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The Preface To Livy's Ab Urbe Condita

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Chapter Summary

The author discusses the information covered by a historian in his work and analyses the prefaces to understand their writing methodology. This also applies to Livy's preface to Ab urbe condita. The preface falls into two parts of roughly equal length, and concludes with a rather laboured, hypothetically formulated prayer asking for a blessing on the work. In the first part, Livy talks about his insecurity as to whether he will be able to complete the task he has undertaken successfully, considering its weight and magnitude. The second part, with the questions posed by Rome's earliest times and - what according to Livy is absolutely vital - the salutary effect which the study of, in particular, ancient history can have for Livy's contemporaries, who have experienced the collapse of the public morale of Rome. Unlike Sallust, Livy ends his work by appealing to Rome's traditional deities.

Keywords: Ab urbe condita; historiography; Livy; preface; Rome; Sallust



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