WHEN Polybius of Megalopolis proposed to write the history of all the remarkable occurrences of his own times, he thought it proper to demonstrate by facts, that the Romans, who were continually at war with the neighbouring states, for six hundred years after the building of their city, acquired in that space of time no considerable extent of dominion. But after they had subdued a small part of Italy, which upon the invasion of Hannibal they lost at the battle of Cannae, and viewed their enemies under their own walls; they made so great a progress in good fortune, that in less than fifty-three years, they became masters, not only of all Italy and Africa, but likewise of Spain.
And being still desirous to enlarge their empire, they crossed the Ionian sea, conquered Greece, and ruined the Macedonians, whose king they carried to Rome in chains. No person can therefore suppose that all this proceeded from causes merely human, but either from fatal necessity, the influence of the planets, or the will of the Deity, which regards with favour all our actions, while they are just and virtuous. For these provide for future contingencies by such a train of apparent causes, that thinking persons must conclude the administration of human affairs to he in the hands of a divine Providence; so that when the energy of nations by the divine influence is roused and alert, they flourish in prosperity; and on the contrary, when they become displeasing to the gods, their affairs decline to a state resembling that which now exists.