The Early History of Rome by Livy

BOOK I - Rome Under the Kings

  • “The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.” (30)
  • sounds familiar… “Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought us, through every form of sensual excel, to be, if I and so put it, in love with weather both individual and collective.” (30)
  • starts with Trojans and Latins being joined
  • Romulus and Remus rescued by wolf, Romulus kills Remus and is the first king who expands with military might (such as stealing women from neighboring cities with a fake festival, drawing troops out of a city and then demolishing them). He was supposedly taken up into the sky by a cloud
  • Numa Pompilius ruled peacefully, imbued religious devotion
  • Tullus Hostilius again ruled with force. 3 v 3 brothers in war with Alba; Rome victorious but killed his sister. Defeated the Sabines, then killed by the plague. (69)
  • Ancus Marcius mixed religion and war, built pile bridge across Tiber, and was a great administrator
  • Tarquinius Priscus came to Rome and grew in influence, became king by sending Ancus' sons away on hunting expedition,
  • Servius Tullius was son of refugee and raised in the palace, king attacked with axe and pretended he was still alive while he grabbed power, census with classes,
  • Tarquinius Superbus (the proud), married Tullia (after they killed their spouses), ousted the king, stood up visiting senators, ruled as a dictator, rape and suicide of Lucretia

BOOK II - The Beginnings of the Republic

  • Brutus conscripted new senators to replace those killed by Tarquin
  • Anther Tarquin, Collantinus, came to power but exiled himself out of fear of retribution
  • Publius Valerius became consul,
  • Former members of the royal court, argued in favor of a king: law was inflexible and "had no ears", but at least a king was human
  • Tarquin family hatched a plot to retake the throne, but were caught by a slave and letters proved them guilty (2.4)
  • Valerius became consul and with Brutus fought Tarquin attack, Brutus died while killing Arruns, Rome won (2.6)
  • Valerius suspected of monarchical ambitions, but took actions to distance himself and became popular (2.7)
  • Consuls: Valerius and Titus Lucretius
  • Horatius Cocles saved Rome at the Tiber bridge when the Eteuscans attacked (2.9)
  • But they stated a siege, Marcius tried to kill the king but actually got his secretary but was released for his bravery and the king sued for peace (2.13)
  • Consuls: Publius Lucretius and Publius Valerius

Topic: History

Source: C.C. Pecknold (when asked what to read before The City of God)


Created: 2016-11-30
Updated: 2022-07-05-Tue