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Extra resources for A Historical Commentary on Polybius, Vol. 1: Commentary on Books 1-6

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5 In general, only absolute truth is to be tolerated in history;6 and the problem of securing it Polybius sees partly as one of scale. As the writer of a 'universal history'7 he is critical of those who work on a smaller canvas. 9 On the other hand, the very magnitude of his task perhaps renders the universal historian more liable to the occasional factual slip or misstatement; if this should unfortunately happen, it is excusable,10 and such errors should be treated, not with the bitterness and virulence displayed by Timaeus in his attacks on Ephorus, Theopompus, and Aristotle,11 but with the kind of charitable good nature which led Polybius himself to write to Zeno pointing out his errors χάριν τῆς κοινῆς ὠφελείας12— unfortunately after the book was already published and so too late for Zeno to correct them.

17 It is the mark of a great man to have learnt this lesson;18 both Scipio19 and Hannibal20 came up to this test, whereas Philip V,21 and the Spartans after the Peloponnesian War,22 failed. [19] 1 ii. 4. 3. Tyche likes to dash reasonable expectations by lifting a man up and then suddenly (παρὰ πόδας) casting him down (xxix. 22. 1–2). 2 xxxvi. 13. 2. 3 xxix. 21. 4 Cf. xxiii. 12. 4–7 (on Philopoemen's death): ἀλλά µοι δοκεῖ κατὰ τὴν κοινὴν παροιµίαν εὐτυχῆσαι µὲν ἄνθρωπον ὄντα δυνατόν, διευτυχῆσαί γε µὴν ἀδύνατον; ii.

Xxxiv. 4, if indeed this passage of Strabo is from Polybius. 2 remains is an idle tale, ἀνωφελὲς . . 5 In general, only absolute truth is to be tolerated in history;6 and the problem of securing it Polybius sees partly as one of scale. As the writer of a 'universal history'7 he is critical of those who work on a smaller canvas. 9 On the other hand, the very magnitude of his task perhaps renders the universal historian more liable to the occasional factual slip or misstatement; if this should unfortunately happen, it is excusable,10 and such errors should be treated, not with the bitterness and virulence displayed by Timaeus in his attacks on Ephorus, Theopompus, and Aristotle,11 but with the kind of charitable good nature which led Polybius himself to write to Zeno pointing out his errors χάριν τῆς κοινῆς ὠφελείας12— unfortunately after the book was already published and so too late for Zeno to correct them.

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