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Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories$
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Craige Champion and William Joseph Sanders

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520237643

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520237643.001.0001

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Metabolē Politeiōn: Roman and Achaean Degeneration in the Fragmentary Books

Metabolē Politeiōn: Roman and Achaean Degeneration in the Fragmentary Books

(p.144) Chapter 5 Metabolē Politeiōn: Roman and Achaean Degeneration in the Fragmentary Books
Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories

Craige B. Champion

University of California Press

This chapter investigates Polybius's collective representations in the fragmentary text following book 6, the period in which Polybius considered Rome to have passed its zenith. The representation of moral degeneration and “barbarous” behavior serves almost as a leitmotiv for the extant chapters of books 7–15. In book 8, Polybius reiterates the high level of preparedness of both Rome and Carthage in the Hannibalic War. In book 16, he criticizes his contemporary, the Rhodian historian Zeno. Books 16–29 continue the general portrayal of degeneration in the Mediterranean world in the period following the battle at Zama and the establishment of Roman hegemony. The narrative pattern of an increasing degeneration at Rome and in the Achaean Confederation continues in books 30–39. The study of Polybius's historical narrative in part 2 yields important general points for the contextual interpretation that follows in part 3.

Keywords:   Polybius, fragmentary text, Rome, moral degeneration, barbarous behavior, Hannibalic War, Zama, Roman hegemony, Achaean Confederation

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