La humanidad no posee regla mejor de conducta
que el conocimiento del pasado1


Polibio, ( gr. ) Megalopolis, Peloponeso, Grecia.
Nacimiento +/- 200 aC. - †118 aC.

Miembro de las clases gobernantes conoció en propia piel los acontecimientos tanto políticos como militares de su época de tal manera que le convierten en uno de los historiadores más prestigiosos de la antigüedad. Dedicó la mayor parte de su carrera política a conservar la independencia de la Liga Aquea2. Se convierte en principal sospechoso al representar la política de neutralidad en la guerra entre Roma y Perseo de Macedonia y los romanos no dudan en detenerle y sumarlo a los cerca de 1.000 nobles aqueos transportados en el 166 aC. a Roma como rehenes. Estuvo retenido en condiciones privilegiadas durante diecisiete años.

No en vano su testimonio escrito preside el trono que la historia reserva a obras supervivientes a épocas oscuras, ataques, quemas y censura; y forma parte por ello de la lista humanitas de remedios desinhibidores 3 en el camino del conocimiento y aprendizaje constante para el que están capacitados la mayoría de la especie humana.

Su elevado nivel cultural le facilita el contacto con las más distinguidas casas de Roma como la casa de Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, vencedor de la Primera Guerra Macedónica, quien le encargó la educación de sus hijos: Fabio y Escipión. Mediante la intercesión de Escipión en el 150 adC, Polibio obtuvo el permiso para regresar a su hogar, pero en lugar de ello, pasó los siguientes años en compañía de su amigo en África, donde pudo estar presente en la Tercera Guerra Púnica y en la captura de Cartago, hecho que describió en su crónica histórica.

Su estancia en la península Ibérica le sirvió para estudiar la geografía, los pueblos y las costumbres de Hispania. Tras la destrucción de Corinto (146 adC.), y gracias a su popularidad en Roma, se le encomendó establecer las bases de la futura provincia de Acaya. Polibio volvió a Grecia y utilizó sus conexiones con los romanos para impulsar allí una mejora de las condiciones de vida. Polibio encaró la difícil tarea de organizar la nueva forma de gobierno de las ciudades griegas, ganando en esta labor el mayor de los reconocimientos.

Tras finalizar este trabajo, regresó a Roma. Los años siguientes significaron un gran impulso a su obra escrita, imbuido como estuvo en su trabajo histórico, y emprendiendo ocasionalmente largos viajes por los paises mediterráneos para obtener conocimientos de primera mano sobre lugares históricos. Al parecer, solía también entrevistar a los veteranos de las guerras de Roma para aclarar detalles de los hechos que describía, y consiguió acceso a los archivos para este mismo propósito.

Tras la muerte de su amigo Escipión, regresó de nuevo a Grecia, donde murió a la edad de ochenta y dos años al caer de su caballo.

 

Producción literaria

Se conserva la mayor parte de su obra, escrita con un método riguroso que se basa en una estricta documentación y en su presencia en el lugar de los hechos que describe. Su extensa Historia general contaba con 40 volúmenes. Otras obras citables son Tratado de táctica y La guerra de Numancia. Además, con Tucídides, fue uno de los primeros historiadores en excluir la acción divina entre las causas materiales y sus consecuencias.

Compuso sistemáticamente su obra para que sea siempre acorde en su relación con la historia general del mundo, y a la vez, pragmática, en su continua demostración de los principios de la causa y el efecto.

La característica principal de su pensamiento fue el cuidado y la veracidad que otorgaba a sus conclusiones. Tenía un instinto natural en encontrar la verdad: “La verdad, decía Polibio, es expuesta por la naturaleza a los hombres como algo supremo en divinidad y poder, tarde o temprano, la verdad prevalecería sobre cualquier oposición”.

