We live in an era when journalism is truly dead. Nobody is interested in causes or patterns or the truth. Nobody is interested in investigating or consulting sources. Lots of new stories are done based only on tweets or hearsay or rumors. Nobody has the time to check or...
We live in an era when journalism is truly dead. Nobody is interested in causes or patterns or the truth. Nobody is interested in investigating or consulting sources. Lots of new stories are done based only on tweets or hearsay or rumors. Nobody has the time to check or verify anything. It''s just constantly flowing information, with no differentiation between lies and facts. And the internet is infinite so there''s no reason to condense or weed out the trivial. EVERYTHING is important.
We also live in an era where America and its ideals are waning and running out of energy. Its decadence and decay are apparent everywhere you look. The American flag is seen as a symbol of freedom no longer but of facism. People are shamed or even ATTACKED for showing pride in their country. I''m just glad I''m old enough that I won''t have to see its true end. Only the beginnings of that end.
To me, the author of this book, Polybius (c.200-118BC) was what journalists USED to be like in America. He was very interested in getting the facts right. He tried to be as objective as he could be without letting his personal prejudices influence what he was writing about. He wanted to educate people about the world. He thought he was doing something important. He visited the places he wrote about instead of sitting in his office surfing the net. He was involved in the wars and politics of his day. He interviewed and knew people involved in the historical events he was depicting. Everything he was doing 2000 years ago is what the media should be doing now.
The main theme of The Rise of the Roman Empire was for Polybius to tell the world how Rome, an undistinguished city at the time, came to conquer what was then the known world. How it became the superpower of its time. He also wanted to document events to educate generations in hopes that they would find wisdom and inspiration to do the right thing at the right time through noting the actions of the leaders of Rome and Carthage.
Rome''s rise is depicted mainly through the prism of the Punic Wars, a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage and their allies. The book begins with the origins of the first war and ends with the destruction of Carthage in the third. Along the way Polybius also informs us what was going on simultaneously in other parts of the Mediterranean, such as Egypt and Greece. Polybius strays from the Punic Wars because he saw this era as a time when the Mediterranean was an organic whole with each part having influence on each other through war and trade.
What I loved about this book is that Polybius was alive during parts of the history and was personally involved in the Punic Wars because he was really good friends with Scipio, one of the greatest Roman generals of all time. He was given access to people, sources, and lands to do his research.
I think Polybius''s original work was about 40 volumes. This is merely a selection of the existing books. A complaint I have is what the editors or translator chose to include in The Rise of the Roman Empire. Scott-Kilvert does a really good job with the 1st and 2nd Punic Wars, but there is only about ONE PAGE covering the 3rd. I have no clue as to what happened to make the Romans totally destroy Carthage or even who was involved or what led up to it. But yet the translator wastes a lot of pages including events in Greece, Egypt, and even a long section about Polybius evening scores with a fellow history writer. I''m going to have to read another work or book to find out what went on in the Third Punic War. Very unfortunate choice of what to include and not include in this book.
Something else I liked about Polybius is that he knew he was writing about Rome in its prime. He believed that all governments descend into destruction on a long enough timeline. He was aware that he was living in Rome''s Golden Age, before the decadence and insanity of it becoming an empire. Scipio was the opposite of Ceasar. He was not in the Punic Wars to crown himself king or emperor. He was serving Rome and always remembered it was a privelage to serve his city. He could very easily have seized power and done whatever he wanted. But at the conclusion of the wars, he quietly retired. Carthage too was in its prime. Everything and everyone needs a competitor to bring out the best in each other. So it was very interesting to see these two powers playing chess games through war and diplomacy.
To me, Polybius acheived his goals. I understood how Rome became the superpower of its time. And I also gained a lot of wisdom and insights into my OWN time and place. I think after World War 2 we were like Rome at the conclusion of the Punic Wars. The world was its oyster for a time. But as soon as we didn''t have a true toe to toe enemy with the collapse of Russia, the spiritual and material decay began to set in. Maybe China is our rival now but we owe them so much money and are so economically dependent on their manufacturing, we are more their slave than anything else.