for the gradual success of the plebeians in obtaining a share of the honours of the state, the device of appointing military tribunes, the rapid progress of the Roman arms, and the advance to permanent military discipline, by bestowing pay on the soldiers.
The 5th book, which (along with the 6th) might with great propriety be called a life of Camillus, begins A, U. c. 351, in the third year of the memorable siege of Veii, captured by that general,comprehends his after exploits,
his banishment,--the progress of the Gauls in Italy,—the sack of Rome in 365, by that fierce people, --their expulsion by Camillus,—and the success with which he combated a general wish of his countrymen to emigrate to Veii, and leave the ruins of the fallen city,
The five books now presented to the reader thus embrace a period
of 365 years.