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History of Rome from Its Foundation: Rome and the Mediterranean (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 May 1976

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History of Rome from Its Foundation: Rome and the Mediterranean (Penguin Classics) + The War with Hannibal: The History of Rome from its Foundation Books 21-30: The History of Rome from Its Foundation Bks. 21-30 (Classics) + Rome and Italy: The History of Rome from its Foundation: Rome and Italy Bks.6-10 (Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (27 May 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140443185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443189
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Titus Livius (59BC-AD17) began working on his History of Rome at the age of 30 and continued for over 40 years until his death. The history ran to 142 books, of which 35 survive.

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I. I have reached the end of the Punic Wars; and this gives me a feeling of personal satisfaction, as if I myself had shared in its hardships and dangers. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tea Granny on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good translation of classical text, of expected Penguin standard.
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By Mat Snow on 12 Mar. 2015
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
war and politics in republican Rome 29 Jun. 2001
By Cliente Amazon - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I first started reading Livy's "The War with Hannibal", the book that cronologically precedes "Rome and the Mediterranean", I was not sure if I was going to be able to get to the end of it. I had never read Livy before and it is a long book. As it happened, immediately after I finished reading "The War with Hannibal" (hereafter referred to as WWH) I started reading "Rome and the Mediterranean", which is no less long, and no less good. I wrote a comment on WWH and everything I said of Livy there equally holds true here: he is a remarkable narrator and, though partial to the Romans, his style is measured and believable. As a historian, he is no less inventive than other fellow historians of his time. But his accounts are extremely detailed and always interesting. It could be said that WWH is more atractive than this book because it relates the Second Punic War, the story of Hannibal's invasion of Italy, one of the most interesting episodes in the entire history of the world. I would venture the following comparison: WWH resembles a novel. The whole book deals with Rome's war against Carthage, be it in Italy, Spain of Africa. Hannibal is the main character and Scipio Africanus, Fabius Maximus and Marcellus the secondary ones. On the other hand "Rome and the Mediterranean" is more like a collection of short stories. It is full of different anectodotes, stories and situations. Of course all of them revolving around the conflicts Rome had against Greece, Macedon and Asia during the years 200-167 BC, but there is no other unifying principle. Here you will find a variety of plots and characters. I know this comparison is arguable but I think it can convey an approximate idea to someone who hasn't read the book. I would also like to point out that while WWH is mainly a military history, this book is also a politcal one as well. Not only we find descriptions of battles and tactics, but a detailed account of the complex politics between the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Aetolians, the Acheans and the different kings of the multiple states of Greece and Asia, and their relationships with Rome. All this changing history of treacheries, pacts, leagues, alliances and complots is wonderfully and clearly portrayed, written with Livy's characteristic mastery of the craft. And you will also find here a sequel to the events of WWH: you will find out, for example, what happened with Scipio Africanus and Hannibal after the battle of Zama (what tragic and similar destiny!, both great men dying in exile and distanced from their own people; Plutarch should have written their biographies together in his Parallel Lives). Because of this, I would advise you to read both books, if you have the opportunity, and in cronological order: first WWH and afterwards "Rome and the Mediterranean" (don't let the length of both books combined intimidate you!). This is a very good edition (although a couple of more detailed maps would have been helpful) and so is the translation.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Livy Brings Rome to Life 15 Jun. 2000
By AntiochAndy - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have been fascinated by Roman history since I was a teenager, and over the years I have read the works of many of the classical historians. Livy has always been among my favorites. A contemporary of Augustus, Livy wrote a full history of Rome from its beginnings up to his own time. Tragically, only a portion of his work has survived. This book contains his History from Rome's legendary beginnings up through 167 B.C. except for books XXI through XXX, which deal with the war against Hannibal and are published separately.
His source material being necessarily limited, much of the early history is sketchy. However, Livy seems to draw on as much material, whether traditional or documentary, as he could muster. Further, he wrote with the desire to both inform and entertain. His work is lively and dramatic and he has a knack for vividly portraying the principal personalities. Like other ancient historians, Livy isn't bashful about inventing dialogue for his leading protagonists, but this adds an air of reality to what would otherwise become a dry narrative.
This is classical history at its best and I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in ancient Rome.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
How to Subjugate the Eastern Mediterranean Without Really Trying 17 May 2012
By jeffergray - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've given this book 5 stars, so in the interest of full disclosure, I should concede that 24 years passed between when I started it and when I finished. I first began it in July 1988, was enjoying it, got to page 245 -- and then I put it down, not to pick it up again until February of this year. I think I had trouble finishing this book originally because I took it up right after finishing "Livy's The War with Hannibal" (676 pp. in its Penguin edition), and 900+ pages of Livy was just too big a dose in too short a time. When I came back to this book again this winter, I was able to bring a fresh perspective to my reading, and I developed a renewed appreciation for Livy's virtues as a historian.

Livy has a reputation as a vivid writer of popular history, but he isn't considered as serious a historian as his predecessor Polybius, who wrote about some of the same periods. But you shouldn't sell Livy short. Yes, it's true that he produced a historical account of Rome's early years that, while full of cracking good tales, credulously assumes that it is possible to write history about events 400-700 years ago in the absence of any remotely contemporary accounts. And he can't quite bring himself not to record various reported portents or prodigies at key points in his narrative (Book 43, Ch. 13), even if he admits to some skepticism about them. But his history of Rome's first centuries has preserved for us how the citizens of the early Empire themselves understood their past. Likewise, his accounts of various improbable prodigies serve to underline just how superstitious and credulous many Romans were.

