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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9645
Polybius, Histories, 3.48.8


ἐξ ὧν εἰκότως ἐμπίπτουσιν εἰς τὸ παραπλήσιον τοῖς τραγῳδιογράφοις. καὶ γὰρ ἐκείνοις πᾶσιν αἱ καταστροφαὶ τῶν δραμάτων προσδέονται θεοῦ καὶ μηχανῆς διὰ τὸ τὰς πρώτας ὑποθέσεις ψευδεῖς καὶ παραλόγους λαμβάνειν The natural consequence is that they get into the same difficulties as tragic dramatists all of whom, to bring their dramas to a close, require a deus ex machina, as the data they choose on which to found their plots are false and contrary to reasonable probability. <


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

4 results
1. Cicero, Letters To His Friends, 5.12.4 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Polybius, Histories, 2.16.14, 2.56, 3.47.6-3.47.9, 15.34 (2nd cent. BCE - 2nd cent. BCE)

2.16.14.  and all matter for tragedy and the like, may be left aside for the present, detailed treatment of such things not suiting very well the plan of this work. 2.56. 1.  Since, among those authors who were contemporaries of Aratus, Phylarchus, who on many points is at variance and in contradiction with him, is by some received as trustworthy,,2.  it will be useful or rather necessary for me, as I have chosen to rely on Aratus' narrative for the history of the Cleomenic war, not to leave the question of their relative credibility undiscussed, so that truth and falsehood in their writings may no longer be of equal authority.,3.  In general Phylarchus through his whole work makes many random and careless statements;,4.  but while perhaps it is not necessary for me at present to criticize in detail the rest of these, I must minutely examine such as relate to events occurring in the period with which I am now dealing, that of the Cleomenic war.,5.  This partial examination will however be quite sufficient to convey an idea of the general purpose and character of his work.,6.  Wishing, for instance, to insist on the cruelty of Antigonus and the Macedonians and also on that of Aratus and the Achaeans, he tells us that the Mantineans, when they surrendered, were exposed to terrible sufferings and that such were the misfortunes that overtook this, the most ancient and greatest city in Arcadia, as to impress deeply and move to tears all the Greeks.,7.  In his eagerness to arouse the pity and attention of his readers he treats us to a picture of clinging women with their hair dishevelled and their breasts bare, or again of crowds of both sexes together with their children and aged parents weeping and lamenting as they are led away to slavery.,8.  This sort of thing he keeps up throughout his history, always trying to bring horrors vividly before our eyes.,9.  Leaving aside the ignoble and womanish character of such a treatment of his subject, let us consider how far it is proper or serviceable to history.,10.  A historical author should not try to thrill his readers by such exaggerated pictures, nor should he, like a tragic poet, try to imagine the probable utterances of his characters or reckon up all the consequences probably incidental to the occurrences with which he deals, but simply record what really happened and what really was said, however commonplace.,11.  For the object of tragedy is not the same as that of history but quite the opposite. The tragic poet should thrill and charm his audience for the moment by the verisimilitude of the words he puts into his characters' mouths, but it is the task of the historian to instruct and convince for all time serious students by the truth of the facts and the speeches he narrates,,12.  since in the one case it is the probable that takes precedence, even if it be untrue, in the other it is the truth, the purpose being to confer benefit on learners.,13.  Apart from this, Phylarchus simply narrates most of such catastrophes and does not even suggest their causes or the nature of these causes, without which it is impossible in any case to feel either legitimate pity or proper anger.,14.  Who, for instance, does not think it an outrage for a free man to be beaten? but if this happen to one who was the first to resort to violence, we consider that he got only his desert, while where it is done for the purpose of correction or discipline, those who strike free men are not only excused but deemed worthy of thanks and praise.,15.  Again, to kill a citizen is considered the greatest of crimes and that deserving the highest penalty, but obviously he who kills a thief or adulterer is left untouched, and the slayer of a traitor or tyrant everywhere meets with honour and distinction.,16.  So in every such case the final criterion of good and evil lies not in what is done, but in the different reasons and different purposes of the doer. 3.47.6.  Some of the writers who have described this passage of the Alps, from the wish to impress their readers by the marvels they recount of these mountains, are betrayed into two vices ever most alien to true history; for they are compelled to make both false statements and statements which contradict each other. 3.47.7.  While on the one hand introducing Hannibal as a commander of unequalled courage and foresight, they incontestably represent him to us as entirely wanting in prudence 3.47.8.  and again, being unable to bring their series of falsehoods to any close or issue they introduce gods and the sons of gods into the sober history of the facts. 3.47.9.  By representing the Alps as being so steep and rugged that not only horses and troops accompanied by elephants, but even active men on foot would have difficult in passing, and at the same time picturing to us the desolation of the country as being such, that unless some god or hero had met Hannibal and showed him the way, his whole army would have gone astray and perished utterly, they unquestionably fall into both the above vices. 15.34. 1.  I am not unaware that some authors in describing these events have introduced the sensational element and worked up their material with the object of making the whole more striking to their readers, largely transgressing the bounds of what is essential to give coherence to their narrative.,2.  Some of them attribute all to Fortune, and lay stress on her instability and on men's incapacity of evading her, while others take count of the strangeness of all that happened, attempting to assign reasons or probable causes to everything.,3.  It was, however, not my own object to treat these matters in that manner, inasmuch as Agathocles displayed neither courage in war nor conspicuous ability,,4.  nor was he fortunate and exemplary in his management of affairs, nor, finally, had he that acuteness and mischievous address which serve a courtier's ends and which made Sosibius and several others so successful until the end of their lives in their management of king after king. On the contrary it was quite different with Agathocles.,5.  Owing to Philopator's incapacity as a ruler he attained an exceptionally high position;,6.  and in this position finding himself after that king's death most favourably circumstanced to maintain his power, he lost both his control and his life through his own cowardice and indolence, becoming an object of universal reprobation in quite a short time.
3. Livy, History, 21.21-21.22, 21.21.9, 21.22.7-21.22.9, 21.31 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

4. Plutarch, Themistocles, 32.4 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alps Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68, 69
aristotle Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
augustine, st, city of god Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 80
bathos (conquestio) Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
cicero Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68
duris of samos Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
ebro Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
emotions Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
enargeia Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
gades Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
hannibal Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68, 69
hercules Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
historiography, classical or pagan Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 80
jupiter Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
livy Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68, 69
melqart Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
onusa Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 69
pathos Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
phylarchus Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
poetry Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
polybius Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68, 69; Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
quintilian Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 80, 138
remus, and ancient historiography Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 80
tragedy Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
tragic history Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
verisimilitude' Van Nuffelen, Orosius and the Rhetoric of History (2012) 138
zama Baumann and Liotsakis, Reading History in the Roman Empire (2022) 68