The History of the Peloponnesian War is a historical account of the Peloponnesian War, which was fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens). It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian historian who also happened to serve as an Athenian general during the war. His account of the conflict is widely considered to be a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The Histories are divided into eight books by editors of later antiquity. Analyses of the History generally occur in one of two camps. On the one hand, some scholars view the work as an objective and scientific piece of history. The judgment of J. B. Bury reflects his traditional interpretation of the work: "[The History is] severe in its detachment, written from a purely intellectual point of view, unencumbered with platitudes and moral judgments, cold and critical." On the other hand, in keeping with more recent interpretation that are associated with reader-response criticism, the History is better understood as a piece of literature rather than an objective record of the historical events. This view is embodied in the words of W. R. Connor, who describes Thucydides as "an artist who responds to, selects and skillfully arranges his material, and develops its symbolic and emotional potential." Contents [hide]
1 Historical method
1.3 Neutral point of view?
1.4 Role of religion
1.5 Rationalization of myth
2 Subject matter of the History
2.1 Military technology
2.3 Earth science
3 Some difficulties of interpretation
3.1 Strata of composition
5 Method of citation
7 Outline of the work
8 See also
10 Secondary sources
P. Oxy. 16, fragment of a 1st-century manuscript
Thucydides is considered to be one of the great "fathers" of Western history, thus making his methodology the subject of much analysis in area of historiography. Chronology
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. This method contrasts sharply with Herodotus' earlier work The Histories, which jumps around chronologically and makes frequent and roundabout excursions into seemingly unrelated areas and time periods and has set the standard for historiographical rigor to this day. Speeches
Thucydides also makes extensive use of speeches in order to elaborate on the event in question. While the inclusion of long first-person speeches is somewhat alien to modern historical method, in the context of ancient Greek oral culture speeches are expected. 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. Of the speeches, the most famous is the funeral oration of Pericles, which is found in Book Two. 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. Some of the speeches are probably fabricated according to his expectations of, as he puts it, "what was called for in each situation" (1.22.2). Neutral point of view?
Despite being an Athenian and a participant in the conflict, Thucydides is often regarded as having written a generally unbiased account of the conflict with respect to the sides involved in it. In the introduction to the piece he states, "my work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but was done to last for ever" (1.22.4). There are...
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