Review by: Darian Totten, Davidson College - August 3, 2013
Teaching Livy's Ab Urbe Condita in a college-level Latin course is guaranteed to yield valuable returns: in developing student's language proficiency through Livy's diverse and complex prose style, and in cultivating an interest in Roman history and culture through vivid characters and descriptions. There are many editions of annotated texts with commentaries for instructors to choose from for the intermediate and advanced Latin student, some with paraphrase passages and some presenting Livy's original text. New on the scene is Mary Jaeger's A Livy Reader: Selections from Ab Urbe Condita, a thoughtful and well-annotated edition of excerpts that pushes students and instructors to engage critically and carefully with Livy's history at the level of both style and concept.
As one of Bolchazy-Carducci's new Latin Readers (under the general editorship of Ronnie Ancona), A Livy Reader is organized according to the series' specifications: an introduction by the author, a bibliography for further reading, 593 lines of original Latin and associated commentary, and a full glossary. Everything students need to work with the text is (mostly) contained within it; occasional notes directing the reader to C. Bennett's New Latin Grammar mean that students might want to have it handy as they read.
Jaeger's introduction provides a firm foundation to Livy the historian, the work he produced, and his historical context-and is appropriately suited to an audience meeting Livy for the first time. There is information on Livy's origins, his education, his unwavering dedication to historical writing, and the absence of evidence for a political career ("Livy's Life and Times"). Jaeger emphasizes the limitations that exist in writing Livy's biography due to his own silence and the meager (and uncertain) information from other ancient sources. On the question of Livy's political leanings, Jaeger walks a middle road, telling students that there is evidence for both his republicanism and support for the new Augustan regime in his history. There is brief discussion of what Livy included in his history, what survives, and the structure of this massive work ("Livy's Work, Subject and Scope"). From the start, in presenting these details and debates around this historian, Jaeger models how to think about history and sources in a critical way.
As the introduction continues, Jaeger shows the student how and why Livy wrote his history, two of the main themes driving this volume. We hear of Livy's many sources-oral traditions, the Annales Maximi, and the work of previous historians-and how he might have adapted them to his purposes ("Livy's Sources"). Through a discussion of why Livy wrote his history-part and parcel of his interest in human experience and character-Jaeger makes clear the themes linking the passages students will read ("Livy's Ideas"). Students are also given valuable insights on how to read and assess Livy's style through thorough and informative close readings of one paratactic and one periodic passage ("Livy's Artistry"). Presented with a taste of what is to come, students begin to see how style can contribute to meaning and note strategies for reading the text accordingly.
In her preface, Jaeger acknowledges the difficulty in selecting passages from the many rich, and also sometimes canonical, episodes found in Livy. To do so, she draws widely from the extant text, with passages that expose students to Livy's narrative style, his rich descriptions, and his speech-writing skills. The selections are lively and intriguing: chapters 6-10 of Livy's praefatio allow students to hear the author's motivations for writing history; the competitiveness between Romulus and Remus presents a "classic" story for which Livy acknowledges two versions of events; from Book 2, Horatius, Mucius Scaevola, and Cloelia give students a sense of Romans at their most patriotic and courageous; Manlius and the Gaul reinforces the contrast between Romans and their enemies in times of conflict, a theme that is built upon with selections from the conflict with Hannibal in Books 21 and 22; and excerpts from the Bacchic conspiracy demonstrate the consuls staving off internal turmoil, along with rich descriptions of the "depravity" of the Bacchant worshippers. Jaeger frames these episodes at the start of each new section of commentary, introducing the passage at hand, while also making informative links between passages, even if, at times, great leaps in time and space are made. One can foresee lively discussions emerging from these passages: what it meant to be Roman, what qualities a good leader should have, and the importance of perspective in writing history.
