Introduced by Michael Scott
One of the most influential classical histories, enhanced with magnificent full-page coin portraits. Introduced by Michael Scott.
The most complete history of one of the world’s great empires, The Rise of Rome has influenced thinkers from Machiavelli to the Founding Fathers of the United States. It comprises five surviving books and two partial volumes from Polybius’ Histories, an ambitious, and originally vast work that explained how Rome conquered all the known regions of the civilised world. A leading politician, Polybius was born in Arcadia, Greece, in 200 BC and died around 117 BC. As the historian and broadcaster Michael Scott says in his new preface, this made him ‘an eyewitness to one of the greatest power shifts in Mediterranean history’.
Translated by Robin Waterfield.
Three-quarter bound in buckram with a Modigliani paper side printed with eagle (detail) from a marble statue of Emperor Claudius as Jupiter, Rome, 41-54 AD.
Set in Albertina with Garamond Titling display.
Frontispiece and 32 pages of colour plates.
Book size: 10" × 6¼".
Unlike that of other Roman historians, Polybius’ work was firmly anchored in his own lifetime. In fact, his first books were written so soon after the events they described, that – widely read by Greek and Romans alike – they may even have influenced the course of Rome’s ascension. Deported to Rome from his homeland after the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC, Polybius belonged to the vanquished. He adapted by forming friendships with powerful Romans, such as the general Scipio Aemilianus, alongside whom he witnessed the destruction of Carthage. Remarkably, he was also a trusted advisor to the Greeks as they reconstructed his homeland.
‘A crucial window into the mindset of a world which is indelibly interlaced into the fabric of our modern global society’
The Rise of Rome opens with a summary of the First Punic War (264–244 BC), the 20-year battle between Rome and Carthage that marked the beginning of Rome’s evolution from Republic to Empire and concluded with a subdued Carthage signing a peace treaty. The narrative begins in earnest in 220 BC, with the second clash between the two powers underway – the Carthaginians led by the tenacious Hannibal. The Romans gained control of the Western Mediterranean and moved east to conquer Greece. Polybius concludes with the destruction of Corinth in 146 BC, the year in which Carthage was finally obliterated. Mixing biography, ethnography, geography, historical narrative, and political and military analysis, The Rise of Rome is a fascinating meditation on how to govern and how to learn from history. This edition includes photographs, specially commissioned from the British Museum, of coins bearing portraits of prominent figures, such as Philip V of Macedon, and Marcus Claudius Marcellus, consul of the Roman Republic and military leader during the Second Punic War.
Polybius (c.200–c.118 bc), son of Lycortas of Megalopolis, hipparch of the Achaean Confederacy in the 180s, was a statesman, soldier, explorer and historian. He served as a politician in the Confederacy until the Roman victory over Macedon in 168, after which he was exiled to Rome for seventeen years. He became part of the Scipionic Circle and travelled to Spain and Africa, returning to Italy in Hannibal’s footsteps over the Alps. He was present at the destruction of Carthage in 146 and travelled extensively around the Mediterranean. He allegedly died, aged 82, following a fall from a horse. His early works are no longer extant but, of the forty books on Rome’s rise and rule in 220–146 bc, his Histories, five survive in full and there are extensive excerpts from many others including Books Six and Twelve.
Robin Waterfield is a classical scholar and freelance translator, writer and editor. His translations have included Plato’s Republic and several editions of his dialogues; Xenophon, Conversations of Socrates (includes Apology, Memorabilia, Symposium and Oeconomicus), The Expedition of Cyrus, and Hiero the Tyrant and Other Treatises; Plutarch, Greek Lives and Roman Lives; Aristotle, Physics; Euripides, Heracles and Other Plays; Epicurus, Letter on Happiness.
Brian McGing is Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College Dublin. He is primarily a Greek papyrologist and historian of the Hellenistic period with research that includes Appian of Alexandria, the Hellenistic kingdoms of Asia Minor, Greek papyrology, and the history of Egypt after Alexander the Great. His publications include The Limits of Ancient Biography (ed., with Judith Mossman), Greek Papyri from Dublin and The Foreign Policy of Mithridates VI Eupator King of Pontus.
Michael Scott is an ancient historian, writer and broadcaster. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick, and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge. Television work has included programmes for the BBC and the National Geographic Channel, and his books include From Democrats to Kings (Icon Books, 2009) and Delphi and Olympia (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
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Review by anon on 11th Jun 2015
"Incredible book, this is my first folio society book and it surely won't be the last, I'm still impressed by the level of perfection of almost everything about the book itself, it's definitely worthy."