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06/02/2008

Polybius (205 -120 BC)

University of Peloponnisos


Portrait of Polybius

Polybius was the most important Greek historian, after Thucydides. He was from the city of Megalopolis and his father Lykortas, was a distinguished politician and General of the Achaean Confederacy. Polybius grew up having as a model his fellow citizen, commander Philopoemen. Indeed, it was Polybius who carried the ashes of the great General from Messina to Megalopolis after Philopoemen was put to death with poison by the Messinians in 183 BC.

In 168 BC, the Romans forced the Confederacy to send to Rome one thousand young nobles, as hostages. Polybius was among them. In Rome, he came into contact with eminent Romans who entrusted him with the education of their children. Among his students was the later General Scipio Aemilianus, who came to be the conqueror of Carthage. Polybius followed Scipio in all of his campaigns that took place in the Mediterranean and at the coasts of Africa. Thus, he was given the opportunity to study valuable files and gather information, so when he returned to Greece, after his hostage ended, he wrote a colossal history book of 40-volumes, called The Histories in which he describes in detail and with an objective and impartial manner the most important historical events that took part in the Mediterranean area during the period 220-146 BC. Today, from the 40 volumes of his work only five are saved intact along with extracts from the rest.


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