Polybius: "Why Romans and Not Greeks Govern the World", C. 140 Bce
Submitted By gokatiego
Polybius: "Why Romans and Not Greeks Govern the World", c. 140 BCE ________________________________________
Polybius (c. 200 - 110s BCE) was born into a prominent family in Greece and served as a leader in the Third Macedonian War against Rome. After losing to Rome in the Battle of Pydna (168 BCE), he was deported, along with 1000 other Greeks, to and held captive in Italy. Despite his status as an enemy detainee, Polybius became a friend of the family of Scipio Aemilianus, one of Rome's most remarkable and well-connected politicians. In honor of his new home and new associates, Polybius composed a history of Rome's rise to world power in the course of his own lifetime. As an outsider, Polybius may have misinterpreted Rome's imperialistic moves in the Mediterranean, and he may have exaggerated the organizational genius of the Republic and its leaders. However, his famous analysis of Rome's "mixed constitution" has influenced political thinkers for centuries, and it was standard reading in the Age of Enlightenment, when the American Constitution was created. It is important to remember, however, that the Roman Republic, unlike that of the United States, did not have a standard document that could be used as a reference; the word "constitution" in Rome's case was meant in a general, non-textual sense, as the "make-up" or "organization" of Rome's public affairs.
Source: Polybius, Historiarum reliquiae (Paris: Didot, 1839), VI, iii-xvii, 338-48, passim; trans. and condensed by Henry A. Myers.
With those Greek states which have often risen to greatness and then experienced a complete change of fortune, it is easy to describe their past and to predict their future. For there is no difficulty in reporting the known facts, and it is not hard to fore¬tell the future by inference from the past. But it is no simple matter to...