In fieri

Bibliografía

Polibio (1983/1997), Historias, Madrid: Editorial Gredos.
Libros XVI-XXXIX.
Comprar este libro en CasadelLibro.com

 

Bibliografía relacionada

Polibio (2005), Polibio y la Península Ibérica, Edición Juan Santos Yanguas, Elena Torregaray Pagola. Bilbao: Universidad del País Vasco. Servicio Editorial. ISBN 9788483737569.

(...)

NOTAS

1- Cfr. Escohotado, Los enemigos del comercio, 2007.
http://www.escohotado.com/losenemigosdelcomercio.asp

2- La Liga Aquea fue la confederación de ciudades del Norte del Peloponeso junto a la Liga Etolia de la zona central. La Liga Aquea libró una batalla constante contra Esparta, que recuperaba su antiguo vigor y disputaba a la Liga Aquea el dominio de la Grecia Meridional. La Liga Aquea luchó contra Esparta y se alió al enemigo común, Macedonia que aplastó a Esparta en una batalla poco antes de la subida al trono de Filipo no sin antes haber sometido el antiguo poder de la Liga Aquea a la dominación macedónica.

3- Cfr. Sloterdijk, pág. 35, Normas para el parque humano. Una respuesta a la Carta sobre el humanismo de Heidegger.
Ediciones Siruela, S.A. ISBN: 8478445358.
Comprar este libro en CasadelLibro.com



TEXTOS DE CONSULTA

TEXTO 1

Polybius (born ca. 208 BC) of Megalopolis in the Peloponnese (Morea), served the Achaean League in arms and diplomacy for many years, favouring alliance with Rome. From 168 to 151 he was hostage in Rome where he became a friend of Aemilius Paulus and his two sons, and especially adopted Scipio Aemilianus whose campaigns he attended later. In late life he was trusted mediator between Greece and the Romans whom he admired; helped in the discussions which preceded the final war with Carthage; and, after 146, was entrusted by the Romans with details of administration in Greece. He died at the age of 82 after a fall from his horse.

The main part of Polybius' history covers the years 264–146 BC. It describes the rise of Rome to the destruction of Carthage and the domination of Greece by Rome. It is a great work, accurate, thoughtful, largely impartial, based on research, full of insight into customs, institutions, geography, causes of events and character of people; it is a vital achievement of first rate importance, despite the incomplete state in which all but the first five of the forty books have reached us. Polybius' overall theme is how and why the Romans spread their power as they did.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Polybius is in six volumes.


TEXTO 2
http://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/Siege/Polybius.html

BOOK VIII

(...)

3. After Epicydes and Hippocrates had seized power in Syracuse, they managed to transfer the friendship and allegiance which their compatriots had previously cherished for Rome to the side of Carthage. Meanwhile, the Romans, who had already been informed of the fate which had befallen Hieronymous, the tyrant of Syracuse, appointed Appius Claudius Pulcher as pro-praetor to command the land forces, and Marcus Claudius Marcellus to take charge of the fleet. These officers then took up a position not far from the city and decided to assault it with their land forces at the quarter known as the Hexapyli; the fleet was to attack at the so-called portico of Scytice in Achradina, where the city wall extends to the quay-side. The Romans' wicker screens, missiles and other siege apparatus had been made ready beforehand, and they felt confident that with the number of men at their disposal they could within five days bring their preparations to a point which would give them the advantage over the enemy. But here they failed to reckon with the talents of Archimedes or to foresee that in some cases the genius of one man is far more effective than superiority in numbers. this lesson they now learned by experience.

The strength of the defences of Syracuse is due to the fact that the city wall extends in a circle along high ground with steeply overhanging crags, which are by no means easy to climb, except at certain definite points, even if the approach is uncontested. Accordingly Archimedes had constructed the defences of the city in such a way--both on the landward side and to repel any attack from the sea--that there was no need for the defenders to busy themselves with improvisations; instead they would have everything ready to hand, and could respond to any attack by the enemy with a counter-move. For his part Appius Claudius Pulcher, who was equipped with penthouses and scaling-ladders, brought these into operation to attack the part of the wall which adjoins the Hexapyli gate to the east.

