Livy, Periochae 1-5

Titus Livius or Livy (59 BCE - 17 CE): Roman historian, author of the authorized version of the history of the Roman republic.

A large part of Livy's History of Rome since the Foundation is now lost, but fortunately we have an excerpt, called the Periochae, which helps us reconstruct the general scope. This translation was made by Jona Lendering.


From Book 1

[1.1] Arrival in Italy of Aeneas; his acts.

[1.2] Reign of Ascanius at Alba and the Silvians after him.

[1.3] Romulus and Remus born from a daughter of Numitor, raped by Mars.

[1.4] Amullius killed.

[1.5] City founded by Romulus.

[1.6] Creation of the Senate.

[1.7] War with the Sabines.

[1.8] Supreme booty given to Jupiter Feretrius.

[1.9] People divided into curiae.

[1.10] Fidenates and Veientans defeated.

[1.11] Consecration of Romulus.

[1.12] Numa Pompilius organized the sacred rituals.

[1.13] Gate of Janus closed.

[1.14] Tullus Hostilius seized part of the land of the Albanians.

[1.15] Clash of the triplets.

[1.16] Punishment of Mettius Fufetius.

[1.17] Tullus consumed by lightning.

[1.18] Ancus Martius defeated the Latins, founded Ostia.

[1.19] Tarquinius Priscus overcame the Latins, founded the Circus,note subdued the neighboring people, and built the walls and sewer system.

[1.20] Flames near the head of Servius Tullius.

[1.21] Servius Tullius defeated the Veientans, divided the people in classes, and dedicated the sanctuary of Diana.

[1.22] Having killed Tullius, Tarquinius Superbus seized the kingdom.

[1.23] Crime of Tullia against her father.

[1.24] Turnus Herdonius killed by Tarquinius.

[1.25] War against the Volscians.

[1.26] With a stratagem, Sextus Tarquinius seized Gabii.

[1.27] Start of the building of the Capitol.

[1.28] The altars of Terminus and Juventus could not be moved.

[1.29] Lucretia killed herself.

[1.30] Expulsion of Superbus [510 VC].

[1.31] The monarchy had lasted 245 years.

From Book 2

[2.1] [509 VC] Brutus made the people swear that they would never tolerate that someone would be king in Rome.

[2.2] He forced his colleague Tarquinius Collatinus, who was suspect because of his relation to the Tarquinii, to give up consulate and citizenship.

[2.3] He ordered the possessions of the king to be destroyed, and dedicated the land to Mars; it is called Field of Mars.

[2.4] He ordered the decapitation of young noblemen, among whom were his own and his brother's sons, because they had conspired to bring back the kings.

[2.5] The slave who had denounced the conspiracy, whose name was Vindicius, was given freedom. (From his name, the word for release is derived.)

[2.6] When henote lead an army against the kings, who had started a war with the united troops from Veii and Tarquinii, he died in a duel together with Arruns, the son of Superbus; the married women mourned for a year.

[2.7] Consul Publius Valerius [Publicola] granted the people the right of appeal.

[2.8] The Capitol was dedicated.

[2.9] [508 VC] When king Porsenna of Clusium, continuing the war on behalf of the Tarquinii, arrived on the Janiculum, he was unable to cross the Tiber because of the bravery of Horatius Cocles,

[2.10] who, when others destroyed the wooden bridge, single-handed resisted the Etruscans and, when the bridge collapsed, jumped, still carrying his arms, into the river and swam to his friends.

[2.11] Another example of courage was that of Mucius [Scaevola],

[2.12] who entered the enemy camp to kill Porsenna, but slew his scribe (whom he believed to be the king), was arrested and held his hand on an altar, which was used for sacrifices, let his hand burn and declared that there were three hundred men like him.

[2.13] Impressed by their courage, Porsenna opened negotiations and put an end to the war when he received hostages.

[2.14] One of them was a young woman named Cloelia, who deceived her guards, swam to her relatives, and, when she had been sent back, was honorably released by Porsenna and received an equestrian statue.

[2.15] [496 VC] Dictator Aulus Postumius successfully fought against Tarquinius Superbus, who continued the war with the army of Latins.

