him maintained by Quintilian and by Lucian may reasonably be taken to imply their agreement with Dionysius as to his merits as a master of' style. On the other hand, Cicero (De off. iii. 32) describes him as “bonus auctor in primis”; in the De republica (ii. 14) he praises highly his accuracy in matters of chronology; and Cicero's younger contemporary, Marcus Brutus, was a devoted student of Polybius, and was engaged on the eve of the battle of Pharsalia in compiling an epitome of his histories (Suidas, s.v.; Plutarch, Brut. 4). Livy, however, notwithstanding the extent to which he used his writings (see Livy), speaks of him in such qualified terms as to suggest the idea that his strong artistic sensibilities had been wounded by Polybius's literary defects. He has nothing better to say of him than that he is “by no means contemptible” (xxx. 45), and “not an untrustworthy author” (xxxiii. 10). Posidonius and Strabo, both of them Stoics like Polybius himself, are said to have written continuations of his history (Suidas, s.v.; Strabo p. 515). Arrian in the early part of the 2nd and Aelian in the 3rd century both speak of him with respect, though with reference mainly to his excellence as an authority on the art of war. In addition to his Histories Polybius was the author of the following smaller works: a life of Philopoemen (Polyb. x. 24), a history of the Numantine War (Cic. Ad Fam. v. 12), a treatise on tactics (Polyb. ix. 20; Arrian, Tactica; Aelian, Tact. i.). The geographical treatise, referred to by Geminus, is possibly identical with the thirty-fourth book of the Histories (Schweighäuser, Praef. p. 184).
Authorities.—The complete books (i.-v.) of the Histories were first printed in a Latin translation by Nicholas Perotti in 1473. The date of the first Greek edition, that by Obsopaeus, is 1530. For a full account of these and of later editions, as well as of the extant MSS., see Schweighäuser's Preface to his edition of Polybius. Our knowledge of the contents of the fragmentary books is derived partly from quotations in ancient writers, but mainly from two collections of excerpts; one, probably the work of a late Byzantine compiler, was first printed) at Basel in 1549 and contains extracts from books vi.-xviii. (περὶ πρεσβείων, περὶ αρετῆς καὶ κακαίς); the other consists of two fragments from the “select passages” from Greek historians compiled by the directions of Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century. To these must be added the Vatican excerpts edited by Angelo Mai in the present century.
The following are the more important modern editions of Polybius: Ernesti (3 vols., 1763–1764); Schweighäuser (8 vols., 1793, and Oxford, 1823); Bekker (2 vols., 1844); L. Dindorf (4 vols., 1866–1868, 2nd ed., T. Büttner-Wobst, 5 vols., Leipzig, 1882–1904); Hultsch (4 vols., 1867–1871); J. L. Strachan-Davidson, Selections from Polybius (Oxford, 1888). For the literature of the subject, see Engelmann, Biblioth. script. class.: Script. graeci, pp. 646–650 (8th ed. Leipzig, 1880). See also W. W. Capes, The History of the Achaean League (London, 1888); F. Susemihl, Gesch. d. griech. Litteratur in d. Alexandrinerzeit, ii. 80–128 (Leipzig, 1891–1892); O. Cuntz, Polybios und sein Werk (Leipzig, 1902); R. v. Scala, Die Studien des Polybios (Stuttgart, 1890); J. B. Bury, Ancient Greek Historians (1909), “a whole-hearted appreciation of Polybius”; J. L. Strachan-Davidson, in Hellenica, pp. 353–387 (London, 1898), and in Appendix II. to Selections from Polybius pp. 642–668 (Oxford, 1888). (H. F. P.; X.)
POLYCARP (c. 69-c. 155), bishop of Smyrna and one of the Apostolic Fathers, derives much of his importance from the fact that he links together the apostolic age and that of nascent Catholicism. The sources from which we derive our knowledge of the life and activity of Polycarp are: (1) a few notices in the writings of Irenaeus, (2) the Epistle of Polycarp to the Church at Philippi, (3) the Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp, (4) the Epistle of the Church at Smyrna to the Church at Philomelium, giving an account of the martyrdom of Polycarp. Since these authorities have all been more or less called in question and some of them entirely rejected by recent criticism, it is necessary to say a few words about each.
1. The Statements of Irenaeus are found (a) in his Adversus haereses, iii. 3, 4, (b) in the letter to Victor, where Irenaeus gives an account of Polycarp's visit to Rome, (c) in the letter to Florinus—a most important document which describes the intercourse between Irenaeus and Polycarp and Polycarp's relation with St John. No objection has been made against the genuineness of the statements in the Adversus haereses, but the authenticity of the two letters has been stoutly contested in recent times by van Manen. The main attack is directed against the Epistle to Florinus, doubtless because of its importance. “The manifest exaggerations,” says van Manen, “coupled with the fact that Irenaeus never shows any signs of acquaintance with Florinus . . . enable us to perceive clearly that a writer otherwise unknown is speaking to us here.” The criticism of van Manen has, however, found no supporters outside the Dutch school. The epistle is quoted by Eusebius (v. 20), and is accepted as genuine by Harnack and Krüger. The relevant statements in the letter, moreover, are supported by the references to Polycarp which we find in the body of Irenaeus's great work.
