Polybius and the Constitution

In this blog post, I searched the term, Polybius “United States” constitution and I chose the article that appeared first on the list which was, “Polybius and the Constitution” it is written by Gilbert Chinard. The writer actually has written a lot about the relations between Polybius and the American constitution, like how the power of the government was split into different powers. Gilbert Chinard sends a message to his readers that Polybius’ records of the Roman government are important. He wrote about the creation of the constitution and how the founding fathers used ideas from Polybius. His ancient works had some influence in the constitution, “…best legislators of all agree…it will be an eternal rule in politics among every free people, that there is a balance of power to be carefully held by every state within itself” (Chinard 42). The power Swift is talking about in Chinard’s article is about the absolute power within the states, he is saying how the power would be destructive if it is placed in one state. Polybius also notes how the Roman government splits its power into three different categories in aristocracy, oligarchy, and democracy, “…the force of each being neutralized by that of the others, neither of them should prevail and outbalance another, but that the constitution should remain…in a state of equilibrium” (Polybius 10). Rome had a type of government where the power is not centralized but split into three different categories, and it is one of the reasons why this nation was able to prevail for so long.

Work Cited

Chinard, Gilbert. “Polybius and the American Constitution.” Journal of the History of Ideas 1.1 (1940): 38-58. Brooklyn College. Web. 4 Nov. 2017. <http://www.jstor.org.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/stable/2707009?sid=primo&origin=crossref&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents&gt;.

Becky, Team Hera


Polybius’ Constitution


Fun fact: As I was looking for pictures I came across an arcade version of Polybius. This was a fictional arcade game from 1981 that hasn’t been proved to ever exist. Though it did start an urban legend that it was a psychology experiment ran by the government to see what effects the of addiction the game had on players. Eventually, this arcade game supposedly disappeared from the arcade market.

The search return that I received from using OneSearch was an article called “Polybius and the American Constitution“. The appropriate MLA citation format that I used is Chinard, Gilbert. “Polybius and the American Constitution.” http://www.jstor.org.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/stable/pdf/2707009.pdf. Jan., 1940. The primary intended audience for this publication are American Architects. “This theory, however, had not originated with Swift, and the Doc- tor himself had quoted his authority-no less than Polybius-who tells us, ‘the best government is that which consists of three forms, regis, optimatium et populi imperitum’ ” (pg 43). This quote is connected to the search term by saying that Polybius had the best way to describe the best government. Polybius tells us that the best government consists of three forms, which translates to “King, conservatives, and inexperienced people”. What Polybius could be saying is that there should a King or some type of leader to guide us in the government. The conservative people could be for good traditions to keep going and don’t make changes to certain things. Inexperienced people could be for more energy in the government, someone who has ideas that are outside of the box for the government. “Nor again can we style every oligarchy an aristocracy, but only that where the government is in the hands of a selected body of the justest and wisest men” (Polybius, On the Form of States). This quote from the ancient texts explains how Polybius knows that the government can get messed up and how selecting the wisest and adjustable candidates are best for the government. This reminds me of the three orders from Art History. The three orders are columns called Ionic, Corinthian, and Doric. Each of these orders consists of specific bases, shafts, capitals, friezes, etc. If one of the parts of an order get mixed into a different order, it wouldn’t look right. This connects to government in a way that the government, itself, can get mixed up if we choose the wrong candidates. The government also has a lot of orders like the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches.

Chinard, Gilbert. “Polybius and the American Constitution.” http://www.jstor.org.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/stable/pdf/2707009.pdf. Jan., 1940.

Caroline, Team Cronos