The Histories (Paton translation)/Book XXXIX

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The Histories  (1922)  by Polybius, translated by W. R. Paton
Fragments of Book XXXIX

I. Affairs of Greece.


Aulus Postumius was a man deserving of mention for the following reason. He was a member of one of the first families, but naturally wordy, loquacious, and vainglorious to excess. From childhood he had set his heart on acquiring Greek culture and the Greek tongue, and in both he was too much of an adept, so much so that it was partly his fault that the admiration for Greece became offensive in the eyes of the older and more distinguished Romans. He even went so far as to attempt to write in Greek a poem and a serious history, in the preface to which he begs his readers to excuse him, if, as a Roman, he has not a complete mastery of the Greek language and their method of treating the subject. Marcus Porcius Cato answered him, as I think, very properly on the subject. For he said he wondered what reason he had for making this apology. Had he indeed been ordered by the Amphictyonic Council to write a history, possibly he would have been justified in speaking thus and offering excuses; but to undertake of his own accord and under no compulsion to write a history, and then to beg to be pardoned for his barbarisms, was obviously ludicrous, and served just as little purpose, as if a man who had entered his name at the games for the boxing-contest or the pancration, upon appearing in the stadium, when the time came for the fight, were to beg the spectators to pardon him if he could not support the labour of the tussle or the blows.