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Cracks in the Foundation of Ancient Rome

            By the reign of Augustus, the city of Rome had changed drastically from what it was just after the conclusion of the Third Punic War. Furthermore, it was drastically different from what it had been at the city's inception. When Augustus took control of the new empire, he needed to reassert to the people that Rome was now what it always had been, with only a few changes. This is where Livy came in with his sweeping history of Rome. It can be easily seen that Livy's history of early Rome was influenced by the last two centuries of the Republic, as similar themes appear in the first three books of Ab Urbe Condita and the writings of historians concerning the late Republic. By comparing certain themes and events in Livy's work and those that occurred in the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE, it becomes clear that Livy is writing a history that is chiefly influenced by two things. First, Livy affirms the legitimacy of Augustus in the present day. He does this by extolling values classically defined as "Roman" and characters who exhibit them, and telling his story with a great emphasis on Republicanism. Second, he clearly projects the events of his own time onto his history simply because that is what he understands best. Furthermore, Ab Urbe Condita is rife with retrojection because Livy's mindset was firmly entrenched in the Roman world of the past two centuries. The events of these two centuries formed the lens through which he viewed the history of the early Roman people.
             Before jumping into the sources, it would do well to examine the scene in which Livy lived and wrote. Born in 59 BCE, he would have been a child during the Gallic Wars of Caesar, a teenager by the time Cato the Younger had committed suicide, refusing to accept Caesar's clementia, and an adult approaching middle age by the time of Octavian's victory over Antony and Cleopatra. Therefore, Livy was in a good position to obtain primary source information regarding the major key players of the demise of the Republic.

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