Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/32

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18
POLYBIUS

they should be planted about the end of September or not later than October. Plants for exhibition present a much better and cleaner appearance if kept during winter in a cold well-aired frame.

For the flower borders what are called fancy polyanthuses are adopted. These are best raised annually from seed, the young crop each year blooming in succession. The seed should be sown as soon as ripe, the young plants being allowed to stand through the winter in the seed bed. In April or May they are planted out in a bed of rich garden soil, and they will bloom abundantly the following spring. A few of the better “thrum-eyed” sorts (those having the anthers in the eye, and the pistil sunk in the tube) should be allowed to ripen seed; the rest may be thrown away. In some remarkable forms which have been cultivated for centuries the ordinarily green calyx has become petaloid; when this is complete it forms the hose-in-hose primrose of gardeners. There are also a few well-known double-flowered varieties.

POLYBIUS (c. 204–122 B.C.), Greek historian, was a native of Megalopolis in Arcadia, the youngest of Greek cities (Paus. viii. 9), which, however, played an honourable part in the last days of Greek freedom as a stanch member of the Achaean League (q.v.). His father, Lycortas, was the intimate friend of Philopoemen, and on the death of the latter, in 182, succeeded him as leader of the league. The date of Polybius's birth is doubtful. He tells us himself that in 181 he had not yet reached the age (? thirty years, Polyb. xxix. 9) at which an Achaean was legally capable of holding office (xxiv. 6). We learn from Cicero (Ad Fam. v. 12) that he outlived the Numantine War, which ended in 132, and from Lucian (Macrob. 22) that he died at the age of eighty-two. The majority of authorities therefore place his birth between 214 and 204 B.C. Little is known of his early life. As the son of Lycortas he was naturally brought into close contact with the leading men of the Achaean League. With Philopoemen he seems to have been on intimate terms. After Philopoemen's tragic death in Messenia (182) he was entrusted with the honourable duty of conveying home the urn in which his ashes had been deposited (Plut. Phil. 21). In 181, together with his father Lycortas and the younger Aratus, he was appointed, in spite of his youth, a member of the embassy which was to visit Ptolemy Epiphanes, king of Egypt, a mission, however, which the sudden death of Ptolemy brought to a premature end (xxv. 7). The next twelve years of his life are a blank, but in 169 he reappears as a trusted adviser of the Achaeans at a difficult crisis in the history of the League. In 171 war had broken out between Rome and the Macedonian king Perseus, and the Achaean statesmen were divided as to the policy to be pursued; there were good reasons for fearing that the Roman senate would regard neutrality as indicating a secret leaning towards Macedon. Polybius therefore declared for an open alliance with Rome, and his views were adopted. It was decided to send an Achaean force to cooperate with the Roman general, and Polybius was selected to command the cavalry. The Roman consul declined the proffered assistance, but Polybius accompanied him throughout the campaign, and thus gained his first insight into the military system of Rome. In the next year (168) both Lycortas and Polybius were on the point of starting at the head of 1200 Achaeans to take service in Egypt against the Syrians, when an intimation from the Roman commander that armed interference was undesirable put a stop to the expedition (xxix. 23). The success of Rome in the war with Perseus was now assured. The final victory was rapidly followed by the arrival in Achaea of Roman commissioners charged with the duty of establishing Roman interests there. Polybius was arrested with 1000 of the principal Achaeans, but, while his companions were condemned to a tedious incarceration in the country towns of Italy, he obtained permission to reside in Rome. This privilege he owed to the influence of L. Aemilius Paullus and his two sons, Scipio and Fabius (xxxii. 9). Polybius was received into Aemilius's house, and became the instructor of his sons. Between Scipio (P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus the younger), the future conqueror of Carthage, and himself a friendship soon sprang up, which ripened into a lifelong intimacy, and was of inestimable service to him throughout his career. It protected him from interference, opened to him the highest circles of Roman society, and enabled him to acquire a personal influence with the leading men, which stood him in good stead when he afterwards came forward to mediate between his countrymen and Rome. It placed within his reach opportunities for a close study of Rome and the Romans such as had fallen to no historian before him, and secured him the requisite leisure for using them, while Scipio's liberality more than once supplied him with the means of conducting difficult and costly historical investigations (Pliny, N.H. v. 9). In 151 the few surviving exiles were allowed to return to Greece. But the stay of Polybius in Achaea was brief. The estimation in which he was held at Rome is clearly shown by the anxiety of the consul Marcus (or Manlius) Manilius (149) to take him as his adviser on his expedition against Carthage. Polybius started to join him, but broke off his journey at Corcyra on learning that the Carthaginians were inclined to yield (xxxvi. 3). But when, in 147, Scipio himself took the command in Africa, Polybius hastened to join him, and was an eye-witness of the siege and destruction of Carthage. During his absence in Africa the Achaeans had made a last desperate attempt to assert their independence of Rome. He returned in 146 to find Corinth in ruins, the fairest cities of Achaea at the mercy of the Roman soldiery, and the famous Achaean League shattered to pieces (see Achaean League). All the influence he possessed was freely spent in endeavouring to shield his countrymen from the worst consequences of their rashness. The excesses of the soldiery were checked, and at his special intercession the statues of Aratus and Philopoemen were preserved (xxxix. 14). An even more difficult task was that entrusted to him by the Roman authorities themselves, of persuading the Achaeans to acquiesce in the new regime imposed upon them by their conquerors, and of setting the new machinery in working order. With this work, which he accomplished so as to earn the heartfelt, gratitude of his countrymen (xxxix. 16), his public career seems to, have closed. The rest of his life was, so far as we know, devoted to the great history which is the lasting monument of his fame. He died, at the age of eighty-two, of a fall from his horse (Lucian, Macrob. 22). The base of a statue erected to him by Elis was found at Olympia in 1877. It bears the inscription ἡ πόλις ἡ Ήλείων Πολύβιον Λυκόρτα Μεγαλοπόλίτην.

