The Histories of Polybius provides a didactic account of the ascendancy of Rome from 264 B.C. to 146 B.C. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh’s The Histories of Polybius mark the first time this account was published in English. The Histories of Polybius: Volume I includes Books I – XI, while The Histories of Polybius: Volume II is made up of Books X – XL. Although comprised of 40 books in total, only the first five are intact; the remaining books consist of surviving excerpts and fragments.
The focus of Polybius’ writing narrates events from 220 B.C., Hannibal’s Spanish campaign, to 168 B.C., the Battle of Pydna, but it also instructs present and future politicians and historians with the historiographical themes prevalent throughout the work. Polybius presents a detailed, thorough narration of contemporary characters and events because history was meant to be studied and analyzed in order to benefit the present and the future.
“It is this which forces us to consider that the knowledge gained from the study of true history is the best of all educations for practical life. For it is history, and history alone, which, without involving us in actual danger, will mature our judgment and prepare us to take right views, whatever may be the crisis or the posture of affairs.”