Polybius' Histories

Polybius' Histories

Polybius' Histories

Polybius' Histories

Synopsis

Polybius' Histories is one of classical antiquity's great political narratives. Written in 40 books (of which only the first five are preserved in full), it originally set out to explain the dramatic rise of Rome in the half century from the war against Hannibal to the defeat and abolishment of the Macedonian kingdom in 167 BC. At a later stage, Polybius extended his coverage down to the Roman destruction of Carthage and Corinth in the year 146 BC. Although written in an ordinary Greek style, the work was composed with great care, clarity and skill, and provides a fascinating discourse on the politics of power. The author was himself a leading Greek politician and general who moved at ease among the most powerful men of the day and participated in many of the events that he describes. This volume provides an accessible introduction to this important work of classical literature. Beginning with an outline of its contents and organization, Brian McGing goes on to examine Polybius' theoretical approach to writing history and the careful artistry behind his work. Later chapters discuss Polybius' eventful life and how it affected his views on history and politics, and analyze the influential theorizing of book six of the Histories. In an epilogue, McGing chronicles the fate of Polybius' work after his death, from classical antiquity to the Renaissance to the American Revolution and up to the present. The volume includes detailed maps and a list of prominent persons.

Excerpt

The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen a massive expansion in courses dealing with ancient civilization and, in particular, the culture and literature of the Greek and Roman world. Never has there been such a flood of good translations available: Oxford’s own World Classics, the Penguin Classics, the Hackett Library, and other series offer the English-speaking reader access to the masterpieces of classical literature from Homer to Augustine. the reader may, however, need more guidance in the interpretation and understanding of these works than can usually be provided in the relatively short introduction that prefaces a work in translation. There is a need for studies of individual works that will provide a clear, lively, and reliable account based on the most up-to-date scholarship without dwelling on minutiae that are likely to distract or confuse the reader.

It is to meet this need that the present series has been devised. the title Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature deliberately puts the emphasis on the literary works themselves. the volumes in this series will each be concerned with a single work (with the exception of cases where a “book” or larger collection of poems is treated as one work). These are neither biographies nor accounts . . .

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