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The Histories

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  194 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Here is the first new translation for over thirty years of Polybius' Histories, the major source for our knowledge of the Eternal City's early rise to power, covering the years of the Second Punic War, the defeat of Hannibal, and Rome's pivotal victories in the Mediterranean. Polybius, himself a leading Greek politician of the time, attributes Rome's success to the greatne ...more
Paperback, 501 pages
Published November 5th 2010 by Oxford University Press (first published 146)
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Polybe, grec envoyé comme otage à Rome au deuxième siècle était devenu l'ami des puissants de la plus célèbre des cités Latine. Il entreprit de rédiger une histoire universelle des événements récents qui avaient vu l'essor inexorable de l'influence romaine sur les affaires du monde méditerranéenne. Les événements relatés vont des prémisses de la première guerre punique (laquelle fait défaut dans Tite-Live) jusqu'à la destruction finale de Carthage lors de la troisième guerre punique. Les théâtre ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I am not a historian, and have encountered almost all the content of this book in later works that probably just cribbed from Polybius. My rating reflects my enjoyment of the history, not it's importance.

The content itself is a roller coaster ride. It begins with books covering two wars between Rome and Carthage. The history is exciting and the writing captures it. Next are two books on The Social War occurring in Greece. Compared to the previous conflict, this is children squabbling o
Steve Gordon
Jun 01, 2012 Steve Gordon rated it it was amazing
It is an absolute shame that most of this work did not make it down to the present day. And on that note I make my only criticism of this edition: the jacket and web material on this book state that it covers the Second Punic War and the later destruction of Carthage. The original work may have, but what is left to us is the history of the Second Punic War up to the battle of Cannae and nothing further. My favorite quote is on the use of religion as a means of control: "In Rome, nothing plays a ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Jack rated it it was amazing
Polybius' histories extended over dozens of volumes, of which only a few remain fully intact. This is a shame. The man was an intelligent critic of history, military leadership and politics, drawing on a vast array of experience as a Greek leader, and later his relationships in the Roman empire, as well as personal fact-finding journeys, such as that during which he retraced Hannibal's invasion route. Interestingly, it is the fact that he was prevented from carrying out a normal life that likely ...more
Geoff Balme
Nov 13, 2015 Geoff Balme rated it really liked it
Polybius like many of his contemporaries wrote many volumes 30-40 volumes of work. Unlike many of his contemporaries 5 full books, and several fragments remain of his efforts.
Polybius's surviving works concentrate on the campaigns of Carthage against Rome, but also delve into the surrounding military and political scene in Greece and Asia Minor and Egypt. It is largely about warfare of course, and not much about the details of "regular" life that make Herodotus's earlier works so fascinating.
Jimmy Lu
Mar 04, 2016 Jimmy Lu rated it really liked it
Unfortunately Polybius' work stopped quite early in the beginning. To us, his universal history stopped right after the battle of Cannae. I have come across the content here on the Romans before (in later works), but the two books on the social war in Greece were fresh and quite enjoyable. It was indeed telling of the times. The conflicts between the Greek monarchs and leagues, their wars and truces, their ambitions and intrigues were like child's play when compared to the struggle of life and d ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Raja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: antiquity
OK, so why did I spend my time reading this book?

To learn more about the Mediterranean - the cultures, religions, civilizations, empires, outlooks, beliefs and ways of life that existed on its shores through time.

Did I get what I wanted from reading it?

Yes! The author himself provides a huge window into his world. His assumptions, judgments, opinions and reflections convey the outlook, values and beliefs of at least one segment of a society that flourished back then.

He markets his book as requ
Chris Wolfington
Feb 23, 2015 Chris Wolfington rated it it was amazing
Polybius was a leading politician and military officer in ancient Greece, who believed that historians should only write about events they are personally familiar with. He was close to several people he writes about, and he himself becomes an historical figure towards the end of his work.

His work focuses on the period from 264-145 B.C., or, the period of the Punic Wars. He describes his book as a "universal history", meaning he gives the histories of all major powers at the time: Rome, Carthage,
Thomas Ray
May 19, 2014 Thomas Ray marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
According to Simon Hornblower, in his review published Sat. May 17, 2014 in the Wall Street Journal, Robin Waterfield's 1998 translation of Herodotus' Histories is the best: his second choice is De Selincourt; third Pamela Mensch's 2014 translation; fourth Tom Holland's 2014 translation, not as true to the original; a distant fifth David Grene's 1987 translation, and sixth Enoch Powell's 1949 translation: the latter two use deliberately archaic language: "they are creaking and stilted and thus u ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Rutger rated it really liked it
As a political historian, Polybius is second only to Thucydides and Tacitus. His narration of the Second Punic War is vivid. Illuminating is his description of the Roman constitution, which he characterizes as a balance between the elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.
James Violand
Jul 03, 2014 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of ancient Rome
Shelves: own
An engaging read for the historically minded. He was a Greek prisoner (hostage) who became enamored of the Roman Republic and the merit of its people. This was long before Sulla and Marius started Rome down the road to autocracy. His perspective brings the Republic to life.
The vision may be narrower, but the pedigree is unmistakably Herodotus.
Joe Schmidbauer
Jul 12, 2014 Joe Schmidbauer rated it really liked it
Worth the effort.
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  • The History of Alexander
  • A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture
  • The Poems
  • Leucippe and Clitophon
  • Menander: The Plays and Fragments
  • The Comedies
  • Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of the History of Rome from its Foundation
  • Natural History: A Selection
  • The Jugurthine War and the Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Roman Revolution
  • The "Eclogues" And "Georgics" (Oxford World's Classics)
  • The Histories
  • The Satires of Horace and Persius
  • Euthyphro/Apology/Crito
  • Outlines of Scepticism
  • The Birds and Other Plays
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • Epigrams
Polybius (ca. 200–118 BC), Greek Πολύβιος) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his book called The Histories covering in detail the period of 220–146 BC. He is also renowned for his ideas of political balance in government, which were later used in Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws and in the drafting of the United States Constitution.
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“Can any one be so indifferent or idle as not to care to know by what means, and under what kind of polity, almost the whole inhabited world was conquered and
brought under the dominion of the single city of Rome, and that too within a period of not quite fifty-three years?”
“I will cover minor and major human settlements equally, because most of those which were important in the past have diminished in significance by now, and those which were great in my own time were small in times past. I will mention both equally because I know that human happiness never remains long in the same place.” 0 likes
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