4. Meanwhile Marcellus was attacking the quarter of Arcradina from the sea with sixty quinqueremes, each vessel being filled with archers, slingers and javelin-throwers, whose task was to drive the defenders from the battlements. Besides these vessels he had eight quinqueremes grouped in pairs. Each pair had had half of their oars removed, the starboard bank for the one and the port for the other, and on these sides the vessels were lashed together. They were then rowed by the remaining oars of their outer sides, and brought up to the walls the siege engines known as sambucae. These are constructed as follows. A ladder is made, four feet in width and high enough to reach the top of the wall from the place where its feet are to rest. Each side is fenced in with a high protective breastwork, and the machine is also shielded by a wicker covering high overhead. It is then laid flat over the two sides of the ships where are lashed together, the top protruding a considerable distance beyond the bows. To the tops of the ships' masts are fixed pulleys with ropes, and when the sambuca is about to be used, the ropes are attached to the top of the ladder, and men standing in the stern haul up the machine by means of the pulleys, while others stand in the bows to support it with long poles and make sure that it is safely raised. After this the oarsmen on the two outer sides of the ships row the vessels close inshore, and the crews then attempt to prop the sambuca against the wall. At the top of the ladder there is a wooden platform which is protected on three sides by wicker screens; four men are stationed on this to engage the defenders, who in the meanwhile are struggling to prevent the sambuca from being lodged against the battlements. As soon as the attackers have got it into position, and are thus standing on a higher level that the wall, they pull down the wicker screens on each side of the platform and rush out on to the battlements or towers. Their comrades climb up the sambuca after them, the ladder being held firm by ropes which are attached to both ships. This device is aptly named, because when it is raised the combination of the ship and the ladder looks remarkably like the musical instrument in question.

5. This was the siege equipment with which the Romans planned to assault the city's towers. But Archimedes had constructed artillery which could cover a whole variety of ranges, so that while the attacking ships were still at a distance he scored so many hits with his catapults and stone-throwers that he was able to cause them severe damage and harass their approach. Then, as the distance decreased and these weapons began to carry over the enemy's heads, he resorted to smaller and smaller machines, and so demoralized the Romans that their advance was brought to a standstill. In the end Marcellus was reduced in despair to bringing up his ships secretly under cover of darkness. But when they had almost reached the shore, and were therefore too close to be struck by the catapults, Archimedes had devised yet another weapon to repel the marines, who were fighting from the decks. He had had the walls pierced with large numbers of loopholes at the height of a man, which were about a palm's breadth wide at the outer surface of the walls. Behind each of these and inside the walls were stationed archers with rows of so-called 'scorpions', a small catapult which discharged iron darts, and by shooting through these embrasures they put many of the marines out of action. Through these tactics he not only foiled all the enemy's attacks, both those made at long range and any attempt at hand-to-hand fighting, but also caused them heavy losses.

Then, whenever the enemy tried to work their sambucae, he had other engines ready all along the walls. At normal times these were kept out of sight, but as soon as they were needed they were hoisted above the walls, with their beams projecting far over the battlements, some of them carrying stones weighing as much as ten talents, and others large lumps of lead. As soon as the sambucae approached, these beams were swung round on a universal joint and by means of a release mechanism or trigger dropped the weight on the sambuca; the effect was not only to smash the ladder but to endanger the safety of the ships and of their crews.

