The modern age is not the only one in which Romans and visitors to Rome have been fascinated with the city's striking juxtapositions of past and present. Rome's wealth of history also captured the imagination of the ancients. Livy's Written Rome, by Mary Jaeger, shows how one writer explored the relationship between events in Roman history, the landscape in which they occurred, and the monuments that commemorated them. While Augustus reconstructed the physical city to reflect the ideology of the Empire, the historian Livy created a written Rome and taught his readers to look beyond the city's dramatically altered landscape. In so doing, they gained insight into the lessons of the lost Republic.
Drawing upon modern discourse on the connection between private mental spaces and public civic spaces, this first in-depth study of Livy's use of the urban landscape offers discerning views on his interpretation of ancient theories of historiography. Livy's Written Rome discusses the Roman idea of the monument as a place where memory and space intersect and includes fresh readings of several historical episodes, including the battle over the Sabine Women, the sedition of Marcus Manlius, and the trials of the Scipios.
Scholars have long criticized Livy as a historian because his work is not in accord with modern historiographical standards. Yet even his critics agree that Livy is a masterful literary artist, and recent work on Livy has argued for the complexity and originality of his thought. Across the humanities, recent scholarship has focused on the role of memory in civic consciousness and identity. This book explores the ways in which Livy's texts question traditional assumptions about the preservation and use of the past. In doing so, it identifies a new and important facet of Livy's representation of urban Rome.
Livy's Written Rome will be of interest to classicists and historians, students of ancient historiography and classical rhetoric, as well as general readers interested in memory, monuments, and historical narrative.
Mary Jaeger is Professor of Classics, University of Oregon.
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