Polybius, Thucydides, and the First Punic War

Tim Rood

in Imperialism, Cultural Politics, and Polybius

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600755
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738791 | DOI:
Polybius, Thucydides, and the First Punic War

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This chapter argues that Polybius engaged with Thucydides in a far more extensive and suggestive way than has been appreciated. It focuses on a particularly rich set of correspondences between two sections of Polybius (his account of the First Punic War and his analysis of the Roman constitution) and two sections of Thucydides (his analysis of the causes of the Peloponnesian War and his account of Athens' doomed invasion of Sicily). It also argues that Polybius picks up Thucydides' broader depiction (in both speech and narrative) of the Athenian and Spartan characters. By exploring these various intertexts, the chapter offers a new way of understanding Polybius' portrayal of Roman expansionism. It suggests that the links discussed are not mere literary ornaments but part of a deeper historiographical patterning of great expeditions which encourages readers to reflect on shifting patterns in space and time, especially with regard to the role of Sicily.

Keywords: Polybius; Thucydides; First Punic War; Greek historiography; intertextuality; Roman imperialism

Chapter.  7298 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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