Livy's Exemplary History

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Oxford University Press, 2000 - History - 245 pages
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The idea that it is possible to learn from history is fascinating, but also complex. What exactly can you learn from the past? Does it repeat itself? If it does, how can you prevent repetition of evil and ensure repetition of good? Livy's History of Rome is all about people learning or failing to learn from the past so in many ways his work is an extended exploration of this problem.

In this book Dr Chaplin starts from Livy's programmatic claim that history offers examples of good and bad conduct. Where previous studies have focused on the meaning of exemplary episodes and characters in isolation, this treatment traces the way historical figures try to interpret the past to their advantage. In doing so, the book demonstrates Livy's awareness of the shifting relevance of history and argues that a narrative organized around exempla allowed Livy, poised between the collapse of the Republic and the foundation of the Empire, to make the Romans' past meaningful for their future.

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About the author (2000)

Jane D. Chaplin is at Middlebury College, Vermont.

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