* Claudius was encouraged to take up writing history by the man who himself wrote one of the greatest histories during Aug’s reign – Titus Livius, aka Livy.
* He was a local aristocrat from Northern Italy and never sought a career in public life.
* His history – Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Books from the Foundation of the City) – covered everything from the founding of Rome to the death of Drusus.
* It took 142 books.
* He was on friendly terms with Aug, even though he’d written such a nice essay proclaiming the virtues of Pompey that Augustus called him Pompeianus.
* but some of his books may not have been released until after the princep’s death.
* His views also matched Aug’s.
* He was a fierce patriot who believed Rome prospered when standards of morality were high and the Romans respected the traditions and the gods.
* When bad shit happened, it was because the people, including the senators, failed to live up to proper standards.
* Livy was born around the same time as Augustus in Patavium in Cisalpine Gaul, modern Padua.
* During the civil wars after JC’s assassination, Asinius Pollio, who was the governor of Cisapline Gaul, tried to get the aristocrats of Patavium to support Mark Antony.
* They refused and went into hiding to avoid his retribution.
* He tried to bribe their slaves into telling him where the masters were hiding but they refused.
* All of thise might have prevented young Livy from going to Rome or Athens to study, which would have been normal for an young aristocrat.
* Livy eventually went to Rome in the 30’s BCE.
* Because he was rich, he never tried to get political office or joined the military.
* He dedicated himself to writing.
* In his preface to his history, he said that he did not care whether his personal fame remained in darkness, as long as his work helped to “preserve the memory of the deeds of the world’s preeminent nation”.
* He died around about the same time as Augustus, maybe a couple of years later.
* The first five books were published between 27 and 25 BC.
* Livy continued to work on the History for much of the rest of his life, publishing new material by popular demand.
* He was so famous during his lifetime that one man traveled from Cadiz to Rome just to meet him.
* During the Dark Ages, his work fell out of interest and was nearly completely lost.
* But during the early stages of the Renaissance, there was a massive effort to find and restore his book.
* Some of the guys who will be the heroes of our Renaissance series, Poggio and Petrarch and Machiavelli, played significant roles in keeping Livy’s work around.
* Unfortunately, we still only have about a third of it.
* Books 1–10 and Books 21–45 — still exist in reasonably complete form.
* Books 11–20 – The period from 292 to 218, including the First Punic War are lost.
* Books 46 to 142, which covered everything after 167 BCE, are all lost.
* From what we do know, his depiction of many of the heroes in Augustus’ Forum was a lot harsher than the inscriptions on the statues.
* But that makes sense.
* Augustus wasn’t writing history – he was making propaganda.
* He’s also said to have questioned whether or not JC being born was a good thing in light of his career.
* The passage is lost, but he couldn’t have been too hostile, seeing as he was friends with Augustus.
* Unless you want to believe that Aug didn’t mind negative things being written about JC or himself.
* Which seems to be the case.
* On one occasion he wrote to Tiberius telling him not to ‘take it too much to heart that anyone speak evil of me; we must be content if we can stop anyone from doing evil to us’.
* Of course, Aug had the ability to produce way more positive propaganda about himself and his father, so he could overwhelm anything his critics might write.
* And Livy’s theme that success came from adhering to the proper Roman virtues was a strong endorsement of Aug.
* Aug didn’t need to actively suppress alternative views or hide the past.
* Anyone who wrote such things lost his favour.
* So they censored themselves.
* And even if he had wanted to suppress them, it was nearly impossible.
* The fact that JC had crossed the Rubicon and started a civil war was undeniable.
* As was Aug’s own involvement in the proscriptions.
* He didn’t need to deny these things.
* He just spread his own version, shifting the blame on to others.
* But Livy was pretty balanced, too.
* He didn’t place all of the blame for the civil wars on to JC’s shoulders.
* Even when he praised Cicero, he also pointed out that Cicero was doing his best to arrange the deaths of the triumvirs, and celebrated JC’s assassination, so he wasn’t different to the others, just less successful.
* Livy, like Virgil and Ovid, knew that writing a purely sycophantic version of history wasn’t doing anyone any favours.
* It wouldn’t be believable.
* And the best way to show how free they were under Aug’s reign was to write some criticism of the past.
* Better to share some of the criticism around while also praising the way Augustus had brought about stability and a return to the old traditional Roman values.
* He had secured victories over Rome’s enemies and expanded the Roman empire.
* There was a lot to praise.