2. The Epistle of Polycarp.—Though Irenaeus states that Polycarp wrote many “letters to the neighbouring churches or to certain of the brethren” only one has been preserved, viz. the well-known letter to the Philippians. The epistle is largely involved in the Ignatian controversy (see Ignatius). The testimony which it affords to the Ignatian Epistles is so striking that those scholars who regard these letters as spurious are bound to reject the Epistle of Polycarp altogether, or at any rate to look upon it as largely interpolated. The former course has been adopted by Schwegler, Zeller, and Hilgenfeld, the latter by Ritschl and Lipsius. The rehabilitation of the Ignatian letters in modern times has, however, practically destroyed the attack on the Epistles of Polycarp. The external evidence in its favour is of considerable weight. Irenaeus (iii. 3, 4) expressly mentions and commends a “very adequate” (ἱκανωτάτη) letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, and we have no reason for doubting the identity of this letter mentioned by Irenaeus with our epistle. Eusebius (iii. 36) quotes extracts from the epistle, and some of the extracts contain the very passages which the critics have marked as interpolations, and Jerome (De Vir. Ill. xvii.) testifies that in his time the epistle was publicly read in the Asiatic churches. The internal evidence is equally strong. There is absolutely no motive for a forgery in the contents of the epistle. As Harnack says, “There is no trace of any tendency beyond the immediate purpose of maintaining the true Christian life in the church and warning it against covetousness and against an unbrotherly spirit. The occasion of the letter was a case of embezzlement, the guilty individual being a presbyter at Philippi. It shows a fine combination of mildness with severity; the language is simple but powerful, and, while there is undoubtedly a lack of original ideas, the author shows remarkable skill in weaving together pregnant sentences and impressive warnings selected from the apostolic epistles and the first Epistle of Clement. In these circumstances it would never have occurred to any one to doubt the genuineness of the epistle or to suppose that it had been interpolated, but for the fact that in several passages reference is made to Ignatius and his epistles.” The date of the epistle depends upon the date of the Ignatian letters and is now generally fixed between 112 and 118. An attempt has been made in some quarters to prove that certain allusions in the epistle imply the rise of the heresy of Marcion and that it cannot therefore be placed earlier than 140. Lightfoot, however, has proved that Polycarp's statements may equally well be directed against Corinthianism or any other form of Docetism, while some of his arguments are absolutely inapplicable to Marcionism.
3. The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp.—This epistle has of course been subjected to the same criticism as has been directed against the other epistles of Ignatius (see Ignatius). Over and above the general criticism, which may now be said to have been completely answered by the investigations of Zahn, Lightfoot and Harnack, one or two special arguments have been brought against the Epistle to Polycarp. Ussher, for instance, while accepting the other six epistles, rejected this on the ground that Jerome says that Ignatius only sent one letter to Smyrna—a mistake due to his misinterpretation of Eusebius. Some modern scholars (among whom Harnack was formerly numbered, though he has modified his views on the point) feel a difficulty about the peremptory tone which Ignatius adopts towards Polycarp. There was some force in this argument when the Ignatian Epistles were dated about 140, as in that case Polycarp would have been an old and venerable man at the time. But now that the date is put back to about 112 the difficulty vanishes, since Polycarp was not much over forty when he received the letter. We must remember, too, that Ignatius was writing under the consciousness of impending martyrdom and evidently felt that this gave him the right to criticize the bishops and churches of Asia.
4. The Letter of the Church at Smyrna to the Philomelians is a most important document, because we derive from it all our information with regard to Polycarp's martyrdom. Eusebius has preserved the greater part of this epistle (iv. 15), but we possess it entire with various concluding observations in several Greek MSS., and also in a Latin translation. The epistle gives a minute description of the persecution in Smyrna, of the last days of Polycarp and of his trial and martyrdom; and as it contains many instructive details and professes to have been written not long after the events to which it refers, it has always been regarded as one of the most precious remains of the 2nd century. Certain recent
critics, however, have questioned the authenticity of the narrative.
- Ency. Bib. iii. 3490.
- Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur, i. 593-594.
- Early Christian Literature (Eng. trans., 1897), p. 150.
- Letter to Florinus ap. Euseb. v. 20.
- Nachapostolisches Zeitalter, ii. 154.
- Apostolgeschichte, p. 52.
- Apostolische Väter, p. 272.
- Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche, p. 584.
- Ueber das Verhältniss, &c., p. 14.