Livius, Titus

, the most celebrated of the Roman historians, was born at Patavium, or Padua, and descended from an illustrious family, which had given several consuls to Rome. Few circumstances of his life are known, as none of the ancients have left any thing about it; and so reserved has he been with regard to himself, that we should be at a loss to determine the time when his history was written, if it were not for one passage which seems to prove that he was employed on it about the year of Rome 730. He was then at Rome, where he long resided; and some have supposed that he was known to Augustus before, by certain dialogues, which he had dedicated to him. Seneca, without noticing the dedication, mentions these | dialogues, whjch he calls historical and philosophical; and also some books, written purposely on the subject of phi* losophy. All this appears doubtful, but there is reason to think that he began his history as soon as he was settled at Rome; and he seems to have devoted himself entirely to it. The tumults and distractions of that city frequently obliged him to retire to Naples, not only that he might be less interrupted in his historical labours, but enjoy that tranquillity which he could not have at Rome. He appears to have been much dissatisfied with the manners of his age, and tells us, that “he should reap this reward of his labour, in composing the Roman history, that it would take his attention from the present numerous evils, at least while he was employed upon the first and earliest ages.

It is said that he used to read parts of his history, while he was composing it, to Mæcenas and Augustus; and that Livia conceived so high an opinion of him, as to intend to commit to him the education of young Claudius the brother of Germanicus, but his death prevented his enjoying this honour. On the demise of Augustus, he returned to Padua, where he was received with all imaginable honour and respect; and there died, A. D. 17, at the age of seventy, or seventy-six.

Scarcely any man was ever more honoured, both in his life-time and after his death, than this historian. Pliny the younger relates that a gentleman travelled from Cades, the extreme part of Spain, to see Livy; and, though Rome abounded with more stupendous and curious spectacles than any city in the world, immediately returned; because, after having seen Livy, he thought nothing worthy of his notice. To the following story, however, we cannot so easily give credit. A monument was erected to this historian in the temple of Juno, where the monastery of St. Justina was afterwards founded. There, in 1413, was discovered the following epitaph upon Livy: “Ossa Titi Livii Patavini, omnium mortalium judicio digni, cujus prope invicto Calamo invicti Populi Romani Res gestaa conscriberentur.” In 1451, we are told that Alphonsus, king of Arragon, sent his ambassador, Anthony Panormita, to desire of the citizens of Padua the bone of that arm with which this their famous countryman had written his history; and, obtaining it, caused it to be conveyed to Naples with the greatest ceremony, as a most invaluable relic. He is said to have been assisted in his recovery from an ill state of health, by | the pleasure he found in reading this history; and therefore, out of gratitude, was induced to pay extraordinary honours to the memory of the writer."

This ridiculous story, which has been repeated in the former editions of this Dictionary, as well as in other accounts of Livy, took its rise from the ignorance or knavery of those who reported it; and having been refuted by Gudius, and more fully by Morhof (“De Livii Patav.” cap. iii.), ought long ago to have been displaced. The epitaph at Padua was, when written without the contractions, “Vivus fecit Titus Livius, Livice Titi filise quartae, libertus Halys, concordialis Patavi, sibi et suis omnibus;” i. e. This monument was erected by himself and his family by Titus Livius Halys, the freedman of Livia, a daughter of one Titus Livius, who probably lived many ages after the historian. Halys was his name, while he continued in servitude, and Titus Livius the name of his patron or master, which he assumed, as was usual in those cases, when he received his freedom. He had perhaps borne some office in the temple of Concordia at Padua, which might possibly have stood in the place where the epitaph was discovered, and hence the title Concordialis. But the monks of the fifteenth century, who valued themselves on having discovered the bones of the celebrated historian, attended only to the name of Titus Livius; never reflecting, that this was a common name, and might have belonged to twenty others; that in the Augustan age, dead bodies were usually burnt, and not buried within the walls of cities; and that, admitting Livy had been buried, it was very improbable that any of his bones should have remained unconsumed in the ground above 1400 years.

