Ancient writers about Macedonia – Polybius



  • “Let it, however, be granted that what I have now said may in the eyes of severe critics be regarded as beside the subject. I will now return to the main point at issue, as they state it. It was this: ‘If the circumstances are the same now as at the time when you made alliance with the Aetolians, then your policy ought to remain on the same lines.’ That was their first proposition. ‘But if they have been entirely changed, then it is fair that you should now deliberate on the demands made to you as on a matter entirely new and unprejudiced.’ I ask you therefore, Cleonicus and Chlaeneas, who were your allies on the former occasion when you invited this people to join you? Were they not all the Greeks? But with whom are you now united, or to what kind of federation are you now inviting this people? Is it not to one with the foreigner? A mighty similarity exists, no doubt, in your minds, and no diversity at all! Then you were contending for glory and supremacy with Achaeans and Macedonians, men of kindred blood with yourselves, and with Philip their leader; now a war of slavery is threatening Greece against men of another race, whom you think to bring against Philip, but have really unconsciously brought against yourselves and all Greece. For just as men in the stress of war, by introducing into their cities garrisons superior in strength to their own forces, while successfully repelling all danger from the enemy, put themselves at the mercy of their friends,–just so are the Aetolians acting in the present case. For in their desire to conquer Philip and humble Macedonia, they have unconsciously brought such a mighty cloud from the west, as for the present perhaps will overshadow Macedonia first, but which in the sequel will be the origin of heavy evils to all Greece.

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.37.6-8

  • “But if thanks are due to the Aetolians for this single service, how highly should we honour the Macedonians, who for the greater part of their lives never cease from fighting with the barbarians for the sake of the security of Greece? For who is not aware that Greece would have constantly stood in the greatest danger, had we not been fenced by the Macedonians and the honourable ambition of their kings?”

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.35.2

  • “…I assert is that not only the Thessalians, but the rest of the Greeks owed their safety to Philip.”

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.33.3

  • “…because he (Philip) was the benefactor of Greece, that they all chose him commander-in-chief both on sea and land, an honour previously conferred on no one.”

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.33.7

“…he (Alexander) inflicted punishment on the Persians for their outrages on all the Greeks, and how he delivered us all from the greatest evils by enslaving the barbarians and depriving them of the resources they used for the destruction of the Greeks, pitting now the Athenians and now the Thebans against the ancestors of these Spartans, how in a word he made Asia subject to Greece.

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.34.3

“The 38th book contains the completion of the disaster of the Hellenes. For though both the whole of Hellas and her several parts had often met with mischance, yet to none of her former defeats can we more fittingly apply, the name of disaster with all it signifies than to the events of my own time. In the time I am speaking of a comon misfortune befell the Peloponnesians, the Boiotians, the Phokians, the Euboians, the Lokrians, some of the cities on the Ionians Gulf, and finally the Macedonians

Polybius “The Histories”, 9.38.8

“..the Achaean magistrates refused the latter request on the ground that they were not empowered to receive additional members without consulting Philip and the rest of the allies. For the alliance was still in force which Antigonus had concluded during the Cleomenic war between the Achaeans, Epirots, Phocians, Macedonians, Boeotians, Acarnanians,º and Thessalians. They, however, agreed to march out to their assistance on condition that the envoys deposited in Sparta their own sons as hostages, to ensure that the Messenians should not come to terms with the Aetolians without the consent of the Achaeans.”

Polybius “The Histories”, 4.9.4

Even when  he  [Alexander]  crossed  to  Asia to chastise the Persians  for the outrages they had perpetuated  against  the Hellenes, he strove to exact the punishment…” 

Polybius “The Histories”, 5.10.8

Polybios  also in talking of the size and height of the Alps compares them the greatest mountains in HELLAS: Taugetos, Lykaion, Parnassos, OLYMPOS, Pilion, and Ossa;   and Aimos, Rodopi and Dounax in Thrace.”

Polybius “The Histories”, 34.10


  • While wintering in Macedonia Philip spent his time in diligently levying troops for the coming campaign, and in securing his frontiers from attack by the barbarians of the interior.