Beyond that, I find it simply amazing that anyone toiling in an age without typewriters or word processors, and with no photocopiers, could have researched and written a history in 142 books, of which the mere 35 that survive total 1800 pages in the somewhat abridged Penguin editions. Livy also brought an informed critical judgment to his sources; he cites them with some frequency, and when his judgment of them is skeptical -- as it is at Book 39, ch. 52 -- he tells you what his sources say and sets out his reasons for disagreement in careful and scrupulous detail.

You can (and should) read "Rome and the Mediterranean" on two different levels. First, there is the volume's macro theme: Livy's account of the three wars between 200 and 167 BCE by which Rome came to dominate the entire eastern Mediterranean. These are: the Second Macedonian War against the kingdom of Macedon and Philip V (201-197 BCE) (pp. 23-129); the First Syrian War against the Seleucid Empire and Antiochus III (190-187 BCE) (pp. 203-334); and finally the Third Macedonian War against Philip's son Perseus (171-167 BCE) (pp. 415-648).

In addition to this, however, there are accounts of other Roman struggles in Spain, Gaul, and Liguria (I was constantly surprised by just how much other fighting the Romans did on an ongoing basis, even aside from their most famous wars); of the complex politics and rivalries of the squabbling Greek states such as Sparta and the Aetolian and Achaean confederacies; of the domestic tragedy of Philip V's younger son Demetrius, outmaneuvered and ultimately murdered by his elder brother Perseus; and of various domestic events at Rome itself.

Perhaps my favorite of the latter were Livy's description (Book 34) of the campaign of Roman women in 195 BCE to secure repeal of the Lex Oppia, the anti-sumptuary law enacted during the darkest days of the Second Punic War following the battle of Cannae that prohibited women from wearing colored dresses with more than one hue or more than the tiniest bit of gold jewelry, or riding in horse-drawn carriages. This resulted in a mass feminine protest that might be called "Occupy the Forum," until finally Rome's embattled and beset Senate (perhaps somewhat reluctantly) overrode the protests of conservatives and repealed the statute.

There are other pleasures like his two-page description of the lengthy career of an obscure centurion who petitioned the Senate to be excused from further military duty (pp. 517-18), or of a remarkable archaeological find below the Janiculum Hill in 181 BCE of two huge stone chests with inscriptions dating to the sixth century, BCE reign of Numa Pompilius, one of Rome's Etruscan kings (pp. 464-65).

In short, Rome and the Mediterranean is much more than just an account of Rome's wars against the Hellenistic monarchs of Macedon and Syria, vivid and important though its account of those conflicts is. It presents a panoramic and detailed portrait of the entire Mediterranean basin from Spain to Asia Minor during the years when Roman domination of that world became an inevitability. And it is filled with vivid personalities unforgettably sketched out by Livy's pen. There's the Macedonian king Philip V, an exceptionally able administrator, but a ruler whose avarice and cruelty prove responsible for the start of his kingdom's decline; the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III "the Great," who somewhat frivolously triggers a conflict with Rome that results in the loss of a quarter of his kingdom and also puts it on a permanent downhill course; Hannibal of Carthage, old, discouraged, frustrated by Antiochus's foolish disregard of his sound advice, and finally hounded to his death by the Romans; the Roman general Quinctus Flaminius, who tries to give their Greek states their liberty, only to have them prove too quarrelsome and short-sighted to preserve it; Nabis of Sparta, a surprisingly resilient forerunner of tyrants like Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein; Publius Scipio (Africanus), Rome's boy wonder general of the Second Punic War, who dies while still in middle age, neglected and disregarded; and the formidably competent Lucius Aemilius Paulus, who wraps up the Third Macedonian War, stalemated for forty months, in a brilliant campaign that took just 15 days and culminated in a battle in which the Macedonian army suffered losses of 20,000 dead and 6,000 prisoners, as against Roman casualties of barely 100 men -- but who then returns home to find his disgruntled soldiers trying to deny him a triumph because he reserved too much of the booty for the state treasury, and who within days of the triumph belatedly granted him by the Senate, suffers the loss of two of his four sons to illness.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Decent, not Livy's best. 6 Nov. 2013
By Jason Goetz - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will admit off the top that this book did not interest me--in its subject matter--as much as the earlier volumes of Livy's famous history, especially the birth of Rome and the one about the Second Punic War. I am not a lover of Greece after the Peloponnesian War and especially after Alexander the Great.

Nevertheless I found value in it, as I usually do in classics. It holds clear relevance for the present: Rome's dealings with multiple Greek kings of similar outlook and conduct serves as an immediate reminder of our recent conflicts with Mubarak and Qaddafi and others in the same North African region. The end was, for me, more intriguing than the beginning. I particularly enjoyed the Roman envoy circling around Antiochus and demanding his adherence to a Roman-imposed peace. I enjoyed watching Perseus fall victim to his own arrogance and criminality. The long speech justifiying the triumph of Aemelius Paulus was in my opinion one of the greatest speeches of all time, even if written by Livy and not by the speaker to whom he attributed it, and deserves to be studied alongside those of Cicero and Demosthenes and Clay and Churchill.

I was a little bit frustrated at how much was cut out. I could not tell whether this was due to lacunae in the existing manuscripts or to the editor's judgment. Still at 648 pages of text it was more than enough for me, and I am thankful to be done with all 2100 extant pages of Livy!
Very good for history lovers. 10 Jan. 2015
By MLou - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great for history buffs.
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