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Imperialism, Cultural Politics, and Polybius$
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Christopher Smith and Liv Mariah Yarrow

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199600755

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600755.001.0001

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Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature

Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature

Chapter:
(p.68) 4 Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature
Source:
Imperialism, Cultural Politics, and Polybius
Author(s):

Georgina Longley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600755.003.0005

This chapter discusses the importance of human nature in Polybius' views on historical causation. Scholars such as Walbank have argued persuasively for Thucydides being an importance predecessor of Polybius, but a comparison of their views on causation has yet to be undertaken. It argues that the connection between the fifth-century bc historian Thucydides and Polybius, writing in the second century bc, extends to the prominent place both assign human beings and human nature in their explanation of historical events. How human nature emerges in these authors, how they envisage its functioning within the historical process, and how both authors make clear its centrality to their work are key aims of the chapter. It aims to show that Polybius expanded upon Thucydides' conception of human nature and developed a sophisticated view of human nature's complexities and how this affected historical explanation.

Keywords:   Polybius, Thucydides, historiography, Tyche

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