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into decades, so convenient for purposes of reference, was Division into
in all probability not made by Livy himself, decades. though it is possible to make out various groups of five, ten, or fifteen books which form units within the limits of the whole.
Book I. covers 244 years, the time of the kings, besides the brief summary of the Trojan and Alban myths; the first decade extends to the close of the second Samnite war; the lost second decade told of the third Samnite, the Pyrrhic, and the first Punic war and the interval before the second ; the entire third decade is devoted to the second Punic or Hannibalic war. Book XLV. brings us to the year 167 B. C., and the triumph of Paulus after the conquest of Macedonia ; so that the remainder of the history, ninety-seven books, covered 158 years, less than two years to a book, showing that the lost portions were much more detailed than the extant portions.
The legend of the foundation of the city, which many annalists had treated at great length and adorned with later
fables of Greek invention, Livy gives in short and Treatment of the legendary simple form. Similar in spirit is his treatment period.
of the history of the kings, in which he followed such annalists as Piso and Tubero, doubtless borrowing some features of the story from the poet Ennius. Throughout the first decade he followed various annalists, and here he was led into some blunders, as he afterward discovered, by Valerius Antias.
On coming to the second Punic war, he found contemporary authorities to draw upon. All through the third decade may
be traced an extensive use of Coelius Antipater. Authorities for the third In Books XXI. and XXII. he expressly mentions decade.
Fabius and Cincius, and it is evident that he consulted a number of other annalists, to whom he refers by
general expressions. Here was available the great Greek historian, Polybius, whose universal history in forty
Polybius. books extended from the beginning of the second Punic war to the destruction of Carthage and Corinth. Polybius was one of the thousand Achaeans exiled to Italy in 167
He lived on intimate terms with the younger Scipio and his friends, and supplemented his exceptional opportunities for gathering information by extensive travel in the east and west. He treated his subject in a critical and philosophic spirit, was impartial in his attitude and sure in his judgment. His style was clear, simple, and unadorned, his matter admirably arranged; and though his work is in some places dry reading, it was a most excellent source of information for subsequent writers.
From the beginning of the third decade many passages of Livy correspond with Polybius, some of them word for word; but there are numerous variations which are hard to explain on the supposition that Livy copied directly from Polybius. So it is doubtful whether he had Polybius before him at first, or was simply following Coelius, who drew from the same source as Polybius, namely, Silenus. But there is no doubt that after the affairs of Macedonia and Greece became involved in the narrative, Livy made constant use of Polybius, that is, from Book XXIII. onward, though he does not expressly mention him before Book XXX. ch. 45. So it is possible that even from the beginning of the decade he used Polybius to supplement and correct his chief authority, Coelius.
It is not fair, in charging Livy with negligence and credulity, to judge him by the standard of modern historical methods. The classical and mediaeval historians, in treating
Livy's uncritof times prior to their own, were content to take ical methods the writings of previous chroniclers as the basis not peculiar.
of their own work, to transcribe bodily without naming the earlier author, and to amend or modify if they saw fit.
It was only when they reached contemporary events that their labor became original and independent. A critical inves
tigator of facts like Polybius was a rare exception. Difficulty of research in The physical difficulty of a thorough collation of ancient times.
authorities in antiquity was a stupendous obstacle to critical research. The most industrious of modern investigators, if deprived of printed books, modern libraries and carefully arranged state archives freely opened to students, could accomplish comparatively little. Few of the ancients could possibly have made thorough preliminary studies of their subjects, in any such sense as we now understand the words. Besides, a searching examination of all authorities was foreign Livy's purpose
to Livy's purpose, which was moral and artistic, not not critical.
critical. It was to a large extent impossible under the conditions of his age and was not desired by his contemporaries. And so when he is accused of writing from chroniclers and not from documents, and while we must admit that he made no effort to discover new documents, and did not even take the trouble to examine those that were within his reach, we must also remember that this was the fashion of his age, not his peculiar fault. We should be doing him great injustice if we failed to recognize his sincere desire to tell the truth, which he regarded as the first duty of the historian, and of which he continually gave evidence. In those days, history that was already ancient was regarded as closed and settled. People expected to find in the annalists all there was to know of the subject, and so, for the time before 390 B. C., Livy looked upon them as his only source.
The result of this ancient method was, of course, much confusion and contradiction, most of which will never be satisfactorily elucidated It is peculiarly unfortunate that, through
the loss of all the later books which treated of recent and contemporary events and were addressed to a
Impossibility public able to detect errors of fact or deficiency of judging him of information, we are not in a position to esti- as an original
historian. mate Livy as an original historian.
He has been reproached, moreover, with having confined himself too exclusively to the narration of events, and with having neglected all that concerned civilization, institutions, laws, manners, literature, and the arts. This character he shares with nearly all the ancients, who had little idea of the philosophy of history, cared not for abstract discussion, and preferred, when they had to explain the causes of events, to put their reflections into the mouths of their personages. This practice was not natural, to be sure, but its improbability was atoned for by the great oratorical beauties of which it was the occasion.
Though we know so little about the facts of Livy's life, in his works we learn to know and love him. His central theme is the grandeur of eternal Rome. He gives the index to his mental attitude in his preface. It as shown in is evident that he took a patriotic pleasure in his his work. work as a consolation for the death of republican freedom, and for the present which contained so much that was saddening to his heart.
He had an earnest moral purpose, to hold up before the degenerate Romans of his own day the picture of the virtues of their ancestors, which had made the brave days of old so truly glorious. This he was able to do ness. better than any of his predecessors, by his poetic instinct, his rare rhetorical and dramatic talent, and that unusual power of sympathetic treatment which renders all that is high and noble so attractive to his readers. His ethical purpose is all the better fulfilled because he does not stop to moralize.
He had a lofty conception of the Roman virtues, — forti. tude, valor, magnanimity, candor, obedience to authority, selfrestraint, incorruptible integrity, self-sacrificing patriotism, which led him often to idealize the heroes of the olden time. When forced to disapprove of the conduct of his countrymen, he condemns it as un-Roman.
We realize his firm belief in Rome's destiny to dominion and permanence, - a destiny resting upon the national character. So he deeply regretted the decay of the old-fashioned sturdy virtues and the ancient religious faith of the people, and felt with Augustus and with Horace the necessity for their revival. He was free from superstition, but was pious and reverent.
Though he accepted the imperial rule as established by Augustus, and lived on friendly and even intimate terms with Republican
the emperor, it was rather with resignation than and aristocratic with enthusiasm. The existing state of things sympathies.
was the best possible under the circumstances, but not the ideally best. His heart was with the older, better time of liberty, the only condition worthy, in his view, of men of self-respect. And by liberty he did not understand the license of the many, the mob rule of democracy, but the tempered, self-restrained, law-abiding freedom of the best days of the aristocracy, when the counsels of the state were really directed by her wisest and best citizens. His admiration for the Pompeian party, whose side Patavium had espoused in the civil war, was based upon an ideal conception of their objects as an attempt to restore that long-perished condition of the republic. And so, though his sympathies are essentially aristocratic, he disliked all that was violent or subversive of the peace and order of society, and hated an aristocrat like Appius Claudius, the decemvir, as heartily as the most turbulent tribune of the plebs.
His nature was intensely conservative, and so, with poetic