The Rise of the Roman Empire

Introduction

PolybiusHistories (Greek: Ἱστορίαι Historíai) were originally written in 40 volumes, only the first five of which are extant in their entirety. The bulk of the work is passed down to us through collections of excerpts kept in libraries in Byzantium, for the most part.

The arrival of texts of Polybius in the west did not begin until the 15th century AD. As an interesting footnote to Polybius’ appearance in the 15th century, there is an argument made by J. H. Hexter as to the appearance of Polybius in Machiavelli, especially the section that survives in Book 6, the section which covers the description of the Roman constitution as a mixed constitution. The work survives from this period in the West in the works of such authors as Montesquieu, which would itself influence the nature of the United States Constitution.

The Histories are now read more for their insight on Hellenistic Greek and the beginnings of the Koine Dialectice or Common Dialect of this Hellenistic period.


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