Polybius

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Polybius

Circa 200-AFTER 118 b.c.e.

Historian and explorer

Sources

Politics and Servitude. Polybius belonged to a powerful political family in Greece that resisted the growing influence of Rome in the early second century B.C.E. He served in several political positions, including one stint as an envoy to Alexandria. After the Roman victory at the Battle of Pydna in 168, he was taken to Rome, where he soon developed a strong relationship with his captor, Scipio Aemilianus. He accompanied the Romans in their defeat of Carthage and subjugation of Greece. He was later given a ship and crew with which to explore the coast of Africa beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. He lived into his eighties and died after falling off a horse.

Historical Works. His histories, written while he was in Rome, were aimed at a Greek audience to whom he prescribed a reasoned accommodation of Roman imperial rule. His earlier works, including a history of the Numantine War (133), have been lost. The remaining portions of his major work, a history of the rise of Rome to imperial status, were based on his documentary research, eyewitness accounts, and geographic and political knowledge. He was an innovator in writing history that attempted to explain causation and processes.

Sources

Peter Sidney Derow, “Polybius,” in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 1209-1211.

Kenneth Sacks, Polybius on the Writing of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

F. W. Walbank, Polybius (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972).

Polybius

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Polybius (c.200–c.120 bc) Greek historian. A leader in the Achaean Confederation, Polybius was deported as an honoured hostage to Rome in 168 bc. He became a friend of Scipio Africanus Minor, and accompanied him to Spain and Africa. He was present at the destruction of Carthage in 146 bc, and later acted as intermediary between Rome and the Achaeans.

Polybius

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Polybius (c.200–c.118 bc), Greek historian. After an early political career in Greece he was deported to Rome. His forty books of Histories (only partially extant) chronicled the rise of the Roman Empire from 220 to 146 bc.