It is important to keep in mind the time period in which Livy wrote his History of Rome. He composed this sweeping historical account during the reigns of Emperor Augustus and Emperor Tiberius and during the early years of the Roman Empire. He hoped that this work would promote the new form of government in Rome. To achieve this, Livy highlighted and embellished the acts and deeds of historical and mythical figures from Rome's past. In the preface to this work, Livy wrote that he was not looking to immortalize himself as a historian. Rather, he wanted to set down the great deeds of past Romans and forever elevate Rome and present the imperial family as the inheritors of this famed and gloried past. He makes it a point to show how the mores of Rome declined during the days of the Republic and indicates that this former glory is now being restored under the Empire. By studying Rome's great past, he hoped his contemporaries could support the emperors in reviving Roman prestige.
To do this, Livy presents Romulus as the paragon of Roman strength and virtue. Although many accounts of Romulus and Remus focus on the violent act of one brother killing the other, Livy takes a different approach. In his work, Remus simply dies, perhaps killed by the gods, after leaping over Romulus's wall. This change in the narrative makes Romulus more virtuous and less rash than other accounts of the story. Although he is wise, Romulus does not always rely on his wits. It is his strength and courage which Livy seems to applaud the most. For instance, in the battles with the Etruscans, Romulus leads his army to victory, not so much by way of stratagem, but through sheer strength of force. Furthermore, he allows his army to take revenge by destroying the Etruscan countryside, yet he does not lead them to certain death by directly attacking the enemy's walls. Throughout his descriptions of Romulus and his acts, the king of Rome is presented as thoughtful, wise, and favored by the gods. He can be merciless to those who insult his people, yet wise enough to make peace when necessary. These descriptions of Romulus suggest that Livy believed strength, courage, and good judgment were essential parts of the Roman character.