Polybius and Fate
As a historian, Polybius is committed to the task of understanding cause and effect: what is it about Rome that enabled them to have such unparalleled success? He is determined to observe and explain for us everything that can be understood and explained.
Interestingly, however, Polybius also admits the limits of explanation. Some things. like weather, "just so happen" and we cannot account for them in the lessons we take from history. So he acknowledges the role of what he calls Fate, or Fortune (Greek Tyche), which directs larger patterns that are beyond the control of individual players. So he says for instance
Fortune has turned almost all the events of the known world in a single direction and has forced everything to tend towards the same goal. A historian, then, should use his work to bring under a single conspectus for his readers the means by which Fortune has brought everything to this point.As Polybius sees it, you can explain and learn from what Rome did to make herself ready to do what she did, but you cannot explain how the stage was set that gave Rome the opportunity she had. In the Introduction, Brian McGing tells us
Polybius (2010-11-11). The Histories (Oxford World's Classics) (p. 5). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Polybius starts his story in 220 BC, he tells us at one point (4.2), because that was when Tyche rebuilt the world, new rulers emerging in many places at the same time. There was no rational explanation for why a number of kings all died at the same time: it was part of the larger design of the world that Tyche established.Though he is a pagan without a concept of a God who directs the course of history, Polybius has to be honest about what he sees. He reads the events and cannot avoid the conclusion that something big beyond our control is going on.
Polybius (2010-11-11). The Histories (Oxford World's Classics) (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Which takes us of course to Daniel 7.