The Ancient Library
 

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ALEXANDRINE PERIOD. 893

war in the first two books, which thus formed an introduction to the body of the work. With the fall of the Macedonian kingdom the supremacy of the Roman dominion was decided, and nothing more remained for the other nations of the world than to yield submission to the latter. The second part of the work, which formed a kind of supplement to the for­mer part, comprised the period from the overthrow of Perseus, in B.C. 168, to the fall of Corinth, in B.C. 146. The history of the conquest of Greece seems to have been completed in the thirty-ninth book, and the fortieth book probably contained a chronological summary of the whole work.1

The history of Polybius is one of the most valuable works that has come down to us from antiquity. He had a clear apprehension of the knowledge which a historian must possess ; and his preparatory studies were carried on with the greatest energy and perseverance. Thus he not only collected with accuracy and care an account of the events that he intended to narrate, but he also studied the history of the Roman con­stitution, and made distant journeys to become acquainted with the ge­ography of the countries that he had to describe in his work. In addition to this, he'had a strong judgment and a striking love of truth, and, from having himself taken an active part in political life, he was able to judge of the motives and actions of the great actors in history in a way that no mere scholar or rhetorician could possibly do. But the characteristic feature of his work, and the one which distinguishes it from all other his­tories which have come down to us from antiquity, is its didactic nature. He did not, like other historians, write to afford amusement to his read­ers ; his object was to teach by the past a knowledge of the future, and to deduce from previous events lessons of practical wisdom. Hence he calls his work a Pragmateia (TrpayjuaTeia), that is, a systematic history, in which events are put together connectedly, as causes and effects, and not merely a History (tVropfa), where they are given in the order of time.2 The value of history consisted, in his opinion, in the instruction that might be obtained from it. Thus the narrative of events became, in his view, of secondary importance ; they formed only the text of the political and moral discourses which it was the province of the historian to deliver.

Excellent, however, as these discourses are, they materially detract from the value of the history as a work of art. Their frequent occurrence interrupts the continuity of the narrative, and destroys, to a great extent, the interest of the reader in the scenes which are described. Moreover, he frequently inserts long episodes which have little connection with the main subject of his work, because they have a didactic tendency. Thus we find that one whole book (the sixth) was devoted to a history of the Roman constitution ; and in the same manner episodes were introduced even on subjects which did not teach any political or moral truths, but simply because his countrymen entertained erroneous opinions on those subjects. The thirty-fourth book, for example, seems to have been ex­clusively a treatise on geography. Although Polybius was thus enabled to impart much important information, of which we in modern times es-

* Smith, L c, 2~ Polyb., i., 1, 3 ; Hi., 32,

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