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In writing his account of the relentless growth of the Roman Empire, the Greek statesman Polybius set out to help his fellow-countrymen understand how their world came to be dominated by Rome. Opening with the Punic War in 264 BC, he records the critical stages of Roman expansion – its campaigns throughout the Mediterranean, the temporary setbacks inflicted by Hannibal and the final destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. An active participant in contemporary politics, as well as a friend of many prominent Roman citizens, Polybius was able to draw on a range of eyewitness accounts, alongside his own experiences of many of the central events, giving his work immediacy and authority.
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