The History of Livy, like other great works of antiquity, is transmitted down to us exceedingly mutilated and imperfect. Its books were originally an hundred and fortytwo, of which are extant only thirty-five. The epitomes of it, from which we learn their number, all remain, except those of the 136th and 137th books. They have been divided into decades, which some think was done by Livy himself, because there is a preface to every decade; while others suppose it to be a modern contrivance, since nothing about it can be gathered from the ancients. The first decade, beginning with the foundation of Rome, is extant, and treats of the affairs of 460 years. The second decade is lost, the years of which are seventy-five. The third | decade is extant, and contains the second Punic war, ineluding eighteen years. It is reckoned the most excellent part of the history, as giving an account of a very long and sharp war, in which the Romans gained so many advantages, that no arms could afterwards withstand them. The fourth decade contains the Macedonian war against Philip, and the Asiatic war against Antiochus, which takes up the space of about twenty -three years. The first five books of the fifth decade were found, at Worms, by Simon Grynaeus, in 1431, but are very defective; and the remainder of Livy’s history, which reacheth to the death of Drusus in Germany, in the year 746, together with the second decade, are supplied by Freinshemius. Many discoveries have been reported of the lost books of Livy, but these have generally proved forgeries. The last, by Joseph Vella, was very recently exposed, by Dr. Hager in Better’s Berlin Journal.

The encomiums bestowed upon Livy, by both ancients and moderns, are great and numerous. Quinctiliau speaks of him in the highest terms, and thinks that Herodotus need not take it ill to have Livy equalled with him. In general, probity, candour, and impartiality, are what have distinguished Livy above all historians. Neither complaisance to the times, nor his particular connexions with the emperor, could restrain him from speaking so well of Pompey, as to make Augustus call him a Pompeian. This we learn from Cremutius Cortlus, in Tacitus, who relates also, much to the emperor’s honour, that this gave no interruption to their friendship. Livy, however, has not escaped censure as a writer. In the age in which he lived, Asinius Pollio charged him with Patavinity, a word variously explained by writers, but generally supposed to relate to his style. The most common opinion is, that Pollio, accustomed to the delicacy of the language spoken in the court of Augustus, could not bear with certain provincial idioms, which Livy, as a Paduan, used in various places of his history. Pignorius is of a different opinion, and considers Patavinity as relating to the orthography of certain words, in which Livy used one letter for another, according to the custom of his country, writing “sibe” and “quase” for “sibi” and “quasi;” which he attempt* to prove by several ancient inscriptions. Chevreau maintains, that it does not concern the style, but the principles of the historian: the Paduans, he says, preserved a long | and constant inclination for a republic, and were therefore attached to Pompey; while Pollio, being of Caesar’s party, was naturally led to attribute to Livy the sentiments of his countrymen, on account of his speaking well of Pompey* It seems remarkable that there should exist such difference of opinion, when Quinctilian, who must be supposed to know the true import of this Patavinity, has referred it entirely to the language of our author. MorhofPs elaborate treatise, however, is highly creditable to his critical skill. The merit of Livy’s history is so well known, as to render it unnecessary to accumulate the encomiums which modern scholars have bestowed on him. With these the school -boy is soon made acquainted, and they meet the advanced scholar in all his researches. His history was first printed at Rome, about 1469, by Sweynheym and Pannartz, in folio. Of this rare edition, lord Spencer is in possession of a fine copy; but the exquisite copy on vellum, formerly in the imperial library at Vienna, now belongs to James Edwards, esq. of Harrow; and is perhaps the most magnificent volume of an ancient classic in the world. Of modern printing the best editions are, that of Gronovius, “cum Notis variorum & suis, Lugd. Bat. 1679,” 3 vols. 8vo; that of Le Clerc, at “Amsterdam, 1709,” 10 vols. 12mo that of Crevier, at “Paris, 1735,” 6 vols. <Ko of Prakenborch, Auist. 1738, 7 vols. 4to of Ruddiman, Edinburgh, 1751, 4 vols. 12mo; of Homer, Lond. 1794, 8 vols. 8vo and that of Oxford, 1800, 6 vols. 8vo. Livy has been translated into every language. The last English translation was that of George Baker, A. M. 6 vols. 8vo, published in 1797, which was preceded by that of Philemon Holland, in 1600; that of Bohun, in 1686; and a third, usually called Hay’s translation, though, no such name appears, printed in 1744, 6 vols. 8vo.1


Gen. Dict. art. Porcius and Panormita. —Vossius de Hist. Lat. Seneca: Epist. Suetonius in vita Claudii. Plinii Epist. Qitintiliau Inst. Orat. Taciti Anneles IV. 34. —Saxii Onomast. Dibdin’s Classics, and Bi