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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mythic re-telling of the foundation of Rome
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,...
Published on 25 Sep 2006 by Roman Clodia

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Irritatingly imprecise
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...
Published on 17 July 2004 by Jem


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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
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Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
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
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 (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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
This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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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1.0 out of 5 stars Vocabulary unhelpful, 15 Feb 2014
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The vocabulary claims to be helpful but has mistakes and is inconvenient to use. It would be better to have a latin/english dictionary as the default on your kindle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 14 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Livy's style of writting is quite enjoyable and this book is great as it is perfect for me, as I can use it within my studies. If your interested in ancient history, or need a primary source book for a course, The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 are brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted, 29 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Early History of Rome: Bks. 1-5 (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
It's Livy - well translated and annotated this is a bit of a grind even for the devoted scholar, but between the lines one gains insight into the political power play of the times. What is left unsaid is as important as what is recorded
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4.0 out of 5 stars A true classic, 31 Jan 2001
The story of Rome before it ruled an empire. In places it seems to rush you along, and in others it can seem like just a list of events. Mostly though it gives you a fascinating view of the characters of early Rome, and tells some legendary stories extremely well.
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