Polybius' concept of pragmatike historia : constitution decline and the struggle for the Peloponnese
This thesis will contend that Polybius' stress on Achaean unity was related to his need to contrast how tyche and anacyclosis, the two vital supernatural forces that he believed influenced historical events, had influenced the Achaean system of polity detrimentally. Examining the rationale behind Aetolian intervention in the Peloponnese during the Hellenistic period, it will contend that the Aetolians and their allies in Elis and Sparta were engaged in a struggle for control over the Peloponnese against the Macedonians and their Arcadian allies, a situation the Romans exploited. During the Second Macedonian War Polybius presents the Achaean league and Rome acting as equals; this was related to his desire to show the eventual decline in Greece that allowed the Romans to gain control. In reality Flamininus exploited Megalopolitan fears over Aetolian and Spartan interests to ensure the Peloponnese remained stable during the Aetolian/Syrian War. Afterwards Polybius took the question of the Spartan exiles, a relatively unimportant question, and presented its resolution as the decisive turning point in the relationship between Rome and the Achaean league, Callicrates' speech in front of the senate marking the onset of the final stage of anacyclosis in Achaean democracy. This process continued in his portrayal of later events; Polybius was detained by the Romans because of his sympathy for Perseus during the Third Macedonian War; however he blamed Callicrates because at this point he wished to present the corruption and decline that was occurring in the Achaean league. This process ended with the destruction of Corinth in 146BC, where Polybius emphasises the madness and irrationality of the Achaean mob and leadership. This was to provide his readers with the consolation that their society would emerge renewed and strengthened at a time that the Roman Republic began its eventual decline through the resumption of anacyclosis.