Livy - the Roman historian
Welcome to Study Guides!



Livy was a Roman historian who was born in northern Italy about 59 BC, in the Late Republic, when Julius Caesar was just beginning his career. Livy moved to Rome and wrote his books during the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. He wrote an account of the history of Rome from the beginning of the Republic in 509 BC to the reign of Augustus, in 142 books (we would call them chapters today).

Unfortunately, most of these books have been lost. We only have 35 of them left. But these books tell us a lot of what we know today about the beginnings of Rome and the Punic Wars.

Livy was especially interested in showing that people won when they were good, and lost when they were bad. Mainly, Livy shows Romans as good and their enemies as bad. For instance, he shows the Carthaginian general Hannibal as sneaky and savage, while Scipio, the Roman general, is honest and merciful. That's not because Hannibal was really bad and Scipio was really good; it's just what Livy wanted us to see, because he was a Roman like Scipio, and because he liked a story to have a good moral lesson. Probably both Scipio and Hannibal were good, strong leaders, or they wouldn't have been so successful.

Livy lived to be about eighty years old, and died during the reign of Augustus.

Pliny the Younger

Bibliography and further reading about Livy:

More about Roman literature
Ancient Rome home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more? is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 27 April, 2017