Livy was born in Padua, Italy in 59 BC. He is one of the few Roman historians who did not hold government office. Livy wrote 142 books of which 35 have survived. His greatest work was the The Early History of Rome, which covered the period from the foundation of the city to 9 BC.

Although a talented writer, Livy gained a reputation as a careless historian who made a lot of factual errors. Livy was a very patriotic writer and is sometimes guilty of distorting the truth in order to portray Rome's enemies as the aggressors. In his books Livy claims that Rome conquered the world in self-defence.

Livy died in AD 17.

Primary Sources

(1) Livy, The Early History of Rome (c. 25 BC)

The dreadful vision was now before their eyes; the towering peaks, the snow-clad pinnacles soaring to the sky... the people with their wild and ragged hair, stiff with frost... There was great confusion and excitement amongst the men, and still more among the terrified horses... the horses were soon out of control... In the confusion many men were flung over the sheer cliffs which bounded each side of the pass, and fell to their deaths thousands of feet below. But it was worst for the pack-animals. Loads and all, they went tumbling over the edge almost like falling masonry.

(2) Livy, The Early History of Rome (c. 25 BC)

The Roman people were not living under a monarchy but were free. They had resolved to throw their gates open to enemies rather than have kings.