A Historical Commentary on Polybius, Vol. 1: Commentary on by Frank W. Walbank

By Frank W. Walbank

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That τύχη here means simply 'the course of events' (so Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, ii (Munich, 1950), 194) is hard to reconcile with 4. 4. 2 when he adopted it; as Erkell observes,1 it covered all the gradations in sense between a sharply defined philosophical concept and a hazy, outworn cliché, and Polybius was not the man to find a lonely way across the morass. Consequently, to the question whether he believed in an objective power directing human affairs, the answer cannot be an unqualified 'No'; but in so far as it is a qualified 'Yes', his belief was neither sufficiently strong nor sufficiently clear for him to recognize any inconsistency with his normal, rational formulation of the character of Tyche.

Another field in which practice fell short of theory was in the speeches which, following Greek tradition, Polybius included at intervals throughout his Histories; some thirty-seven survive, and several times Polybius makes it clear that such speeches should represent the actual words of the speaker. It was the custom of Hellenistic historians to set rhetorical compositions in the mouths of their characters, and Polybius condemns this wholeheartedly in Timaeus. 'A writer who passes over in silence the speeches made and the reason (sc.

By a pure coincidence an abnormally large number of troops happened to be present at Rome and could be led out against the enemy. Rhodian feeling against Philip was exacerbated by the action of Tyche (xv. 23. 1); for at the moment when his representative was expatiating on his magnanimity, a messenger arrived with news of the enslavement of the Cians. manifest itself in the simultaneous occurrence of similar events within separate and independent fields. The fact that the Romans defeated the Boii at Lake Vadimo only five years before the destruction of the Gauls at Delphi1 suggests that 'Tyche, as it were, afflicted all Gauls alike with a sort of epidemic of war'; and Polybius chose the date at which he begins his main narrative2 διὰ τὸ καὶ τὴν τύχην ὡς ἂν εἰ κεκαινοποιηκέναι πάντα τὰ κατὰ τὴν οἰκουµένην, for by a series of coincidences new figures were then active in almost every part of the world.

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