Moral Vision in the Histories of Polybius by Arthur M. Eckstein

By Arthur M. Eckstein

Arthur Eckstein's clean and stimulating interpretation demanding situations the best way Polybius' Histories have lengthy been considered. He argues that Polybius evaluates humans and occasions as a lot from an ethical standpoint as from a practical, utilitarian, or maybe "Machiavellian" one. Polybius quite asks for "improvement" in his viewers, hoping that those that research his writings will emerge with a company decision to reside their lives nobly. instructing by way of ethical exemplars, Polybius additionally attempts to end up that luck isn't the sole regular through which human motion may be judged.

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On the misogyny of the historian's remarks here, see the detailed discussion in Chap. V. 35. The passage marked Polyb. 17-18 is partially drawn from Plut. Aem. 19, but there is no doubt that Polybius is Plutarch's source here (see Walbank, Commentary III: 389). The accuracy of Polybius's story of Perseus's panic has been doubted (see Walbank, ibid. 390). But even Perseus's defenders in antiquity admitted that he withdrew from the battlefield precipitously, and they were embarrassed by this (see Plut.

1 Two specific areas are of particular interest, for in both, Polybius's attitudeinsofar as it has been studied at allhas been taken to be not traditional but strictly pragmatic. First is Polybius's attitude toward commanding generals who actually fought in the battle line; second is his attitude toward those who commit suicide when confronted with total defeat. Yet in both areas it can be shown that Polybius in fact fully participated in the aristocratic ethos of physical combat, heroism, and glorious acceptance of death.

3; cf. 7-8, Plut. Phil. 20, and Paus. 7). He suggests that Philopoemen actually died of injuries sustained in the fighting, and that the execution story was developed by the Messenians in self-defense, in order to blacken Deinocrates and his friendswho allegedly pushed the execution through, upon an unwilling Messenian populace. But surely the story that Philopoemen died of his injuries would have been an even better Messenian defense, and especially if it were the truth; yet nowhere is there a hint of any tradition other than the execution.

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