[2.16] [504 VC] Appius Claudius migrated from the Sabines to Rome.

[2.17] Because of this, the Claudian district was created, and the number of district was expanded to twenty.

[2.18] [494 VC] When, because of the servitude of debtors, the plebs seceded to the Holy Mountain, they came back from their rebellion after receiving advise from Menenius Agrippa.

[2.19] When this man died, he received a state funeral, because he was so poor.

[2.20] Five tribunes of the plebs were created.

[2.21] [492 VC] Corioli, a Volscian town, was captured by the talent and work of Gnaeus Marcius, who was surnamed Coriolanus.

[2.22] [491 VC] When Titus Latinius, a plebeian, had been warned in a vision that he had to inform the Senate about some religious affair, and neglected his duty, he lost his son and his feet were lame, but when he was carried to the Senate on a bed and informed them, he regained the command of his feet and returned home.

[2.23] [488 VC] When Gnaeus Marcius Coriolanus, who had been exiled, was made leader of the Volscians and led an enemy army against the city, first envoys were sent, then priests, begging him not to attack his own country, but he did not return until his mother Veturia and wife Volumnia asked the same.

[2.24] [486 VC] The first agrarian bill was passed.

[2.25] Former consul Spurius Cassius was condemned for attempting to become king and was killed.

[2.26] [484 VC] The Vestal virgin Opillia [Oppia] was buried alive because of unchastity.

[2.27] [479 VC] When the neighboring Veientans became more irritating than dangerous, the Fabius family asked to be charged with the war, and sent out three hundred and six armed men, who were killed by the enemies near the river Cremera, except for one.

[2.28] [470 VC] Consul Appius Claudius unsuccessfully fought against the Volscians because his army did not obey him, and ordered that one of every ten soldiers should be killed with rods.

[2.29] Itnote also contains accounts of the wars against the Volscians, Hernicians, and Veientans, and the struggle between the patricians and the plebs.

From Book 3

[3.1] [462 VC] There were riots because of the land bills.

[3.2] The Capitol, which had been occupied by exiles and slaves, was recaptured after a massacre.

[3.3] The ritual cleansing of the state was performed twice.

[3.4] During the first ceremony 108,714 people were registered (widows and orphans not included), during the second 117,219.

[3.5] [458 VC] After an unsuccessful fight against the Aequans, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus was made dictator; because he was in the country, working on his land, it was there that he was asked to wage war.

[3.6] He sent the defeated enemies under the yoke.

[3.7] [457 VC] Thirty-six years after the first tribunes of the plebs were elected, the number of tribunes of the plebs was expanded, so that there were ten.

[3.8] [451 VC] After envoys had been sent to Athens to consult and propagate the laws, a board of ten men, with the powers of consuls and without any other magistrates, was created in the three hundred and second year since the founding of the city, and power was transferred from the consuls to the ten as it had once been transferred from the kings to the consuls.

[3.9] During the publication of the first ten tables of laws, they behaved moderately, and it was decided that they would stay in office for a second year [450 VC], but after adding two tablets to the other ten, they started to commit excesses, refused to lay down their magistracy, and would have claimed a third term, if the lust had of Appius Claudius had not put an end to their detested power. 

[3.10] Because he burned with passion for a girl named Virginia, he sent someone to claim her as his slave, which forced her father to a desperate measure.

[3.11] From a nearby shop he took a knife and killed his daughter, because he had no other means to prevent her from being dishonored.

[3.12] After this example of supreme injustice, the angry mob occupied the Aventine and forced the board to ten to abdicate.

[3.13] Appius, who had deserved the supreme punishment, was thrown into jail; the others were exiled.

[3.14] Itnote also contains an account of successful wars against the Sabines and Volscans, and of a rather dishonest arbitration by the Roman people,

[3.15] which had been asked to judge between the claims on a piece of land people of Ardea and Aricia, and kept it for itself.

From Book 4

[4.1] [445 VC] After a big struggle, organized by the tribunes, and in spite of patrician opposition, the law on the marriage between patricians and plebeians was repealed.

