Polybius, The Histories, Volume I

LCL 128: x-xi

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Together with Thucydides and Tacitus, Polybius ranks among the outstanding historians of antiquity. While he does not equal these two in sheer intellectual power, his work makes up for this slight deficiency by the broad range and uniqueness of its content. What he tells is nothing less than the story of Rome’s surge, within the short span of some fifty years, to undisputed rule over the Mediterranean world. The author witnessed the later stages of this process as an interested observer, once in a while even as an active participant. For his task he benefitted from close personal connections to some of the leading Roman figures instrumental in bringing about Rome’s dominion. His work covers the time during which the Republic first annexed territories overseas that were to become its first provinces: Sicily in 241, Sardinia with Corsica in 227, Hispania in 197, Macedonia in 148, Achaea (added to Macedonia) in 146.* A little later he also witnessed the acquisition of two others, Asia in 129 and Gallia Narbonensis in 121. Polybius originally intended to end his report with the defeat of King Perseus of Macedonia in 168, but then continued down to the year 146, which saw the destruction of both Carthage and Corinth. With this addition, the detailed