Polybius Polybius was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period born in Megalopolis, Arcadia (200-118 B. C). He was the son of Lycortas, also a Greek Politician who became the Cavalry commander of the Achaean league (a Hellenistic period of alliance between Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese). The Achaean league existed between 280 and 146 B. C, and at that time Polybius was also a member of the Achaean league in which he spent trying to maintain the independence of Macedonia.
When his father’s protest against Roman control of Macedonia send him to jail, Polybius was deported to Rome as a hostage, however because he was a son of nobility, he was allowed to stay in the high classed house of Lucius Aemilius Paulus. There he was employed to tutor the two sons of Lucius Aemilius. He was allowed to leave Rome after 17 years but Polybius wanted to stay instead as he became loyal to the Roman Republic. He became close friends with one of his younger students now the Roman military commander Scipio Aemilius who was responsible for the destruction of Carthage.
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Polybius himself had seen the destruction of Carthage as he had accompanied his friend as an advisor. After that he had finally returned to Greece to use his high connections and help out with the circumstances there. In Greece he became well known as he was charged of organizing the new form of government in the Greek cities. Polybius then retired back to Rome to finish his historical records. Polybius believed that in order to write historical events you need proof or evidence.
Because of his belief Polybius had traveled a lot in order to interview firsthand witnesses which makes him a very well known historian. His earliest work was a biography of the Greek Statesmen Philopoemer. His most famous work is the book of histories that is made up of 40 volumes in which only 5-6 is preserved. This book mostly talks about the years in which the Roman Empire rose to power (220-167 B. C) It talked about the Punic wars where Rome had defeated it’s great enemy, Cathage.
This book described the conflicts between Hannibal and Cornelius Publius Scipio Africanus, as he was there alongside his friend making him a firsthand witness. The Punic wars was a series of 3 wars between the great cities of Rome and Carthage (located on the coasts of Tunisia). These wars lasted from 264-146 B. C with the victory of Rome at the end. His importance of explaining his work rather than just recording it influenced historians such as Sempronius Asellio. Great authors like Diodorus ,Livy, Plutarch, and Arrien benefited a lot from his work.
After a while the style of Polybius reappeared in the west during the Renaissance. His work got really famous in Italy even though he used very poor Latin. Polybius was known to be a historian’s historian because his work was read by other historians more than it was read by the public. His ideas and believes were more appreciated by politicians such as Cicero, Montesquieu, and John Adams. Through all his ideas and believes he was considered a great teacher of the constitutional theory.