6. Other machines invented by Archimedes were directed against the assault parties as they advanced under the shelter of screens which protected them against the missiles shot through the walls. Against these attackers the machines could discharge stones heavy enough to drive back the marines from the bows of the ships; at the same time a grappling-iron attached to a chain would be let down, and with this the man controlling the beam would clutch at the ship. As soon as the prow was securely gripped, the lever of the machine inside the wall would be pressed down. When the operator had lifted up the ship's prow in this way and made her stand on her stern, he made fast the lower parts of the machine, so that they would not move, and finally by means of a rope and pulley suddenly slackened the grappling-iron and the chain. The result was that some of the vessels heeled over and fell on the sides, and others capsized, while the majority when their bows were let fall from a height plunged under water and filled, and thus threw all into confusion. Marcellus' operations were thus completely frustrated by these inventions of Archimedes, and when he saw that the garrison not only repulsed his attacks with heavy losses but also laughed at his efforts, he took his defeat hard. At the same time he could not refrain from making a joke against himself when he said: 'Archimedes uses my ships to ladle sea-water into his wine-cups, but my sambuca band have been whipped out of the wine-party as intruders!' So ended the efforts to capture Syracuse from the sea.

7. At the same time Appius Claudius Pulcher found himself faced with similar difficulties when he attacked by land, and finally he abandoned the attempt. While his troops were still at a distance from the walls they suffered many casualties from the mangonels and catapults. This artillery was extraordinarily effective both in the volume of its fire, as was to be expected when Hiero had provided the supplies, and Archimedes designed the various engines. Then, even when the soldiers did get close to the wall, they were so harassed by the volleys of arrows and darts which continually poured through the embrasures, as I described above, that their advance was effectually halted. Alternatively, if they attacked under cover of their penthouses, they were crushed by the stones and beams that were dropped on their heads. The defenders also killed many men by means of the iron grappling-hooks let down from cranes, which I mentioned earlier: these were used to lift up men, armour and all, and then allow them to drop. In the end Pulcher withdrew to his camp and summoned a council of the military tribunes, at which it was unanimously decided to use any other methods rather than persist in the attempt to capture Syracuse by storm. And this resolution was never reversed, for during the eight months' siege of the city which followed, although they left no stratagem or daring attempt untried, they never again ventured to mount a general assault. So true it is that the genius of one man can become an immense, almost a miraculous asset, if it is properly applied to certain problems. In this instance, at any rate, the Romans, having brought up such numerous forces both by sea and by land, had every hope of capturing the city immediately, if only one old man out of all the Syracusans could have been removed; but so long as he was present they did not dare even to attempt an attack by any method which made it possible for Archimedes to oppose them. Instead they concluded that in view of the large population of the town, the best way to reduce it was by starvation; they therefore cut off supplies from the sea by means of the fleet, and by land by means of the army, and rested their hopes on this solution. But as they were anxious to achieve some useful results outside, and not waste all the time during which they would be blockading Syracuse, the two commanders separated and divided their forces. Pulcher took command of two-thirds and invested the city, while Marcellus with the remaining third made raids on those parts of Sicily which were supporting the Carthaginians.


TEXTO 3
it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polibio

Polibio (ca 203 a.C. - 120 a.C.), fu lo storico greco del mondo mediterraneo. Studiò in modo particolare il sorgere della potenza della Repubblica Romana che attribuì all'onestà dei romani ed all'eccellenza delle loro istituzioni civiche e militari. È estremamente importante per il suo resoconto della Seconda guerra punica e della Terza guerra punica fra Roma e Cartagine, le Storie.


