(BEING CONTINUED FROM 5/10/14)
Born in 59 at Padua, and died 17. Spent much of his life composing the 142 book Ab Urbe Condita, of which 1-10 and 21-45 survive, along with some fragments and summaries
The Plan of Livy’s Work and Historiograhic Method
Livy returned to an annalistic structure, rejecting the monography of Sallust. He began with Aeneas’s flight from Rome, and reached the death of Drusus in 9 BC in Book 142. He may have planned to reach book 150 with the death of Augustus.
Books 1-10 go down to 289, while 21-45 cover 218-167. The whole thing was divided into decades from at least the fifth century, and the division may go back to Livy himself. Like most Latin historians, the narrative scale increased as he approached
his own time More than half of his history dealt with the age of the Gracchi on.
Livy relied on many sources. For the first decade he used almost exclusively annalists, particularly the more recent ones such as Antias, Macer, and Claudius Quadrigarius. For Roman expansion into the east Polybius came into play and gave Livy a unified vision of the Mediterranean world. Neither Fabius Pictor nor Cato seems to have had much impact. Livy relied almost solely on literary sources, and does not seem to have made any effort to use documentation or inscriptions that might have been available. Some have criticized him as a mere exornator rerum,who dramatized what he found in the literature. Some scholars would leave Livy out of the development of Latin historiography from Sallust to Tacitus, that is,outside of senatorial historiography. This contains some elements of truth, but there isn’t a direct opposition between senatorial history (written to educate politicians) and literary history with lots of moralizing. Livy is less aggressive than Tacitus, and lacks the skepticism and rationalism of Sallust and Tacitus, but he is still a fundamentally honest historian.
The New Regime and the Tendencies of Livy’s Historiography
The Augustan regime did not seek to dominate history as it did poetry. Livy was not part of the opposition, but he was not an uncritical supporter either. Tacitus said that Livy was a Pompeian, but we can’t evaluate this without the books that
dealt with the civil wars. He praised Brutus and Cassius too. This didn’t bother Augustus, who was more eager to show himself as restorer of the Republic than the heir of Caesar. Given Livy’s hatred of demagoguery and praise of values, it seems
that he and the new regime found lots to agree on.
But this did not translate into total celebration. Lacking the narrative of the Civil Wars, we can’t understand this for sure. But in the preface Livy does not seem to regard the Augustan settlement as wholly satisfactory. He probably failed to see Augustus as the destroyer of all the seeds that caused civil war. Livy refers to Rome’s past as a refuge from the distress he feels when narrating more recent events, an implicit criticism of Sallust, who placed contemporary crisis at the center of history. Livy tries to view the crisis in the general context of Roman history.
Justification of the Roman Empire emerges very forcefully from Livy. It is due to the strong bond of fortuna and virtus in the Roman people. No other people could stand up to the moral force of the Romans. This may be due to Livy’s tendency to
idolize the past – more contemporary periods may have been far darker. For Livy,images of the past are models of social and individual behavior, both positive and negative.
Livy is sharply opposed to the style of Sallust, and comes much closer to the Ciceronian ideal for history Where Sallust is brief and condensed, Livy is ample,flowing, and luminous, without artifice or harshness. Livy gave much more space to the dramatic presentation of a story than Sallust, but didn’t allow it to overwhelm the historical framework – the rape of Lucretia is a good example.
Livy’s history is not a political study, but a narrative of human personalities and representative individuals. There is a moral passion, inherited from the Hellenistic schools. Livy wants to show that moral and intellectual qualities have a decisive
influence on events. He immerses himself in the affairs he describes and brings to life his characters and scenes. Indirect discourse is skillfully used to suggest the hidden minds of crowds and people. Speeches delineate the thoughts of individuals and show impedutous ardor that the listeners feel.
But Livy’s pathetic qualities in no way approach those of Sallust. Livy prefers and airy, sentimental manner, with more ethos than pathos, which lends an epic,monumental manner to the text. This rivaled the Sallustian school in antiquity.
Livy was clearly a follower of Cicero’s precepts on history, although while Cicero’s periods are intended for speaking, Livy’s, with an overload of detail, are for reading.
Livy was wildly popular in his lifetime and had great influence on historians like Tacitus and poets like Lucan and Silius Italicus. Seneca, Tacitus, and Quintilian all praise his literary qualities. But the great mass of his work made preservation difficult. Large numbers of summaries were made. The last record of a complete Livy is from 401.
Directions in Historiography
Asinius Pollio and the History of the Civil Wars
Asinius Pollio continued the tradition of senatorial history. A follower of Antony, he maintained his independence under Augustus and pursued a wide array of literary interests. He was a noted orator of the Atticist school, and an implacable foe of Cicero. His Histories, written starting in 35, covered the years 60-42. Pollio was apparently unafraid to tackle controversial matters, but he does not seem to have displayed open opposition to Augustus.
As an Atticist, Pollio favored a very spare, primitive Thucydidean style, and did not hesitate to attack other historians like Caesar and Sallust. Not enough remains of his own writings to judge how well he did, but he seems to have been spare to the
point of obscurity.
Autobiography and Propaganda: Augustus
Both Agrippa and Augustus wrote comentarii on their own lives. Augustus seems to have followed Sulla in trying to put a halo around his own life with lots of references to prodigies and prophecies.
