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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Excerpted on author's behalf:

During his sixteen-year detention in Rome, Polybius’s initial admiration for the Romans faded as he came to see them in an increasingly unfavorable light. Political reasons prevented him from overtly expressing his views, but he provided clues for his reversed opinion throughout the Histories. As Rome’s power grew so did its overconfidence and arrogance. This eventually provided the catalyst for the demise of the Republic. Although he died roughly one hundred years prior to the fall of the Republic, the signs of change were evident to him. In his account of the final destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, Polybius described how the Romans razed Carthage to the ground by “stratagem and deceit.” In time, he had come to believe that every form of government was transitory, including that of Rome, but to grasp how he was able to analyze the organic nature of Rome’s mixed constitution, it is crucial to understand how he believed all forms of leadership worked based on his assessment of human behavior.

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