Mario Attilio Levi was born to an Italian Jewish family in Turin, and became a prominent scholar of ancient Roman history. He was professor and chairman of the Department of Roman History at the University of Milan from 1936, and also was a professor at several universities abroad. He founded and directed the Centre for Studies and Documentation on Roman Italy, and was president of an international committee for the study of ancient cities. During World War II, he served in the Resistance movement as well as the Italian army, and was awarded a silver medal for heroism. Because of anti-Semitic prejudice in Italy, he published some of his works under the pseudonym Manlius Canavesi. His first major book was La costituzione romana dai Gracchi a Giulio Cesare (The Roman Constitution from the Gracchi to Julius Caesar, 1928). His other works included studies on Roman law, the critical edition of the life of Caesar Augustus, and numerous articles and essays. He was elected to the prestigious Accademia dei Lincei. The auditorium at the University of Milan is named in his honor.