When Livy began his epic The History of Rome, he had no idea of the fame and fortune he would eventually attain. He would go on to become the most widely read writer in the Roman Empire and was eagerly sought out and feted like a modern celebrity. And his fame continued to grow after his death. His bombastic style, his intricate and complex sentence structure, and his flair for powerfully recreating the searing drama of historical incidents made him a favorite of teachers and pupils alike. Along with Virgil and Cicero, Livy formed the Latin triumvirate of essential studies for 2,000 years.
Hardly anyone who was educated was unaware of at least some of the more famous stories of Roman myth and history as told by Titus Livius. When completed, Livy's magnificent work consisted of 142 "books" (i.e. long chapters) and covered the period from the mythical founding of Rome through the time of Augustus. Books 1 - 10 and 21 - 45 are all that have come down to us in reasonably complete form. Volume 1 consists of books 1 - 5, which takes us from the founding of Rome in the eighth century BC to its sack by the Gauls in 390 BC. The Audio Connoisseur series will eventually come to six volumes. This version was translated by Roberts.
Public Domain (P)2010 Audio Connoisseur
Despite being hopelessly biassed at times Livy manages to give us the Roman side of the story in a beautifully written and dramatic account of conflicts both political and millitary. Unfortunately Livy starts off slow. After his account of the reign of the kings, which was interesting, his descriptions of the early republic pretty much boil down to a seemingly endless recounting of election results and millitary conflicts with little or no critical commentary. Things get intriguing again at the end of Volume I with the rise and fall of the Decimvirs.
Frankly I would recommend listeners to start with Volume II or III of this work unless you really want to understand Rome's early political development. Initially, Livy seems to pretty much stick to his sources and not add much of his own to the story, but towards the end of Volume I and really beginning in Volume II, he begins to give differing accounts and his own critical analysis of events and becomes much more interesting. In volume II, the battles get much more interesting and the listener is taken step by step through Rome's domination of Italy. Volume III can be summed up by the name Hannibal.
What I got got out of Volume I was a deeper understanding of how the idea of a Republic came into being and how the Romans viewed society. While there are a lot of things that Livy doesn't state outright, much can be inferred by "listening" between the lines. The picture of early Rome presented by Livy shows the hard and often bloddy struggle between partisans of Democracy and Oligarchy (ie the plebs and patricians) which eventually produced the system that came to dominate the modern Western world. Their system had many of the same problems ours does today, notably the tension between political elites and those skilled at populist rhetoric.
Charlton Griffin is a master narrator, nothing more need be said.
First one of these for me I was impressed I have of course heard of Livy and have read small portions of it in the past but this was something else and new I plan to list to it again and get more info out of it. The writing and narrator at times made it hard to listen to but the second time should be much better.
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