[4.2] The tribunes...note of the plebs.

[4.3] For several years, the internal and military affairs of the Roman people were administered by this type of magistrates. 

[4.4] [443 VC] And for the first time, censors were created.

[4.5] The land that had been seized by popular judgment from the Ardeatines, was given back to settlers.

[4.6] [440 VC] When the Roman people suffered from famine, a Roman knight named Spurius Maelius paid to give much grain to the people, but when he became popular among the poor and wanted to become king, [439 VC] he was killed by Gaius Servilius Ahala, master of horse, who had been ordered to do so by dictator [Lucius] Quintius Cincinnatus. Lucius Minucius, who had denounced Maelius, was given a gilded [statue of] a bull.

[4.7] [437 VC] When Roman envoys were killed by the Fidenates, their statues were erected on the speaker's platform, because they had died while serving the state.

[4.8] [436 VC] After military tribune Cornelius Cossus had killed king Tolumnius of Veii, he returned with supreme spoils.

[4.9] [434 VC] Dictator Mamercus Aemilius limited the censorship, which until then had lasted five years, to one year and six months, he was fined by the censors.

[4.10] Fidenae was seized and settlers were sent.

[4.11] When these had been killed by rebellious Fidenates, the latter were defeated by dictator Mamercus Aemilius and Fidenae was captured.

[4.12] A conspiracy of slaves was suppressed. 

[4.13] [414 VC] Because of his cruelty, military tribune Postumius was killed by his own troops.

[4.14] [406 VC] For the first time, the soldiers received by from the state's treasury.

[4.15] Itnote also contains accounts of wars against the Volscans, Fidenates, and Faliscians.

From Book 5

[5.1] During the siege of Veii, winter quarters were occupied.

[5.2] This was something new, and the tribunes of the plebs complained that the people were not even in the winter given rest from military service.

[5.3] The cavalry men started to serve on their own horses.

[5.4] [398 VC] When the Alban Lake was overflowing, a seer, who could interpret this omen, was captured from the enemies.

[5.5] [396 VC] Dictator [Marcus] Furius Camillus captured Veii after a siege of ten years, transferred the statue of Juno to Rome, and sent one tenth of the spoils to Apollo in Delphi.

[5.6] [394 VC] When the same man, as military tribune, besieged the Faliscans, he sent back the children of the enemy, who had treacherously been handed over to him, to their parents, and his justice immediately caused the surrender of and victory over the Faliscans.

[5.7] When Gaius Julius, one of the censors, died, Marcus Cornelius succeeded him.

[5.8] This was never done again, because in their period in office, Rome was captured by the Gauls.

[5.9] [391 VC] When [Marcus] Furius Camillus was accused by tribune Lucius Apuleius, he went into exile.

[5.10] [390 VC = 387/386 BCE] When the Gallic Senones besieged Clusium, and envoys were sent by the Senate to negotiate a peace between them and the Clusians, and the envoys [instead] fought in the Clusian battle array against the Gauls, the Senones, insulted by their behavior, marched on Rome with an army ready for battle, defeated the Romans near the Allia, and captured the city, except for the Capitol, which was the refuge of the young men; the old men, sitting at the entrances of their houses with their signs of honor they had obtained, were killed.

[5.11] And when the Gauls climbed to the summit of the hill opposite the [temple of Jupiter on the] Capitol, their approach was betrayed by the sound of the geese, and they were thrown down by the efforts of especially Marcus Manlius.

[5.12] Forced by famine the Romans descended, to pay thousand pounds of gold and buy the end of the siege, but Furius Camillus, who had been made dictator while away, arrived during the peace negotiations with an army, expelled the Gauls who had been in the city for six months, and massacred them.

[5.13] Because the city was burnt and sacked, there was talk about migration to Veii, but the project was canceled by the intervention of Camillus.

[5.14] An omen guided the people when they heard the voice of an officer, who arrived at the Forum and said to his standard bearer: "Stay, soldier, this is the best place to remain."

[5.15] A shrine was dedicated to the Capitoline Jupiter, because before the city had been captured, a voice had been heard that warned for the Gauls.