Polybius’ The Histories document how men of virtue, piety, and courage transformed the Roman Republic into the West’s first superpower. The Histories covers 264–146 BC and detail how, in just half a century, the ancient Roman Republic surpassed and subdued Carthage and other regional rivals, to become the predominant Mediterranean power. Polybius gives credit to strong leadership, separation of powers (a system admired by framers of the American constitution two millennia later), and an element of geographic and temporal fortune. What survives of his 40 books are a fascinating glimpse into Ancient Greek and Roman culture, politics, and language.
Polybius succeeded Thucydides in the field of historiography, with the goal of not just recounting events accurately and objectively, but also with a critical eye analyzing causality. He set new standards for gathering information from eye-witness accounts and citing sources and quotations. Reflecting on the nature of historiography, he viewed historians as invaluable “men of action,” preserving and presenting truth for present and future statesmen. Though not known particularly for his eloquent prose, his work is an invaluable resource for understanding the vernacular Hellenistic Greek of the time, as well as the development of Koine Greek.
This Logos collection contains the Polybius ’complete texts in their Loeb Classical Library editions. Each volume is included in its original Greek, with an English translation for easy side-by-side comparison. Logos’ language tools help you to go deeper into the Greek text and explore the straightforward vernacular of Polybius. Use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult Greek words and find every appearance of the same word in your library. There’s never been a better way for students of history, culture, and literature to study these works.
Polybius (200–118 BC) was a Hellenistic Greek historian. He is best known for his work, The Histories, which describes the rise of the Roman Republic and contain some of the earliest analysis of separation of powers and mixed constitution. His father was a Greek military commander, and his political ties led to Polybius being arrested and deported to Rome. His high social status protected him from hardship, and he became the tutor of a young Scipio Aemilianus. Upon his release, he had the opportunity to return to his homeland, but had switched his loyalties to Rome and elected to stay. He spent years touring the historical sites he records and interviewing eye-witnesses. He was present at the capture of Carthage by Scipio. Eventually he did return home, charged with instituting the new Roman government in the cities of Greece.
W. R. Paton (1857–1921) was a Scottish author and translator. He earned his PhD from Oxford. He translated Polybius’ The Histories and the Greek Anthology for the Loeb Classical Library.