The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



two Ptolemies, Philometor and his brother Euer-getes II., sent to the Achaeans, to request succour against Antiochus Epiphanes, and, if this were refused, to beg that Lycortas and Polybius might come to them, in order to aid them with their advice in the conduct of the war. But as Antio­chus was shortly after compelled by the Romans to relinquish his attempts against the Ptolemies, nei­ther of these measures was necessary, and Polybius accordingly remained at home (xxix. 8).

After the fall of Perseus and the conquest of Macedonia, two Roman commissioners, C. Claudius and Cn. Dolabella, visited Peloponnesus, for the purpose of advancing the Roman interests in the south of Greece. At the instigation of Callicrates, they commanded that 1000 Achaeans should be carried to Rome, to answer the charge of not having assisted the Romans against Perseus. This num­ber included all the best and noblest part of the nation, and among them was Polybius. They arrived in Italy in b.c. 167, but, instead of being put upon their trial, they were distributed among the Etruscan towns. Polybius was more fortunate than his other companions in misfortune. He had probably become acquainted in Macedonia with Aemilius Paulus, or his sons Fabius and Scipio, and the two young men now obtained permission from the praetor for Polybius to reside at Rome in the house of their father Paulus. Scipio was then eighteen years of age, and soon became warmly attached to the illustrious exile, and availed him­self of his advice and assistance, both in his pri­vate studies and his public life. The friendship thus formed between the young Roman noble and the Greek exile was of great advantage to both par­ties : Scipio was accompanied by his friend in all his military expeditions, and received much advan­tage from the experience and knowledge of the latter ; while Polybius, besides finding a liberal patron and protector in his exile, was able by his means to obtain access to public documents, and accumulate materials for his great historical work (Polyb. xxxii. 9, &c. ; Pans. vii. 10).

The Achaean exiles remained in Italy seventeen years. The Achaeans had frequently sent em­bassies to the senate supplicating the trial or release of their countrymen, but always without success. Even their earnest entreaty, that Polybius and Stratius alone might be set at liberty, had been refused. At length, in b. c. 151, Scipio exerted his influence with Cato the Censor to get him to support the restoration of the exiles, and the authority of the latter carried the point, though not without a hard struggle and a protracted debate in the senate. After their restoration had been decreed, Polybius (was anxious to obtain from the senate on behalf of himself and his countrymen the additional favour of being reinstated in the honours which they had formerly enjoyed ; but upon con­sulting Cato, the old man bade him, with a smile, beware of returning, like Ulysses, to the Cyclop's den, to fetch away any trifles he had left behind him. (Polyb. xxxv. 6 ; Plut. Cat.Maj. 9 ; Paus.vii. 10.) Polybius returned to Peloponnesus in this year with the other Achaean exiles, who had been reduced during their banishment from 1000 to 300. During his stay in Greece, which was, however, not long, he exhorted his countrymen to peace and unanimity, and endeavoured to counteract the mad projects of the party who were using every effort to hurry the Achaeans into a hopeless struggle


with the Roman power. When it was too late, the Achaeans saw and recognised the wisdom of his advice ; and a statue erected to his honour bore on its pedestal the inscription, " that Hellas would have been saved, if the advice of Polybius had been followed" (Pans. viii. 37. § 2). In the first year of the third Punic war, b. c. 149, the consul M\ Manilius sent for Polybius to attend him at Lily-baeum, but upon reaching Corcyra, he heard from the consuls that the Carthaginians had given hos­tages, and thinking, therefore, that the war was at an end, and that his presence was no longer needed, he returned to Peloponnesus (Polyb. Exc. Vatican. p. 447). But lie soon left it again in order to join Scipio. His Roman connections probably made him an object of suspicion with what was called the independent party ; and his residence in his native country may therefore have been not very pleasant to him. In addition to which he was no doubt; anxious to be a spectator of the final struggle which was now going on between Rome and Car­thage, and the history of which he intended to write.

Polybius was present with Scipio at the de­struction of Carthage, b. c. 146 (Appian, Pun. 132); and immediately after that event he hurried to Greece, where the Achaeans were waging a mad and hopeless war against the Romans. Whether he was present at the capture of Corinth may well be questioned, and it is probable, as Thirlwall {Hist. ofGh-eece, vol. viii. p. 455, note 3) has remarked, that he would not have hastened to Peloponnesus till the struggle was over. He must, however, have arrived there soon afterwards ; and he exerted all his influence to alleviate the mia-fortunes of his countrymen, and to procure favour­able terms for them. As a friend of Scipio, the conqueror of Carthage, he was received with marked distinction ; and the want of patriotism with which his enemies had charged him, enabled him now to render his country far more effectual service than he could otherwise have done. The statues of Philopoemen and Aratus, which the Roman commissioners had ordered to be conveyed to Italy, were allowed, at his intercession, to re­main in Peloponnesus. So much respect did the commissioners pay him, that when they quitted the country in the spring of b. c. 145, after arrang­ing its affairs, and reducing it to the form of a Roman province, they ordered him to visit the various cities, and explain the new laws and con­stitution. In the execution of this duty, Polybius spared no pains or trouble. He traversed the whole country, and with indefatigable zeal he drew up laws and political institutions for the dif­ferent cities, and decided disputes that had arisen between them. He further obtained from the Romans a relaxation of some of the most severe enactments which had been made against the con­quered Achaeans. His grateful fellow-countrymen acknowledged the great services he had rendered them, and statues were erected to his honour at Megalopolis, Mantineia, Pallantium, Tegea, and other places. (Polyb. xl. 8—10 ; Paus. viii. 9, 30, 37, 44, 48.)

Polybius seems now to have devoted himself to the composition of the great historical work, for which he had long been collecting materials. At what period of his life he made the journies into foreign countries for the purpose of visiting the places which he had to describe in his history, it i«

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of