On the whole, the commentary contains helpful and appropriate notes, although it takes some time to hit its stride. It does so in the passage of Horatius at the Bridge and thereafter, where the careful attention to the complexities of grammar and syntax will serve the intermediate student well. Jaeger pays careful attention to syntactic features necessary to master Livy effectively: indirect discourse, relative and conditional clauses, and the particulars of gerunds and participles. One would hope for a bit more help in the two passages that precede Horatius, especially because the Praefatio, which expresses complex, non-narrative ideas, will be difficult for students just getting acclimated to Livy. As one works through the Reader, the commentary grows with more notes concerned with style and conceptual issues and less grammatical help. The notes do well in indicating and defining the literary devices and emphatic word order with which Livy enlivens his history, enabling the student to get a real sense of Livy as writer. On a literary level, Jaeger assumes prior experience with the text of the Aeneid, and there are also notes referring to Ovid, Lucretius, and even Ennius; these might be lost on students with limited exposure to Latin literature. There are, however, also quite excellent notes on aspects of Roman culture and history that help to illuminate the meaning in Livy's details further (those on the episodes from Books 21-2 and the Bacchic conspiracy stand out most strongly).
One exciting aspect of this volume is the potential it offers to develop class exercises in source criticism. Jaeger's early mention of her textual emendations exposes students to the process involved in setting an ancient text and opens up the possibility of exploring the significance of those choices for understanding. There is also the material available to juxtapose Livy's narrative to earlier texts. In the Manlius excerpt, students might be asked to compare Livy's account to that of the annalist Claudius Quadrigarius, as prompted by Jaeger: "Comparing the two shows how Livy's many changes in detail produce a very different cumulative result" (43). From the de Bacchinalibus episode students might debate the difference between Livy's (dramatic) account and the formal Senatus Consultus. Students interested in exploring scholarship on Livy's text will find Jaeger's bibliographic references helpful, with suggestions ranging from the general topic of historical writing in ancient Rome all the way to specific monographs and articles related to the selected passages found in the volume.
Two maps appear at the end of the reader as appendices, one of the city of Rome and the other of the Mediterranean. They are set at a small scale, making them of questionable utility. In fact, the map of Rome could have focused on a detail of the Forum, Palatine, and the adjacent Tiber River (to situate the action in the Book 1 and 2 excerpts), while a map of the western Mediterranean would have allowed a finer resolution on those sites associated with the Manlius episode and the war with Hannibal.
Overall, Jaeger's contribution to the Latin Readers series is quite welcome, offering an intriguing and fun edition to introduce students to Livy's text, while also pushing them to assess Livy as a stylist and storyteller critically. Although there is not enough Latin here to fill a full semester, this text could start a course on selected Latin historians or be part of a class on the Augustan authors. I am eager to adopt this text the next time I teach intermediate Latin.
—Darian Marie Totten
Review by: Ed DeHoratius, CANE - February 24, 2012
Mary Jaeger (ed.}, 'A Livy Reader: Selections from Ab Urbe Condita'. Mundelein, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2011. Pp. xxiii + 127. Paper (ISBN 978-0-86516-680-6) $19.00.
Bolchazy-Carducci long has been supplying teachers of all levels with readers of various authors. This book is a welcome addition to that supply. It is one of Bolchazy's Latin Reader series that includes Apuleius, Caesar, Lucan, Martial, and epics, as well as some topical editions, e.g., women, the military, etc.; the title page of Jaeger's book reports that nineteen editions are planned. The Livy edition is a slim volume with little adornment that includes eighteen selections. The readings are presented in order by decade, including one from the preface. The text reflects the book's lack of adornment. It is presented free of any extras except a title for each selection. Both line numbers and sentence numbers are included, the former of which is a common-sensical inclusion and one too often overlooked in prose texts. On the other hand, the retention of the intervocalic 'u' seems an unnecessary departure from the more accepted convention. Also included are notes, two maps, and a glossary, all of which follow the text.
Jaeger herself in the preface laments the embarrassment of riches that Livy presents for any selection of readings, much less one confined to six hundred lines of text. I will not then lament the absence of any passage except perhaps for Lucretia, a story so seminal to both Livy and Roman history that it would be difficult for me to justify excluding it. I will, however, defer to her judgment in "illustrating Livy's versatility as a writer, and most of all, his excellence as a storyteller" (vii). I do commend Jaeger for providing a full sense of Livy's breadth; too often readings in Livy are
confined to the stories of the first decade made so famous by generations of later visual artists. Jaeger's inclusion of the Punic wars and the Bacchic "conspiracy" (her quotations), in addition to some old favorites from the first decade, will allow students and teachers to experience Livy and his Roman history in its different incarnations.
