Polybius, The Histories

LCL 138: 294-295

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The Histories of Polybius

ἀπεριστάτου ῥᾳστώνης κατὰ τὸν βίον ποιοῦνται τὰς ἐπισκέψεις, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ τῶν ἐν ταῖς ἀτυχίαις περιπετειῶν 6καὶ τῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐπιτυχίαις κατορθωμάτων, μόνον νομίζοντες εἶναι ταύτην ἀνδρὸς τελείου βάσανον τὸ τὰς ὁλοσχερεῖς μεταβολὰς τῆς τύχης μεγαλοψύχως δύνασθαι καὶ γενναίως ὑποφέρειν, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον χρὴ 7θεωρεῖν καὶ πολιτείαν. διόπερ οὐχ ὁρῶν ποίαν ἄν τις ὀξυτέραν ἢ μείζονα λάβοι μεταβολὴν τῶν καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς τῆς τότε1 Ῥωμαίοις συμβάσης, εἰς τοῦτον ἀπεθέμην τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν προειρημένων ἀπολογισμόν· γνοίη δ᾿ ἄν τις τὸ μέγεθος τῆς μεταβολῆς ἐκ τούτων. [Exc. Vat. p. 369 Mai. 24. 4 Heys.]

8Ὅτι τὸ ψυχαγωγοῦν ἅμα καὶ τὴν ὠφέλειαν ἐπιφέρον τοῖς φιλομαθοῦσι τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν ἡ τῶν αἰτιῶν 9θεωρία καὶ τοῦ βελτίονος ἐν ἑκάστοις αἵρεσις. μεγίστην δ᾿ αἰτίαν ἡγητέον ἐν ἅπαντι πράγματι καὶ πρὸς ἐπιτυχίαν καὶ τοὐναντίον τὴν τῆς πολιτείας σύστασιν· 10ἐκ γάρ ταύτης ᾗπερ ἐκ πηγῆς οὐ μόνον ἀναφέρεσθαι συμβαίνει πάσας τὰς ἐπινοίας καὶ τὰς ἐπιβολὰς τῶν ἔργων, ἀλλὰ καὶ συντέλειαν λαμβάνειν. [Exc. Vat. p. 370 M. 24. 30 H.]

11Ὅτι γὰρ᾿ αδύνατον ἐν τῷ ψεύδει μόνον οὐδ᾿ ἀπολογίαν ἐπιδέχεται τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσιν.

II. De Variis Rerum Publicarum Formis

3. Τῶν μὲν γὰρ Ἐλληνικῶν πολιτευμάτων ὅσα πολλάκις μὲν ηὔξηται, πολλάκις δὲ τῆς εἰς τἀναντία


Book VI

choose for investigation those periods of their life which they passed in composure and repose, but seasons when they were afflicted by adversity or blessed with success, deeming the sole test of a perfect man to be the power of bearing high-mindedly and bravely the most complete reverses of fortune, so it should be in our judgment of constitutions. Therefore, as I could not see any greater or more violent change in our own times than this which has happened to the Romans, I reserved my account of the constitution for the present occasion. One can recognize the degree of this change from the following.

What chiefly attracts and chiefly benefits students of history is just this—the study of causes and the consequent power of choosing what is best in each case. Now the chief cause of success or the reverse in all matters is the form of a state’s constitution; for springing from this, as from a fountain head, all designs and plans of action not only originate, but reach their consummation.

Only the impossible does not provide any excuse for those who lie.

II. On the Forms of States

3. In the case of those Greek states which have often risen to greatness and have often experienced a complete

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.polybius-histories.2010