1st Edition

Emotion and Historiography in Polybius’ Histories

By Regina M. Loehr Copyright 2024

    This volume explores emotion and its importance in Polybius’ conception of history, his writing of historiography, and the benefits of this understanding to readers of history.

    How and why did ancient historians include emotions in their texts? This book argues that in the Histories of Polybius – the Greek historian who recorded Rome’s rise to dominion in the ancient Mediterranean – emotions play an effective role in history, used by the historian to explain the causes of actions, connect events, and make sense of human behavior. Through analysis of the emotions in the narrative and theory of Polybius’ Histories using critical terminology and frameworks from modern philosophy, psychology, and political science, this work calls into question assumptions that emotions were purely irrational and detrimental in ancient history, politics, and historiography. Emotions often positively shape Polybius’ historical narrative, provide criteria for the success and morality of agents, actions, and even historians, and aid the historian in guiding readers to become intelligent leaders and citizens of a new world centered on Rome.

    Emotion and Historiography in Polybius’ Histories is a fascinating read for students and scholars of ancient historiography and history, as well as those working on ancient political thought, emotions in the ancient Greek world, and emotion in history and literature more broadly.

    Introduction: Effective Emotion in Historiography; 1. Fundamentals of Emotion: Social Science, History, and Human Behavior; 2. Individual Emotions in Context: Polybius, Aristotle, and the Classical Historians; 3. Internal State Change: The People’s Moral Emotions; 4. Emotions at War: Causal Anger and Justifying War; 5. Learning From History: Audience-Based Emotion and Conclusions.


    Regina M. Loehr is Lecturer in Classics at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, USA. Her research explores the intersection of psychology, ethics, and politics in ancient historiography. She edited digital texts published in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® Digital Library from 2018 to 2022.