Polybius “The Histories”, XX,3


  • 8 Antiochus, surnamed the Great, he whom the Romans overthrew, upon reaching Chalcis, as Polybius tells us in his 20th Book, celebrated his wedding. He was then fifty years old, and had undertaken two very serious tasks, one being the liberation of Greece, as he himself gave out, the other a war with Rome. He fell in love, then, with a maiden of Chalcis at the time of the war, and was most eager to make her his wife, being himself a wine-bibber and fond of getting drunk. 3 She was the daughter of Cleoptolemus, a noble Chalcidian, and of surpassing beauty.

Polybius “The Histories”, XX.8

Again, no one could approve of the general scheme of this writer. Having set himself the task of writing the history of Greece from the point at which Thucydides leaves off, just when he was approaching the battle of Leuctra and the most brilliant period of Greek history, he abandoned Greece and her efforts, and changing his plan decided to write the history of Philip. 4 Surely it would have been much more dignified and fairer to include Philip’s achievements in the history of Greece than to include the history of Greece in that of Philip.

Polybius “The Histories”, 8.11.3-4

There are several peninsulas jutting out from Europe, and Polybius has given a better description of them than Eratosthenes, but not an adequate one. 12 The latter says there are three, that which runs down to the Pillars and is occupied by Spain, that running down to the Straits and occupied by Italy, and thirdly that terminated by Cape Malea and comprising all the peoples between the Adriatic and the Euxine and Tanaïs. 13 Polybius agrees about the two first, but makes the third that reaching to Malea and Sunium, occupied by the whole of Greece, by Illyria and parts of Thrace, the fourth being the Thracian Chersonese, on which is the Strait between Sestus and Abydus, inhabited by Thracians, and the fifth that of the Cimmerian Bosporus and the mouth of the Palus Maeotis.

Polybius “The Histories”, 34.7.13

Antiochus traversed the worst part of the road in the manner I have described, safely but very slowly and with difficulty, only just reaching the pass of Mount Labus on the eighth day. The barbarians were collected there, convinced that they would prevent the enemy from crossing, and a fierce struggle now took place, in which the barbarians were forced back for the following reason. 3 Formed in a dense mass they fought desperately against the phalanx face to face, but while it was still night the light-armed troops had made a wide detour and occupied the heights in their rear, and the barbarians, the moment they noticed this, were panic-stricken and took to flight. 4 The king made every effort to restrain his men from continuing the pursuit, summoning them back by bugle-call, as he wanted his army to descend into Hyrcania unbroken and in good order.

Polybius “The Histories”, 10.31.2-4

Philip, then, is but the nominal pretext of the war; he is in no kind of danger; but as he has for allies most of the Peloponnesians, the Boeotians, the Euboeans, the Phocians, the Locrians, the Thessalians, and Epirots, you made the treaty against them all, the terms being 5 that their persons and personal property should belong to the Romans and their cities and lands to the Aetolians. 6 Did you capture a city yourselves you would not allow yourselves to outrage freemen or to burn their towns, which you regard as a cruel proceeding and barbarous; 7 but have made a treaty by which you have given up to the barbarians the rest of the Greeks to be exposed to atrocious outrage and violence.

Polybius “The Histories”, 11.5.6-7

“This is a sworn treaty made between us, Hannibal the general, Mago, Myrkan, Barmokar and all other Carthaginian senators present with him, and all Carthaginians serving under him, on the one side, and Xenophanes the Athenian, son of Kleomachos, the envoy whom King Philip, son of Demetrios, sent to us on behalf of himself, and the Macedonians and allies, on the other side. `In the presence of ZEUS, HERA and APOLLO; in the presence of the Genius of Carthage; …and in the presence of all the gods who possess Carthage; and in the presence of ALL THE GODS who possess Macedonia AND THE REST OF HELLAS; and in the presence of all the gods of the army who preside over this oath. Thus said Hannibal the general and all the Carthaginian senators along with him and the Carthaginian soldiers: ..That King Philip and the Macedonians AND the REST OF THE HELLENES who are their allies shall protect the Carthaginians,… King Philip and the Macedonians AND the OTHER HELLENES who are their allies shall be protected and guarded by the Carthaginians…”

Polybius “The Histories”, 7.9.1-7

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