Episode 9 – Polybius on the Trail of the Ancients

In this episode, we look at the life of historian Polybius, a mediocre explorer who nonetheless, by virtue of being in the right place at the right time, stood at a pivotal moment in the history of exploration, becoming responsible for uniting the exploratory traditions of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, putting both at the service of the expanding Roman state.


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One of the few authentic ancient surviving representations of Polybius: the stele of Kleitor. Unlike on the monument which supposedly survived in Megalopolis for some 3 centuries after his death, Polybius here is not represented as an explorer, but rather as a martial figure, highlighting his military background. He wears a sword belt, a sword, a hoplite’s shield, a crested helmet and, most prominently, holds a massive spear in his hand. Although the exact allusions of the stele of Kleitor are today uncertain, it clearly represented Polybius as a civic fighter.