Athenian general during the war. His account of the conflict is widely considered to be a classic thucydides history of the peloponnesian war pdf regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. On the one hand, some scholars view the work as an objective and scientific piece of history.
This view is embodied in the words of W. Connor, who describes Thucydides as “an artist who responds to, selects and skillfully arranges his material, and develops its symbolic and emotional potential. Thucydides is one of the first western historians to employ a strict standard of chronology, recording events by year, with each year consisting of the summer campaign season and a less active winter season. Thucydides also makes extensive use of speeches in order to elaborate on the event in question. These include addresses given to troops by their generals before battles and numerous political speeches, both by Athenian and Spartan leaders, as well as debates between various parties. Thucydides undoubtedly heard some of these speeches himself while for others he relied on eyewitness accounts. These speeches are suspect in the eyes of Classicists, however, inasmuch as it is not sure to what degree Thucydides altered these speeches in order to most clearly elucidate the crux of the argument presented.
There are scholars, however, who doubt this. Thucydides has a strong pro-Athenian bias. Despite the absence of actions of the gods, religion and piety play critical roles in the actions of the Spartans, and to a lesser degree, the Athenians. Thucydides references Homer frequently as a source of information, but always adds a distancing clause, such as “Homer shows this, if that is sufficient evidence,” and “assuming we should trust Homer’s poetry in this case too. Homer’s catalog of ships to determine the approximate number of Greek soldiers who were present. In fact, Thucydides claims that Troy could have been conquered in half the time had the Greek leaders allocated resources properly and not sent a large portion of the army on raids for supplies.
Thucydides makes sure to inform his reader that he, unlike Homer, is not a poet prone to exaggeration, but instead a historian, whose stories may not give “momentary pleasure,” but “whose intended meaning will be challenged by the truth of the facts. By distancing himself from the storytelling practices of Homer, Thucydides makes it clear that while he does consider mythology and epics to be evidence, these works cannot be given much credibility, and that it takes an impartial and empirically minded historian, such as himself, to accurately portray the events of the past. The first book of the History, after a brief review of early Greek history and some programmatic historiographical commentary, seeks to explain why the Peloponnesian War broke out when it did and what its causes were. Peloponnesian War, it uses these events as a medium to suggest several other themes closely related to the war.
It specifically discusses in several passages the socially and culturally degenerative effects of war on humanity itself. Greek citizens to each other in the name of one side or another in the war. Thucydides’ presentation is decidedly ambivalent on this theme. He states that this is the result of the development of piracy and coastal settlements in earlier Greece. The legitimacy of the empire is explored in several passages, notably in the speech at 1.
78, where an anonymous Athenian legation defends the empire on the grounds that it was freely given to the Athenians and not taken by force. The Athenians also argue that, “We have done nothing extraordinary, nothing contrary to human nature in accepting an empire when it was offered to us and then in refusing to give it up. They claim that anyone in their position would act in the same fashion. His particular ancient Greek prose is also very challenging, grammatically, syntactically, and semantically. This has resulted in much scholarly disagreement on a cluster of issues of interpretation. 410 BC, leaving six years of war uncovered. Furthermore, there is a great deal of uncertainty whether he intended to revise the sections he had already written.
Thucydides’ opinion on the conflicting matter had changed. This conflict is called the “strata of composition” debate. The lack of progress in this debate over the course of the twentieth century has caused many Thucydidean scholars to declare the debate insoluble and to side-step the issue in their work. Thucydides almost never names his informants and alludes to competing versions of events only a handful of times.