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Livy, a Roman historian, chronicles the founding and history of early Rome. From the landing of the Trojans along with Aeneas, to the founding of Rome by one of the two twins Romulas (killing his twin Remus in the process), to the kings, consuls, senate, tribunes, military tribunes and Dictators. The stories, myths, legends and some facts probably too, are all mixed into a well-written and concise retelling of the founding of the greatest empire to ever grace the earth. The human (relatively speaking) and republican means in which the Romans operated are refreshing and amazing. To cast off the monarchy and give the power to the people is something difficult even in the 21st century and the Romans did it 700 years before year 0. The main stories being the founding of Rome by Romulus, King Numa taking the throne, even though he was a foreigner and had no relation to Rome, Horatius who kept the bridge alone and saved Rome from invasion, The Tarquins and their eagerness to reestablish the monarchy, Mucius Scaevola who thrust his right hand into the fire and proved that he would do what it took to save Rome by killing the king (and thereby causing the king to retreat to save his own skin), Virginia and Appius (Appius being the ad hoc ruler by a leading power of 10 Romans - he raped Virginia in her own bed and caused the republic, unbeknownst to him, to be reborn, Cincinnatus who was called from his small farm to assume the role of Dictator and lead Rome to victory and Camillus who was exiled but returned to save Rome from the Gauls.
There were seven kings before the people and Senate ruled Rome. The early kings were great and eager to put the good of the republic before their own egos. The latter kings were evil and by doing evil, ensured that history would forever be indebted to the Roman empire. Rome seemed to be fighting some opponent every year for most of the first 365 years of its existence. From the Etruscans to the Gauls, the opponents were stronger and more powerful than all of Rome put together. Yet a sense of right and a strong military saw the Romans victorious again and again. Even after the Gauls, an opponent of nearly infinite might and numbers, was beaten back by half the Roman army. The Gods certainly did appear to shine on the city of Rome. The capture of Veii towards the end of the book was especially interesting, as the Romans built a tunnel into the citadel during the siege and used it to storm and capture the exceedingly wealthy town. There are simply too many heroes and villains to name. I will leave the details to Livy, in whose capable hands my words are but a jelly on the side of a whale.
Review: The History of Rome, Books IV: The Early History of RomeUser Review - Leonard - Goodreads
Herodotus tends to get the most credit, but for my two denaria, Livy's history of Rome is the best of its period. Incredibly detailed, but with personal touches that make it carry over. Read full review