Archive for November 5th, 2010

Early Roman history

Friday, November 5th, 2010

As I am an avid fan of classic history I like to collect works written by the historians of those times as those books are also viewed from the perspective of the author. I have purchased two works by the famous Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy for those who only know his Anglicized name): The Early History of Rome and Rome and Italy. Technically these together are Books I-X of his history Ab Urbe Condita (From the Foundation of the City). As these belong to his earliest works they were written around 25 BC. With these books I’ve completed the available works of this great history as I already owned Books XXI-XLV (no more complete Books are available except for fragments). I have those in the Dutch translation in two very fine volumes. Books I-X were published previously and are out of print while I’ve never seen any second hand copies. Because of this I decided to pick up the English Penguin editions, which are relatively cheap. If there is ever a reprint of the Dutch version I will still surely purchase those eventhough there is little annoying Anglicization of Latin names in those older Books.

For those who wonder what time these Books cover: The Early History of Rome spans about the period 750 until 400 BC, while Rome and Italy covers the period 400 till 300 BC. The aforementioned Books XXI-XLV cover the period 220 until 170 BC, focusing on the war against Hannibal and activities in Greece.

Besides these older works I also bought a little more recent work by Cassius Dio from the Echo Library. This is Volume 6 of their series Dio’s Rome (233). Cassius Dio wrote a similar but smaller work as Livius, but now spanning the times until his own present time. I already have his histories covering the power struggles after the death of Julius Caesar between 44 and 31 BC and the reign of Augustus (31 until 12 BC and from 9 until 14 AD). I didn’t buy earlier and later histories as I already have works spanning those times, although he fills in a gap between 37 and 44 AD that exists in the Annals of Tacitus. Maybe I still will. I already have several overlapping histories and it’s not that bad to have different view points. Those others works by Cassius Dio exist in regular editions, but the period after 54 AD is very fragmented except for his last book which covers the period 221 until 229 AD. This book is in Volume 6 and a complete story reads much better than fragments. Even so, as this is the last volume and only one book is short, two thirds of the volume contains all the collected fragments from the foundation of Rome until 145 BC. So in a sense this history also covers early Roman history and I get an idea of what they mean with fragments when I read about what remains of lost works.