LIVY, Titus.

The Romane Historie


The Romane Historie
(…) Written by T. Livius of Padua. Also, the Breviaries of L. Florus: with a Chronologie to the whole Historie: and the Topographie of Rome in old time.
London, Adam Islip, 1600.

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Philemon Holland’s Livy was the first in a series of unabridged translations of canonical Roman works that made him, in Thomas Fuller’s famous phrase “the translator general in his age” (Peter Culhane, Philemon Holland’s Livy).

“Holland’s first book, the first complete rendering of Livy into English, was published in 1600 when he was nearly fifty. It was a work of great importance, presented in a grand folio volume of 1458 pages, and dedicated to the queen. The translation set out to be lucid and unpretentious, and achieved its aim with marked success. It is accurate, and often lively, and although it does not attempt to imitate the terseness of Latin, it avoids prolixity. As part of his book Holland translated two other substantial works—an ancient epitome of Roman history which provides an outline of the lost books of Livy, and Bartolomeo Marliani’s guide to the topography of Rome—as well as some smaller texts. These were taken from the edition of Livy published in Paris in 1573; by translating them, Holland was making available in English a great learned compendium of historical knowledge, not simply a single ancient author” (ODNB).

One of the greatest and certainly the most popular of the Roman writers of history, Titus Livius began his great work between 27 and 25 B.C., completing it only shortly before his death about ten years later. In it he gives the complete history of the city of Rome, from its foundation to the death of Augustus. Because he was writing under the emperor Augustus, Livy’s history emphasizes the great triumphs of Rome. He wrote his history with embellished accounts of Roman heroism in order to promote the new type of government implemented by Augustus when he became emperor. In Livy’s preface to his history, he said that he did not care whether his personal fame remained in darkness, as long as his work helped to “preserve the memory of the deeds of the world’s preeminent nation.”


Folio, (10), 1404, (40) pp., woodcut title, initials, head-and tailpieces, woodcut of Queen Elizabeth, to whom this edition is dedicated, on verso of title page and portrait of Livy. Contemporary dark brown calf rebacked, blind-panelled boards, raised bands, corners worn, a fine example.



Stock ID: 93875