The Histories by Greek historian and author Polybius

The Histories, by Greek historian Polybius, mainly documents the rise of the Roman Republic in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Image: An early edition of The Histories

Polybius’ “The Histories” provides a thorough account of the political and military events that took place throughout the Hellenistic Mediterranean region from 264 to 146 BC. Its later sections comprise first-hand descriptions of significant occurrences such as the destruction of Carthage and Corinth in 146 BC, and the incorporation of mainland Greece into the Roman Empire following the Achaean War. It explains the causes of Rome’s wars against the likes of Macedon, Carthage and the Seleucid Empire.

Polybius was a member of the Scipionic Circle, a group of Roman statesmen and intellectuals who were interested in Greek philosophy and culture. He was also a friends with people who knew Roman general Scipio Africanus, who played a key role in the defeat of Hannibal during the Second Punic War.

Although “The Histories” is comprised of 40 books, only the first five books have been fully preserved, while the remaining ones have been either fragmented or summarized. Despite this, the work is widely regarded as a masterpiece of ancient historiography and has had a significant impact on subsequent historians and scholars, such as Cicero, Livy and Tacitus.

The work also influenced the modern scholars like Niccolò Machiavelli, John Locke, Edmund Burke, and Montesquieu, as well as great number of the Founding Fathers of the United States, including John Adams.