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Sep 21 2013

The Early History of Rome by Livy

One thing is clear from this history: from the founding of the Republic, class warfare was endemic to Rome. Rome was perpetually at war with her neighbors, but was politically at war with herself for much of her history. It seems the aristocracy used war and external threats as a means to stall the popular demands for reform; since Rome was almost always at war, reform was thus indefinitely deferred. Livy is clearly on the side of the aristocracy, yet even he puts some noble and stirring speeches in the mouths of the tribunes. Livy is too conservative and patriotic to be objective, and he has no head at all for military matters, but he captures the divisive politics of early Rome more clearly than he intended, since he makes clear from the beginning that his aim is to show how glorious and virtuous Rome was in the good old days before vice and decadence set in. There is much in this work that could have been left out with no loss to posterity, but the overall theme is timeless.

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Al Singh

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