Ab Urbe Condita I – II – Rooman synty

Ab Urbe Condita is gigantic collection of history books written by Titus Livius and covering history of Rome from before Time of Kings to 9 BC. Big portions of the collection has been lost and not many of the surviving books have been translated into Finnish.

Rooman synty was translated into Finnish by Marja Itkonen-Kaila. The book is out of print, but might be available in second-hand. It contains first two books. In addition it has a chapter where Itkonen-Kaila explains who Livius was, what his methods for history writing were and what is the historical background of his book. This section was very enlightening as I wasn’t aware that Livius was more of a writer or an author than a historian. Tacitus had two requirements for historical book: eloquentia (splendour) and fides (belieavability). Veritas (historical truth) wasn’t goal of historical book.

Livius didn’t just collect old myths, stories and writings, but actually offered a bit of critique here and there, highlighting some specific event and offering his opinion of what really happened there. It wasn’t an easy task to write about events that had happened hundreds of years ago and which had attained somewhat legendary status. Livius probably had to combine elements from multiple sources and do adjustments to make it all to mesh together more or less. Result is enjoyable story about what happened before Rome had been founded and how age of Kings was followed by Roman Republic. It was interestig to read how Rome was strongest when faced by strong external threat and how peaceful times caused people of Rome to quarrel amongst themselves, just like during the later ages time after time.

Language in the book is easy to read, albeit a bit archaic sounding. I suspect that it’s a deliberate decision and works well enough. There are certain patterns in the book that repeat year after year, because way the wars were fought back then. Rome didn’t have professional army, but troops were raised when needed and then disbanded when no longer required. Long campaigns weren’t possible, as men had to return back to their fields for harvest.

I enjoyed book and it was fascinating to read a book written so long time ago. While reading, one has to keep in mind that Livius did not have first hand experience on the events he described and had to take some artistic liberties. The book still offers vivid description of the Rome, the inhabitants and their customs on those long gone ages.

One thought on “Ab Urbe Condita I – II – Rooman synty

  1. Pingback: Ab Urbe Condita XXI – Karthagon Hannibal Lähtee Sotaan | Engineer's Journey

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