Aemilius Paullus Sees Greece: Travel, Vision, and Power in Polybius

Amy Russell

in Imperialism, Cultural Politics, and Polybius

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600755
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738791 | DOI:
Aemilius Paullus Sees Greece: Travel, Vision, and Power in Polybius

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This chapter analyses Polybius' fragmentary account of Aemilius Paullus' trip around Greece in 168 bce. The episode, located at the join between the two halves of Polybius' work, provides a rare early insight into the relationship between Roman power and Greek culture from the Greek perspective. Polybius emphasises Paullus' desire to see the Greek world, and vision is consistently emphasised. Two models of vision in the context of travel can be discerned in the text, one in which vision is an imperialist, possessive act and a second in which it is a reverent learning process reminiscent of the Greek theoria. The tension between the two models allows for the mutual construction of Greek and Roman identity, and positions Paullus the traveller as the historian's alter ego.

Keywords: Polybius; L. Aemilius Paullus; travel; vision; theoria; Roman imperialism; Greek identity

Chapter.  6807 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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