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Polybius was an Achaean nobleman, who was detained and taken to Rome as a hostage in 167 BC after the third Macedonian war. He was fortunate enough to have become acquainted with Aemilius Paullus, and become a tutor and close friend to his two sons. This association gave him unique and strong connections into the world of Roman politics and excellent sources of information on Roman history.

Polybius was invited by the Romans to participate in the aborted peace negotiations with Carthage in 149 BC, was eyewitness at the destruction of Carthage, and was given authority by the Romans to handle the settlement of Greece after Greek revolt of 146 BC. He performed this job so well that several Greek cities raised statues to honor him. He traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean world, as well as having traveled on expeditions along Africa’s Atlantic coast. However, he is most famous for his work on “The Histories”, a ‘universal history’ of the period 220 BC down to 146 BC. Only fragments of the work survive, but along with Livy’s “History of Rome”, the books of Polybius provide the most important, as well as the most reliable source of the history of this period.

In addition to his access to the family records and private letters of both Scipio Africanus and Aemilius Paullus, he also personally met and interviewed eyewitnesses of the events of the Second Punic war, including Gaius Laelius and Masinissa, the King of Numidia.

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.”

“Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories.”

“A strong mind always hopes, and has always cause to hope.”

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