Pompeius Trogus and Reflections of Anti-Roman Opposition
Trogus came from Gaul Narbonensis and wrote a Historiae Philppicae in 44 books.
This is lost, but an abridgement by Justin survives from the second or third centuries AD The title recalls the Philippicae of Theopompus, but Pompeius wrote a universal history, even if the greater part of the narrative was concerned with Macedonian history. Rome is only treated in the last two books, which seems to show that Pompeius considered Macedonia the greatest empire, or at least that Roman hegemony is only the most recent of many.
Pompeius Trogus relied heavily on the Greek historian Timagenes, who was very anti-Roman. However, this does not seem to have been true of Pompeius’s work. As far as we can tell, Pompeius was an imitator of Sallust in terms of style. He preferred indirect discourse to direct.
The Historiography of Consensus: Velleuis Paterculus and Valerius Maximus Tiberius lacked ability as a literary organizer. But he did find an impassioned fan in Velleius, who served under Tiberius in Germany. His history in two books (with large gaps) covering Rome from the remote past down to the present. When it gets to Tiberius, it becomes a virtual panegyric, in contrast to the senatorial traditions.
Velleius is also interested in cultural history and talks about the emergence of Greek culture in Rome and the evolution of public tastes.
Valerius Maximus also expressed warm support for Tiberius in nine books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings, published around 31-32 after the fall of Sejanus.
His collection is technichally a book of exempla, of models of vices and virtues for use in rhetorical schools. It looks on the Romans as superior to other peoples, and celebrates the mos maiorum.
The Historiography of the Senatorial Opposition
The strongest trends in history under Tiberius were those in opposition., and expressed itself in the worship of republican models like Cato as in history. At least one historian, Labienus, had to suffer his works being burnt and committed suicide.
Cremutius Cordus’s work almost suffered a similar fate, but survived, he did not.
Other noted opposition historians include Servilius Nonianus, a major source for Tacitus, and Aufidius Bassus.
Historiography as Literary Entertainment: Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus is a mysterious figure who wrote a history of Alexander in 10 books. The first two are lost and there are major gaps elsewhere. His dating is terribly unclear, with suggestions ranging from Augustus to Theodosius, but perhaps he belongs to immediately after the reign of Caligula.
Alexander the great was always a popular figure for the Romans, and had acquired an important place in a sort of romantic literature in fabulous places. Curtius’s work derives from this train, and is written in an intense, colorful style, reminiscent
of Livy. But he is more narrator than historian, and he employs sources quite casually, sometimes contradicting himself. Clitarchus and Timagenes are the two most important sources. Curtius is more interested in a romantic narrative.
Scholarship and Technical Disciplines
Scholarship and Grammatical Studies in the Augustan Age
The greatest grammarian of the time was Verrius Flaccus, whose works on grammar and scholarship are all lost. His Fasti were used extensively by Ovid. His name is principally linked to the De Verborum Significatu, a glossary of rare words.
It does not survive, but a partial abridgement does by Festus, which was in turn abridged by Paul the Deacon.
The Technical Disciplines in the Age of Augustus and the Julio-Claudians Architecture is represented by Vitruvius Pollio, who published De Architectura in 10 books between 27 and 23 BC. For Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of the providential order of nature. Thus, the architect needs a rich and varied education,especially in philosophy.
Medicine is represented by Celsus, who wrote a vast encyclopedia on the six arts –agriculture, military, medicine, oratory, philsophy, and law. He tries to maintain a position between rationalism and empiricism, and is a very elegant writer.
Agriculture is represented by Columella. De Re Rustica came out in two editions,we have one book on trees from the first, and the whole of the second edition. The tenth book is in hexameters and attempts to fill a gap on gardens in the Georgics.
Columella is a much more exacting writer than Varro and Cato, and he criticizes the lack of schooling in agriculture. He writes with the big latifundia in mind,although he criticizes it frequently.
Geography is represented by Agrippa and Pomponius Mela. Marcus Agrippa drew up a gigantic map of the whole world, with commentary, which was set up in the Campus Martius after his death. Pomponius Mela lived under Claudius and left a Chorographia in three books, which describes the world starting at the straits of Gibralter and going counter-clockwise. He is mostly interested in ethnography.
Culture and Spectacle: The Literature of the Early Empire
The End of Patronage
The second generation under Augustus had been little touched by the civil wars,and so felt less grateful towards him. The death of Maecenas created a gap between political powers and the intellectual elite that would only occassionally be bridged.
Tiberius did nothing about this, except inspire nasty senatorial histories. Even the learned Claudius did nothing.
Nero tried to reestablish patronage, and there was a brief upswing in literature.
Nero was especially interested in performance and established a poetry competition.
His histrionic spirit and drive towards hellenisation sparked a backlash in the conservative senatorial tradition. The Flavians continued public competitions, but pulled back from Nero’s Greek leanings. Vespasian in particular renewed rhetorical
training for the ruling class.
Literature and Theater
Pantomime was introduced under Augustus and rapidly became popular. It was a theatrical representation with an intense dramatic action. One actor sang to musical accompanient, another masked actor mimed the events. We have no music or libretti, but Seneca and Juvenal give evidence for its extreme popularity. The only thing that rivaled it were Circus games, which became increasingly spectacular. This love of spectacle is reflected in much of the poetry from this time
( TO BE CONTINUED )
BY GIAN BIAGIO CONTE
PROFESSOR OF LATIN LITERATURE (1941)