Metabolē Politeiōn: Roman and Achaean Degeneration in the Fragmentary Books

Craige B. Champion

in Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520237643
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929890 | DOI:
Metabolē Politeiōn: Roman and Achaean Degeneration in the Fragmentary Books

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This chapter investigates Polybius's collective representations in the fragmentary text following book 6, the period in which Polybius considered Rome to have passed its zenith. The representation of moral degeneration and “barbarous” behavior serves almost as a leitmotiv for the extant chapters of books 7–15. In book 8, Polybius reiterates the high level of preparedness of both Rome and Carthage in the Hannibalic War. In book 16, he criticizes his contemporary, the Rhodian historian Zeno. Books 16–29 continue the general portrayal of degeneration in the Mediterranean world in the period following the battle at Zama and the establishment of Roman hegemony. The narrative pattern of an increasing degeneration at Rome and in the Achaean Confederation continues in books 30–39. The study of Polybius's historical narrative in part 2 yields important general points for the contextual interpretation that follows in part 3.

Keywords: Polybius; fragmentary text; Rome; moral degeneration; barbarous behavior; Hannibalic War; Zama; Roman hegemony; Achaean Confederation

Chapter.  12152 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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