Article

Polybius

Craige Champion

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online June 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0047
Polybius

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Polybius is the most important source for the rise of Roman imperialism during the Middle Roman Republic (c. 265–c. 150 bce). By ancient historiographical standards, his work is of the highest quality, and in this regard he is often compared with Thucydides. To be sure, his Greek prose style is inelegant—so much so that the ancient literary critic Dionysius of Halicarnassus remarked that no one could endure reading his work to the end (On Composition, 4). But Polybius’s stringent demands for historical accuracy, as well as the monumental importance of his theme—accounting for Rome’s rise to world power—more than compensate for his deficiencies in style. His political theory, and especially his ideas on the mixed constitution and government by a system of checks and balances, has had a profound impact on subsequent political thinkers in the Western tradition.

Article.  3272 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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