In spite of the main goal of the annalistic narration of Livy, the description of the history of Rome, Alexander the Great has an important role in the
Ab Urbe condita
. In this way, Livy composed the first known counterfactual episode of European historiography (IX 17–19). Moreover, Livy compared the courage, knowledge and the fortune of the Macedonian and the Roman military commanders, and the opposing forces. Livy presents Alexander with his bad traits, therefore the historiographer denies the divinity of the Macedonian king. Livy opposes the few Greeks, who rejected the order of Augustus, and hated the princeps himself.
The tradition of Alexander the Great influenced strongly Livy’s historiography. Although the marginal Roman state of the 4th century BC only had negligible connections to Alexander the Great, his figure and historical role were in the center of Livy’s interest. Beside the famous Alexandros digression (IX 17–19), Livy used other elements of the Hellenistic tradition which was based on the prosopography of Alexander III.