TEXTO 4

(...). Está situada hacia el punto medio del litoral español, en un golfo orientado hacia el Sudoeste. La profundidad del golfo es de unos veinte estadios y la distancia entre ambos extremos es de diez; el golfo, pues, es muy semejante a un puerto. En la boca del golfo hay una isla que estrecha enormemente el paso de penetración hacia dentro, por sus dos flancos. ... En el fondo del golfo hay un tómbolo, encima del cual está la ciudad, rodeada de mar por el Este y por el Sur, aislada por el lago al Oeste y en parte por el Norte, de modo que el brazo de tierra que alcanza al otro lado del mar, que es el que enlaza la ciudad con la tierra firme, no alcanza una anchura mayor que dos estadios. El casco de la ciudad es cóncavo; en su parte meridional presenta un acceso más plano desde el mar. Unas colinas ocupan el terreno restante, dos de ellas muy montuosas y escarpadas, y tres no tan elevadas, pero abruptas y difíciles de escalar. La colina más alta está al Este de la ciudad y se precipita en el mar; en su cima se levanta un templo a Asclepio. Hay otra colina frente a ésta, de disposición similar, en la cual se edificaron magníficos palacios reales, construidos, según se dice, por Asdrúbal, quien aspiraba a un poder monárquico. Las otras elevaciones del terreno, simplemente unos altozanos, rodean la parte septentrional de la ciudad. De estos tres, el orientado hacia el Este se llama el de Hefesto, el que viene a continuación, el de Altes, personaje que, al parecer, obtuvo honores divinos por haber descubierto unas minas de plata; el tercero de los altozanos lleva el nombre de Cronos. Se ha abierto un cauce artificial entre el estanque y las aguas más próximas, para facilitar el trabajo a los que se ocupan en cosas de la mar. Por encima de este canal que corta el brazo de tierra que separa el lago y el mar se ha tendido un puente para que carros y acémilas puedan pasar por aquí, desde el interior del país, los suministros necesarios.

Polibio, Historias 10, 10.
Edición de Manuel Balasch, Ed. Gredos, Madrid, 1981, pp. 361-363.


TEXTO 5

... Aníbal ... nadie de allá del Ebro se atrevió fácilmente a afrontarle, a excepción de Sagunto. Pero Aníbal, de momento, no atacaba en absoluto a la ciudad, porque no quería ofrecer ningún pretexto claro de guerra a los romanos hasta haberse asegurado el resto del país; en ello seguía sugerencias y consejos de su padre, Amílcar.
Los saguntinos despachaban mensajeros a Roma continuamente, porque preveían el futuro y temían por ellos mismos; querían, al propio tiempo, que los romanos no ignorasen los éxitos cartagineses en España. Hasta entonces los romanos no les habían hecho el menor caso, pero en aquella ocasión enviaron una misión que investigara lo ocurrido. Era el tiempo en que Aníbal ya había sometido a los que quería y se había establecido con sus tropas de nuevo en Cartagena, para pasar el invierno. Esta ciudad era algo así como el ornato y la capital de los cartagineses en las regiones de España. Allí se encontró con la embajada romana, la recibió en audiencia y escuchó lo que decían acerca de la situación. Los romanos, poniendo por testigos a los dioses, le exigieron que se mantuviera alejado de los saguntinos (pues estaban bajo su protección) y no cruzara el río Ebro, según el pacto establecido con Asdrúbal. (....) Pero al mismo tiempo, Aníbal envió correos a Cartago para saber qué debía hacer, puesto que los saguntinos, fiados en su alianza con los romanos, dañaban a algunos pueblos de los sometidos a los cartagineses. Aníbal, en resumen, estaba poseído de irreflexión y de coraje violento. Por eso no se servía de las causas verdaderas y se escapaba hacia pretextos absurdos. Es lo que suelen hacer quienes por estar aferrados a sus pasiones desprecian el deber. ¡Cuánto más le hubiera valido creer que los romanos debían devolverles Cerdeña y restituirles el importe de los tributos que, aprovechándose de las circunstancias, les habían impuesto y cobrado anteriormente, y afirmar que si no accedían, ello significaría la guerra! Pero ahora, al silenciar la causa verdadera y fingir una inexistente sobre los saguntinos, dio la impresión de empezar la guerra no sólo de un modo irracional, sino aun injusto. Los embajadores romanos, al comprobar que la guerra era inevitable, zarparon hacia Cartago, pues querían renovar allí sus advertencias. Evidentemente, estaban seguros de que la guerra no se desarrollaría en Italia, sino en España, y de que utilizarían como base para esta guerra la ciudad de Sagunto.

Polibio, Historias 3, 14, 9 a 3, 15, 13. Edición de Manuel Balasch en Ed. Gredos, Madrid, 1981, fragmentos de las pp. 288-289.

 



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