Greek Historian Polybius (203-120 BC), first forayed into public affairs when he was just a young boy. He was inspired by his father, Lycortas. He was a man of solid opinion, who believed that Rome had rights over Greece, and his convictions landed him right in the middle of a crossfire between the two countries. As a result of this, more than a thousand Acheans, including Polybius, were brought to Italy under charges of opposing the Roman rule. Fortunately for him, a chance encounter with Aemilius Paulus during one of his campaigns proved a blessing in disguise, as he was released to go live in his house and serve as a tutor for his two sons. He befriended the younger son, Publius Scipio Aemilianus, who was part of the Army. His contributions got the respect it deserved, and the Romans left him in charge of administration for each city in Greece when they left its territory.
Coming to the field of cryptography, his ideas on telegraphy proved to be the inspiration behind steganography. He developed the Polybius square for signaling, where the letters of the alphabet were organized in a 5X5 square. The Polybius checkerboard (having elements common to later encryption systems), proved to be his means of encryption.His first book was a biography on the life of statesman 'Philopoemen'. Some of his other notable contibutions in the literary arena were 'Tactics' and 'Histories' (dealing with the concept of anacyclosis). His book on history basically outlined events he or other people had witnessed and had passed on through oral tradition. Another interesting fact about his life is that, Edward Tufte is known to have said that Polybius was a key part of Charles Joseph Minard's figurative map of Hannibal's trip to Italy during the Second Punic War. Little is known about what became of Polybius in the later years of his life, and the theory of him dying from falling off a horse has been accepted even though the only record that states that is unreliable.
- LacusCurtius, the life and works of Polybius, Col. H. J. EDWARDS, C.B
- Polybius of Megalopolis
- Polybius, NNDB - tracking the entire world
- Image source and credit: http://www.livius.org (published with permission)