Read Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10 by Livy Free Online
Book Title: Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10|
The size of the: 879 KB
Edition: Oxford University Press (UK)
Date of issue: March 14th 2013
ISBN 13: 9780199564859
The author of the book: Livy
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10:Livy's second set of five books of history covers just over one hundred years and deals mainly with wars against the Samnites and the Etruscans and the Gauls and the appetite of the sacred chickens. Occasionally the chickens are off their feed, which delays battles and hinders campaigns - nobody wants to fight when the chickens are hungry. Otherwise the slaughter is prodigious, so much so that I imagine in those days that every pregnancy ended in the birth of twins - how else could populations be maintained in the face of all the battlefield death that is described. Ultimately, Livy implies, the Romans more or less kill everyone except a few wise communities which roll over on their backs and lick the hand of Rome in a friendly way. Livy has an extended passage imagining how the ancient Romans would have beaten Alexander the Great black and blue had he troubled to invade Italy rather than Persia, the Persians he explains are orientals and thus effeminate and soft, hanging about in harems with eunuchs, while the Romans are manly men who worry about the feeding habits of their chickens. Given this was written some fifty years after Roman forces had been utterly crushed by the famously effeminate Parthians, one has some measure of the strength of the geographical determinism of Livy's outlook. This allows him to shape up the Samnites as wild mountain men, and hence manly enough to be worth while enemies of Rome, curiously he paints them as overly religious in the same text as Livy writes positively about the faith of the ancient Romans as opposed to the irreligious Romans of his day who chose a Dictator to hammer a nail into a temple wall as a cure for the plague (p59) and who are always alert to happy omens - such as a bird landing on the commander's helmet and then, Hitchcock style, attacking the enemy.
We are still as in The Early history of Rome a little in fairy-tale land as despite the Samnites having different socio-economic structures to Rome they appear to have an identical military and political set-up, perhaps they did, it is hard to say (Pontius Pilate is said to have been a Samnite, on the basis not of his famously clean hands, but of their being a Gaius Pontius among the Samnite leaders). Several times Roman commanders 'devote' themselves to their army - buying victory from the gods in exchange for their own lives, hinting that we are in a very different mentalite from Livy's own time, the basic perception of the universe is a religious one and curiously holistic, a ritual hammering of a nail can protect people from epidemics, how chickens eat does reveal the will of the gods, who do intervene in life giving victory in exchange for promised temples (view spoiler)[ and therefore a Vestal Virgin had to be buried alive for being insufficiently virginal (allegedly) (hide spoiler)]. These for Livy are the good old days, the modern times of Augustus by contrast hopelessly declined, amusingly the Claudians one half of the dynasty which provided the early emperor's of Rome are relentlessly portrayed as Imperious to the point of being bigoted against the Plebeians, perhaps Livy had a bad feeling about the potential succession to Augustus. The Samnites are worthy opponents - defeating Rome at Caudine forks, while the Gauls are all mouth and no trousers - big but unable to fight with manly seriousness for an entire battle, the Etruscans just get defeated - repeatedly.
Livy is no historian but a story-teller, often he points out differences of opinion or fact between his sources,but like the Bible just repeats both or multiple versions rather than arriving at some kind of reasoned judgement as to the most likely account. All stories are (mostly) equal in his eyes though he recognises that some may be self-serving.
Read information about the authorTitus Livius (Patavinus) (64 or 59 BC – AD 17)—known as Livy in English—was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people – Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Books from the Foundation of the City) – covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time. He was on familiar terms with the Julio-Claudian dynasty, advising Augustus's grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, as a young man not long before 14 AD in a letter to take up the writing of history. Livy and Augustus's wife, Livia, were from the same clan in different locations, although not related by blood.
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