The stele of Kleitor depicting Greek historian Polybius

Greek historian and author Polybius

Polybius of Megalopolis (c.200-c.118): Greek historian and the author of the critically acclaimed work “The Histories”, which describes the rise of Rome. Image: The stele of Kleitor depicting Polybius, Hellenistic art, 2nd century BC, Museum of Roman Civilization

The Kleitor stele is a Hellenistic artwork dating back to the 2nd century BC that portrays the Greek historian and statesman Polybius. The stele is currently on display at the Museum of Roman Civilization (Museo Mazionale della Civiltà Romana) in Rome, Italy.

Dimensions of the stele:

  • Height of stele: 2.18 m (7.2 ft)
  • Height of carved figure of Polybius: 1.96 m (6.4 ft)
  • Width of stele: 1.11 m (3.6 ft)

Who was Polybius?

Polybius was a Greek historian and statesman born in Arcadia around 200 BC. He was an eyewitness to many of the historical events he wrote about, including the Roman conquest of Greece and the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. The historian believed that history should be based on eyewitness accounts and factual evidence, and he is known for his rigorous approach to historical research and analysis.

Polybius’ most famous work is The Histories, a detailed account of political and military events in the Hellenistic world from 264 to 146 BC. The work covers the rise of the Roman Republic, the Punic Wars, and many other important historical events and personalities of the time, including Philip II of Macedon, the conquests of Alexander the Great, Scipio Aemilianus, Perseus of Macedon, and Philip V of Macedon.

His analysis of the Roman constitution is a central theme in The Histories, and he praised Rome’s system of checks and balances and mixed government as a way of promoting stability and preventing tyranny. He also claimed that Rome’s constitution was the reason why the Romans came to dominate the Mediterranean.