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The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Livy , R M Ogilvie , Aubrey De Selincourt
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Mar 2002 Penguin Classics
Livy (c. 59 BC-AD 17) dedicated most of his life to writing some 142 volumes of history, the first five of which comprise The Early History of Rome. With stylistic brilliance, he chronicles nearly 400 years of history, from the founding of Rome (traditionally dated to 757 BC) to the Gallic invasion in 386 BC - an era which witnessed the reign of seven kings, the establishment of the Republic, civil strife and brutal conflict. Bringing compelling characters to life, and re-presenting familiar tales - including the tragedy of Coriolanus and the story of Romulus and Remus - The Early History is a truly epic work, and a passionate warning that Rome should learn from its history.

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The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) + Rome and Italy: The History of Rome from its Foundation: Rome and Italy Bks.6-10 (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)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (28 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140448098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140448092
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Livy's historical imagination enabled him to bring alive the great characters and scenes of Rome's past.

Most of Livy's (c. 59 BC–AD 17) life was devoted to writing his monumental History of Rome which comprised 142 books. It brought him great fame, and legend has it that a man came all the way from Cadiz just to look at him. The Early History of Rome contains the first five books and proceeds from the foundation of Rome through the history of the seven kings, the establishment of the Republic and its internal struggles, up to Rome's recovery after the fierce Gallic invasion of the fourth century BC. Here readers will encounter the famous story of Romulus and Remus among a number of other familiar legends and tales.

For more titles in the Penguin Classics range, visit's Penguin Classics Bookstore. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Aubrey de Sélincourt (1896-1962) translated Livy, Heroditus, and Arrian for Penguin Classics. Robert Ogilvie (1932-1981) taught classics and published widely on Roman writers, religion, and history.

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First Sentence
The task of writing a history of our nation from Rome's earliest days fills me, I confess, with some misgiving, and even were I confident in the value of my work, I should hesitate to say so. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mythic re-telling of the foundation of Rome 25 Sep 2006
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have dismissed this because of the 'inaccuracy' of the history, but the very idea of history in classical times was different from our definition: there was no strict divide between literature, history and (moral) philosophy and so we shouldn't judge ancient works by the same criteria that we might use of modern history books. Livy, writing under Augustus, was, like his contemporary Vergil, mythologising about the foundation of Rome, and his story of where the Romans came from and how the Roman character was formed, tells us more about Roman self-identity (or the way they wanted to see themselves) at the turning point between the Republic and the principate than about the past.

Having said that, Livy tells a fabulous story! My Latin's unfortunately not good enough to be able to judge the accuracy of the translation, but the content is amazing: from the early kings to their expulsion by the first Marcus Brutus and the beginning of the Republic, from Rome's small beginnings to her conquests and domination of Italy, it's all here. All the familiar stories of Romulus and Remus mothered by the wolf, Horatius at the bridge, the rape and suicide of Lavinia, the tragic story of Corialanus and his mother are here, and it's fascinating to read them in their original context.

Livy is lively, tragic, vivid and witty and that all comes over in the translation. Read this together with Vergil and compare their creative conception of what it means to be Roman, where they have come from and where they are going.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put down! 8 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i am obsessed with all aspects of Roman history so this book was a must have and i must say it amazed me with the quality of the description of the foundation of Rome. an amazing book for anyone interested in the starting history of the roman empire
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Livy at his best 20 Oct 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I definitely preferred this book to The War With Hannibal, as the subject matter is even more fascinating and the style is more lively. There are the odd 'dry' sections but they are few and widely spread.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good enough for Pliny, and for me 4 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Livy must have enjoyed getting cramp in his hands, considering how much he wrote on the history of Rome. For me, this is the most interesting volume available, although I prefer the writing style of 'The war with Hannibal' and other bits.
Great book, but you won't finish it in one night.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Irritatingly imprecise 17 July 2004
By Jem
Whatever its other merits, the Selincourt translation is not good from the standpoint of accuracy. Imagine my fury when, having spent part of my dwindling student's allowance on this book, I discovered it was of little or no use in helping me to read closely through the original text. I think 'paraphrase' might have been a better description than 'translation'. Steer clear, those of you looking for anything remotely resembling the Latin.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Livy: A Master of History 6 Oct 2003
It doesn't matter that the books need to be taken with a pinch of salt, when the writing is this good! The tales of honour and betrayal against the vivid backdrop of the founding of ancient Rome are so much more exciting than any modern writing I've read lately. Mixing Thucydides' gift for battle scenes and politics, and Suetonius' gift for humour, Livy is a fantastic writer who deserves to be read.
The translation is smooth and energised, and the only crime is that many of Livy's 100+ books have been lost.
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