Of the forty books which made up the history of Polybius, the first five alone have come down to us in a complete form; of the rest we have only more or less copious fragments. But the general plan and scope of the work are explained by Polybius himself. His intention was to make plain how and why it was that “all the known regions of the civilized world had fallen under the sway of Rome” (iii. 1). This empire of Rome, unprecedented in its extent and still more so in the rapidity with which it had been acquired, was the standing wonder of the age, and “who,” he exclaims 1. 1), “is so poor-spirited or indolent as not to wish to know by what means, and thanks to what sort of constitution, the Romans subdued the world in something less than fifty-three years?” These fifty-three years are those between 220 (the point at which the work of Aratus ended) and 168 B.C., and extend therefore from the outbreak of the Hannibalic War to the defeat of Perseus at Pydna. To this period then the main portion of his history is devoted from the third to the thirtieth book inclusive. But for clearness' sake he prefixes in bks. i. and ii. such a preliminary sketch of the earlier history of Rome, of the First Punic War, and of the contemporary events in Greece and Asia, as will enable his readers more fully to understand what follows. This seems to have been his original plan, but at the opening of bk. iii., written apparently after 146, he explains that he thought it desirable to add some account of the manner in which the Romans exercised the power they had won, of their temperament and policy and of the final catastrophe he which destroyed Carthage and for ever broke up the Achaean League (iii. 4, 5). To this appendix, giving the history from 168–146, the last ten books are devoted.

Whatever fault may be found with Polybius, there can be no question that he had formed a high conception of the task before him. He lays repeated stress on two qualities as distinguishing his history from the ordinary run of historical compositions. The first of these, its synoptic character, was partly necessitated by the nature of the period. The various states fringing the basin of the Mediterranean had become so inextricably interwoven that it was no longer possible to deal with them in isolation. Polybius therefore claims for his history that it will take a comprehensive