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Polybius’ allusions to Odysseus have often been dismissively attributed to “romantic imagination” in studies of the historian’s purpose and method. This tendency to analyze Polybius’ “Homeric” passages in emotional terms, minimizing their historiographical significance, has obscured a key facet of the historian’s self-characterization. The Odyssean theme in the Histories suggestively connects the worldly statesman to the spirit and accomplishments of the περίπλους narratives pioneered by Hecataeus, Scylax, and others. On this foundation, Polybius constructs an ecumenical geography which unites Greek intellectual and cultural prestige with the benefits of Roman hegemony.