The introduction includes seven headed sections: Livy's life and times; Livy's work, subject and scope; Livy's sources; ideas; Livy's artistry; reception; and suggested reading. Jaeger makes the economy of the format effective. Each section includes a wealth of useful and interesting information in a relatively small space. In the section on Livy's artistry, for instance, Jaeger manages both to outline the literary tradition within which Livy was writing and to develop specifically how his use of participles represents a departure from that tradition, providing readers with both the broad view of Livy as an author and a specific feature of his writing.
The notes for each section open with a prefatory description of either the selection, its background, or a combination of both. This proves a helpful introduction to the upcoming text and allows students some measure of familiarity with the plot. The inclusion of Latin parentheticals as specific verbal references to the upcoming text in the introduction to
the Romulus and Remus story provides nice anchors for students too, it would be hoped, recall as they proceed through the text. This is the only story, however, that includes such parentheticals; more would be welcome. The notes themselves cover a wide range of topics, from grammar to sentence structure to history and background to rhetorical figures. While this approach provides students with a variety of information, it makes the audience of the book somewhat difficult to pinpoint. For instance, the note for pref. 6 glosses oportet as "impers." (26). Across the page, the note for pre£. 12-19 explains the structure of those lines, including mention of the rhetorical figures anaphora and asyndeton, both of which are defined parenthetically as part of the note. It would seem, though, that the student who would recognize the abbreviation "impers." would know the definitions of anaphora and asyndeton, or the student who needed anaphora and asyndeton defined would need further explanation of "impers." In general, the notes seem to favor the less experienced reader, but for that reader, perhaps some of the more technical abbreviations, whose terms they might have been taught but with which they might not yet be immediately familiar, should be more fully explained or expanded.
Similarly, the cultural explanations seem somewhat disproportionate. The note for the Romulus and Remus story that names the hill from which the brothers viewed their auguries (1.6.4) gives a lengthy history of the Palatine hill and a brief history of the Aventine hill. While certainly interesting information, it is not used to analyze the text and so seems too much uncontextualized information, especially for a volume of this scope. A more balanced note appears at 21.42.1 (line 2 in Jaeger's text) for ad spectaculum. The note briefly describes Livy's use of spectacle and then reconnects the idea to the narrative. It is not only informative for the student but also allows the teacher the flexibility to expand upon it. Overall, the notes provide a breadth of information, both grammatical and contextual, on Livy's text that is useful for the student; the quibbles should not overshadow the general effectiveness of the notes.
The glossary seems comprehensive, stretching from page 87 to 127, comprising almost a third of the pages of the book, and indeed includes in it perhaps the Latin word least in need of defining, et. Some mention of the extent of this comprehensiveness might have been helpful, at least to the instructor, if not the student. The two maps are beautifully done; the cartographers at Bolchazy-Carducci should be commended. It is a shame then that the maps are relegated to the back of the book in appendices. It is also curious that each map should have its own appendix rather than being combined into a single "maps" appendix.
Mary Jaeger's 'A Livy Reader' is a welcome addition to the market. An author as interesting and readable as Livy is surprisingly underrepresented among available readers, Minkova and Tunberg's 'Reading Livy's Rome: Selections from Books I-VI Livy's Ab Urbe Condita' (Bolchazy-Carducci 2005) being an exception and Beyer 's 'War with Hannibal: Authentic Latin Prose for the Beginning Student' (Yale University Press 2008) focusing on Eutropius rather than Livy. Jaeger not only addresses that lacuna but also does so in a way that does not merely recapitulate what is already available. She introduces the reader and student to the full breadth of Livy's narrative and historiographic scope with a straightforward approach and useful ancillaries. Her text will anchor or supplement courses from a third year high school course that is introducing students to reading Latin for the first time to a college survey course to a course focused on Livy himself. Both it and Bolchazy's Latin Reader series fulfill an important role in classics publishing: the expansion of reading resources available to instructors. For that both Jaeger and Bolchazy should be commended.
