Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature

Georgina Longley

in Imperialism, Cultural Politics, and Polybius

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600755
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738791 | DOI:
Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature

Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses the importance of human nature in Polybius' views on historical causation. Scholars such as Walbank have argued persuasively for Thucydides being an importance predecessor of Polybius, but a comparison of their views on causation has yet to be undertaken. It argues that the connection between the fifth-century bc historian Thucydides and Polybius, writing in the second century bc, extends to the prominent place both assign human beings and human nature in their explanation of historical events. How human nature emerges in these authors, how they envisage its functioning within the historical process, and how both authors make clear its centrality to their work are key aims of the chapter. It aims to show that Polybius expanded upon Thucydides' conception of human nature and developed a sophisticated view of human nature's complexities and how this affected historical explanation.

Keywords: Polybius; Thucydides; historiography; Tyche

Chapter.  6336 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.