Classics 210: Greek & Roman Classics in English 10/22
Thucydides Peloponnesian War
1. 1: 1-23 Archaeology, Greek history Through Persian War
Thucydides argues two main points:
o Peloponnesian War was the greatest war ever fought
o Thucydides was an extremely accurate reporter; much more accurate than
Herodotus – was writing of events of his over time and was actually involved
compared to Herodotus who wrote from a much later time. Herodotus known as
“father of lies”
This passage shows that Thucydides is a credible source, experienced the events 1t
Writes to set out the use of his work. Lacks the stories of romance & adventure that
Herodotus includes. Instead, stresses how his work is useful to aid the future.
o Common idea in modern society, but very left field thinking in Ancient Greece.
o Emphasizes that history will repeat itself; there are patterns that can be
o ktema ês aei (possession for always/possession for all time)
Lays out the two causes for the war
o aitiai (immediate cause) Athenian quarrels with Sparta – visible causes
o alêthestatê prophasis (real cause/”truest cause”) Sparta’s fear of the growing
power of Athens.
Shows the growth of power of Athens.
2. 1:139-145 Spartan Demands & Pericles’ Reply
Sparta calls assembly – declares war on Athens. Then Pericles encourages Athens to go
to war by showing that they are stronger in every way, more adventurous, more
wealthy, more effective Athenians vote to go to war.
Pericles reminds Athenians that their ancestors fought for freedom.
This passage included to show that the Athenians truly believed they were superior to
other city-states... had the right to have the power/influence.
Thucydides gives insight on how Athenians felt about themselves compared to other
Athens better militarily on the sea, Sparta excels on land battles.
Herodotus focuses on customs, different lands, explaining how culturally different
“Barbaric” lands are (i.e. Egypt) whereas Thucydides begins first book with
3. 2:34-54,65 Funeral Oration, Plague, Assessment of Pericles’ Policy
Pericles delivers funeral speech (based on likelihood, not word for word account)
Attempts to lift up the spirits of Athenians
o Emphasizes democracy of Athens, which has laws that give equal justice to all
o Many Greek states have copied this system.
o Compares Spartans to Athenians. Live a life of austerity, Athens live as they
please BUT are just as equipped for war. Have found the perfect balance
between being serious about pursuits and enjoying themselves. o “I doubt if the world can produce a man, who where he only himself to depend
upon, is equal to so many emergencies and graced by so happy a versatility as
Passage included showing Thucydides’ historical writing about plague shows credibility
as a reporter on the events.
o He had the illness and saw his fellow citizens with the illness.
This shows the importance of government.
o Thucydides discusses the benefits of a democratic government that is run by
many to serve all whereas Sparta has an oligarchy government.
o Herodotus emphasizes governm