NECJ 39.1 (2012)
Wayland High School, MA
Review by: James Cox, Midwest Book Review - Wisconsin Bookwatch - February 7, 2011
A Livy Reader
1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, IL 60060
9780865166806, $19.00, www.bolchazy.com
The best way to understand the Roman period is to understand its literature. "A Livy Reader: Selections from Ab Urbe Condita" is a scholarly examination of Livy and his work, to give a view of the Roman world as a whole. A study guide to the work of Livy, viewed as one of the greatest historians of the Augustan age, his work provides much in the way to understand the people of the time. Serving as a study guide to better understanding the Latin, "A Livy Reader" is a scholarly pick for any student of the Latin language and culture. Also from Bolchazy-Carducci for Latin studies is "A Suetonius Reader: Selections from the Lives of the Caesars and the Life of Horace" focusing on the work of another writer of the classical times and how to better understand his works.
Copy that is posted on BC website and BC Readers website:
The best way to understand the Roman period is to understand its literature. "A Livy Reader: Selections from Ab Urbe Condita" is a scholarly examination of Livy and his work. . .Serving as a study guide to better understanding the Latin, "A Livy Reader" is a scholarly pick for any student of the Latin language and culture. . .
— James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - June 1, 2009
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Bolchazy-Carducci has recently commenced launching the first titles in its Latin Reader series, a new collection of innovative high intermediate and advanced Latin readers, specifically designed for college-level study. Under the expert guidance of series editor Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, these small, duodecimo-sized paperbacks are intended to introduce authors and genres to students in upper division undergraduate courses. Written by recognized experts, each book will include approximately 500-600 lines of authentic Latin text, accompanied by a thorough introduction, bibliography of suggested reading, annotated commentary, and full vocabulary. There are currently two volumes available, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil war (ISBN 978-0865166615) by Susanna Braund and A Terence Reader: Selections from Six Plays (978-0865166783) by William S. Anderson. According to the Bolchazy website, seventeen additional volumes are currently scheduled to be issued. Upcoming authors include Plautus, Sallust, Cicero, Sueconius, Tacitus, Vergil, Caesar, Martial, Apuleius, and Livy. Topics co be covered include Roman Women, Roman Verse Satire, Latin Epic, and Roman Army. Additional authors and themes are under consideration.
The inaugural volume, A Lucan Reader, is an introduction to the Silver Age epic poem (often referred to as Pharsalia) retelling the events of the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Rarely studied by third and fourth-year college Latin students, this reader provides the opportunity for advanced undergraduates to sample some difficult but fascinating Latin. Following a detailed and compelling introduction, Braund has selected high interest passages: the causes of the Civil war, Caesar at the Rubicon, the abandonment of Rome, the necromancy of Erichtho, Pompey's visitation by Julia's ghost, and Caesar in Troy. I have never read Lucan, bur now find myself intrigued.
The second volume, A Terence Reader, released just this summer, is an introduction to Roman Comedy. Following a consistent format, Anderson's introduction provides essential background for students and a brief history of Roman Comedy. He then proceeds to explain what made Terence's plays unique, original and thought-provoking. Selections in this volume include excerpts from Andria, Heauton, Phormia, Hecyra, Eunuchus, and Adelphoe, followed by commentary to put the passages in context and provide grammatical assistance. There is also a helpful appendix, with information regarding comic meters. Fans of comedy will be happy to know that the next volume in the series, to be released later this year, will be A Plautus Reader: Selections from Eleven Plays (ISBN 978- 0-86516-694-2) by John Henderson.
Given the size of these short readers, teachers and professors should find them useful when customizing a course. Professor Ancona notes that they are ideal for use in combination. I observe that they are inexpensive ($19.95) compared to many college textbooks. Instructors can feel free to mix and match authors and themes to suit their curriculum without causing too much damage to their students' bank accounts. Motivated readers of Latin can sample new authors and themes with expert guidance. Secondary school teachers may even wish to challenge their skilled Advanced Placement students after completing the exam, using some of these selections as a follow-up to the anticipated Caesar/Vergil syllabus.
To discover more about this intriguing new collection, visit the BC Latin Readers website at http://www.bolchazy. com/readers/ where you can find out more about what will be included in each volume as well as read a short biography of each series author. To see Bolchazy's complete catalog, visit the main website at http://www.bolchazy.com. Questions may be directed to their customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also write their headquarters at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel, (800) 392- 6453, Fax: (847) 526-2867.
The Clearing House, Classical Outlook Fall 2009