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The Rise of Rome Books One to Five: Bks. 1-5 (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 14 Aug 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed. / edition (14 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540044
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

T. J. Luce is Kennedy Professor of Latin Emeritus at Princeton University.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Professor Luce, an eminent Livian scholar, has rendered the first five books of Livy's "Ab Urbe Condita" in concise English that not only retains the essence of the Latin but also conveys the vividness of the narrative. In other words, he tells the tales of the founding of Rome in an entertaining manner that is accessible to today's students, who have little patience for long-winded or stilted prose.

The book includes an informative introduction, two maps, a brief chronology, and copious notes. My only quibble is with the index, which has been geared for scholars of Roman history. For example, a student looking up the dictator Cincinnatus must be aware that he is listed by the gens name of Quinctius (There is no cross-reference.); and then the student has to decide between Titus, Lucius, and Quintus. While this is good practice for the serious scholar of Roman history, it might be infuriating for the casual reader (One hopes that Oxford will correct this flaw in a future edition). Nevertheless, the book is so enjoyable that I recommend it highly and have adopted it for my Roman Civilization class.

Four-and-one-half-stars!
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Format: Paperback
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 (literally) story: 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. The stories of Romulus and Remus mothered by the wolf, Horatius at the bridge, the rape and suicide of Lucretia, 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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For those of you who don't know, Livy was a historian who lived in the time of Augustus. He wrote a history of Rome from its birth up to his own time: the 'Ab urbe condita libri' which was comprised of 142 books. Only 35 still exist in a reasonably complete form. The following are available in the same series:

Hannibal's War: Books 21-30
The Dawn of the Roman Empire: Books 31-40
Rome's Mediterranean Empire: Books 41-45 and the Periochae

This volume consists of Books 1-5 and and details major historical events such as the birth of Rome, the story of Romulus and Remus; the ongoing battles with neighbours such as the Sabines and Veii; the dictatorship of Cincinattus and the sack of Rome by the Gauls which closes this first volume.

The translation is good and there are many valuable footnotes to establish context. They also help to clear up the frequent inconsistencies in Livy's account (Livy didn't seem to be one for fact-checking!).

Of course the style of these will not be to everyone's taste but those interested in classical history will enjoy this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Some Comments on the Translation 5 Mar. 2010
By Ovidius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Livy's history is fast-paced and colourful. T. J. Luce's notes are very helpful and his translation is very readable, but sometimes his word choices are so modern as to be jarring; for example, "iure gentium," "the law of nations," is anachronistically translated as "international law" in the first half of the book, although it then becomes "the law of nations" in the second half. Another jarring anachronism is "sadist" for "carnifex," a word that means "executioner" (2.35)--not the sexual cruelty named after the Marquis de Sade. And since there are so many Latin-English cognates that have a similar connotation I find it misleading when translators take such liberties. Here are some other examples:

"legum humanarum" becomes "civilized" (1.28, Luce) whereas the Loeb and Sélincourt have "laws of humanity." "inhumanumque" is translated as "barbaric" (1.48) instead of "inhuman." Since the concept of the human as a moral standard is a new one at that time (I'm thinking in particular of the idea of "humanitas"), it is essential to keep it in the text. If Livy had meant "barbaric" he could have used "barbari." To make matters worse, "saevi exempli" (savage example) is later translated as "inhuman example."

"sceleris tragici exemplum" is translated as "a tragic spectacle to rival those of Greece" (1.46). Luce's gloss of "to rival those of Greece" is helpful, but Foster's use of a footnote to make the gloss in the Loeb translation allows the translation itself to remain more literal.

In such cases, it's as if the translator is trying to "improve" upon Livy by using a different word from the one Livy used. But comparing it to the original, I think the more faithful translation is the more colorful and powerful one. Further, if you're really trying to enter into the thought of the original, or are using the translation for academic writing, then it is very helpful to have a translation that stays as close to the original as possible.

However, while the Loeb generally seems to be more faithful that is not always the case. For example, the Loeb awkwardly translates "iniuste impieque" (I.32) as "unduly and against religion" whereas Luce more fittingly has "unjustly and impiously."

For "puro pioque duello" (1.32), Luce has "a pure and pious war" (1.32, Luce) and Foster "warfare just and righteous."

For "iusta ac legitima" (1.48), Luce has "just and legitimate" and Foster "just and lawful."

Thus, sometimes Luce is admirably literal but other times his translations are rather loose.

[Edited Feb 13, 2015]
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Livy for Contemporary Readers 13 Jun. 2009
By F. S. L'hoir - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Professor Luce, an eminent Livian scholar, has rendered the first five books of Livy's "Ab Urbe Condita" in concise English that not only retains the essence of the Latin but also conveys the vividness of the narrative. In other words, he tells the tales of the founding of Rome in an entertaining manner that is accessible to today's students, who have little patience for long-winded or stilted prose.

The book includes an informative introduction, two maps, a brief chronology, and copious notes. My only quibble is with the index, which has been geared for scholars of Roman history. For example, a student looking up the dictator Cincinnatus must be aware that he is listed by the gens name of Quinctius (There is no cross-reference.); and then the student has to decide between Titus, Lucius, and Quintus. While this is good practice for the serious scholar of Roman history, it might be infuriating for the casual reader (One hopes that Oxford will correct this flaw in a future edition). Nevertheless, the book is so enjoyable that I recommend it highly and have adopted it for my Roman Civilization class.

Four-and-one-half-stars!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Introduction 12 Jun. 2013
By Katherine Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The introduction to this translation of Livy is immensely helpful. It provides a structural and thematic understanding of the work that guides your reading in a productive manner, and is definitely worth the read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Translation 11 Sept. 2013
By anisotropies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent Translation of Livy's Rise of Rome. The book is a fun read that delves into the legends of the Roman Kings and the beginnings of the hallowed Roman Republic. It's a must read for anyone seeking an escape from today's turmoil.
4.0 out of 5 stars The fates ordained the founding of this, the world's mightiest empire 31 May 2016
By HH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The scholarly interest in Livy has blossomed in the past two decades, not only producing works that look at the merits of Livy's history and historiography, but also demonstrating the need for new translations and new commentaries. T..J. Luce's new translation of Books 1-5 of Livy's "Ab Urbe Condita" adds another offering to the growing list of translations in the Oxford World's Classics series. Unlike other works for which there are already a number of translations, Luce's rendering of Books 1-5 is the first in over thirty years. Aubrey de Sélincourt's translation in the Penguin series has long stood as the only option for those wanting Latinless students to read the primary extant source for Rome's early history. Although Sélincourt's translation has served its purpose, the liberties he took have never sat comfortably with those who desire a stronger reflection of the Latin. In contrast, Luce's translation follows not only the style but also the content of Livy's Latin with accuracy, allowing the reader to almost picture Livy's own words. At times, however, this faithfulness, particularly in the attempt to reflect participial clauses and ablative absolutes, interferes with the ease of reading that one would hope for in a translation.
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