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About the Author

Born into a family of Athens's old nobility claiming descent from the Homeric hero Ajax of Salamis, Thucydides pursued a political career under Pericles and served as a general in the Great Peloponnesian War of 431--404 b.c. His subsequent exile for failure to prevent a Spartan takeover of an show more Athenian colony in Thrace enabled him to observe the war from both sides. In his history of the war, he examines the policies and motives of the people involved with a calculated rationality that nevertheless conveys great passion. Although his narrative style is lucid and astringent, the language of the speeches that he gives his protagonists is some of the most difficult, yet rhetorically powerful, Greek from any period of antiquity. The work is deeply serious in tone. As Thucydides tells his readers at the beginning of the work, it contains nothing of entertainment value. He meant it, as he says, to be not simply a set-piece written for the delectation of an audience, but a "possession for ever." As Herodotus was the inventor of universal history, Thucydides was the inventor of the analytical historical monograph. He wrote in conscious contrast to Herodotus, whose work is full of entertaining fable and romance. While Herodotus wrote about the past by using all manner of traditions gleaned in his travels, Thucydides considered only contemporary history to be reliable and writes as an interrogator and witness of contemporary men and events. The gods, too, are absent from Thucydides's work, which scrutinizes human motivations as the exclusive business of history. The most powerful intellectual influences visible are the fully rational method of description and prognosis developed by the Hippocratic physicians and the tools of logical analysis and verbal argument then being forged by the Sophists. Behind these, however, lay a sense of tragedy. The history of Thucydides possesses the rhythm of a Sophoclean drama of reversal of fortune in which Athens falls from the pinnacle of imperial success and brilliance into political corruption, ruthless and amoral imperial aggression, and finally utter defeat and disaster. Athens's imperial hubris leads to its nemesis at the hands of Sparta, a conservative and landlocked state that had been powerless at the beginning of the war to inflict significant harm on the Athenians. Thucydides's work is unfinished. It ends abruptly in midsentence during a discussion of the events of the year 411 b.c. It was continued to the end of the war by Xenophon. Although very much the intellectual inferior of Thucydides, Xenophon managed by imitation to infuse this part of his Hellenica (his continuation to 362 b.c. of the history of Thucydides) with an elevation absent in the rest of his work. Until relatively recently, scholars took Thucydides at his word as an objective writer. More recently it has been recognized that his work skillfully promotes a patriotic and political argument, written in the climate of postwar recriminations. He presents Athens's empire as a natural consequence of the position of that city-state in the Greek world and the Athenian leader Pericles as Athens's greatest statesman, a leader who had governed Athens and preserved the empire with a firm and intelligent hand. Thucydides wanted to persuade his readers that Pericles was not the villain who destroyed Athens, that the blame fell to the politicians who came after him and pandered to the most extreme ambitious of the common citizens, the politicians who were the ultimate arbiters of policy in Athens's democracy. Some modern historians remain persuaded by Thucydides's portrait of Pericles and the Athenian democracy, but others argue from Thucydides's own testimony that Pericles led Athens into an unnecessary war in the belief that the opportunity had arrived to advance Athenian domination over the whole of the Greek world. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Bust of Thucydides, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto


Works by Thucydides

The History of the Peloponnesian War (0400) 7,974 copies, 59 reviews
Thucydides, Book 7 (1886) 78 copies, 2 reviews
Thucydides, Book 2 (1989) 76 copies
Thucydides, Book 6 (1971) 53 copies
Pericles's Funeral Oration (0404) 43 copies
Thucydides, Book 1 (1905) 39 copies
Pericles Orations (1979) 24 copies
Thucydides Reader (2005) 21 copies
Thucydides, Book 3 (1909) 19 copies
Thucydides, Book 4 (1982) 16 copies
Thukydides (1977) 5 copies
The Capture of Sphacteria (2010) 4 copies, 1 review
Stories from Thucydides (2021) 3 copies
Thucydides : Book II (1985) 2 copies
La grande dune 2 copies
THUCYDIDES. (1881) 2 copies
Thukydides V 1 copy
Thoukydidēs 1 copy
Thukydides in Auswahl (1950) 1 copy
La Peste ad Atene (2020) 1 copy
Economico 1 copy

Associated Works

The Portable Greek Historians (1959) — Contributor — 557 copies, 4 reviews
The Penguin Book of War (1999) — Contributor — 456 copies, 1 review
Britannica Great Books: Herodotus and Thucydides (0430) — Contributor — 384 copies
The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature (1998) — Contributor — 161 copies
Greek Civilization and Character (1924) — Contributor — 150 copies
The Mammoth Book of True War Stories (1992) — Contributor — 88 copies
The Book of the Sea (1954) — Contributor — 36 copies
Modern School Classics : Four Greek authors (1968) — Contributor — 12 copies
The Athenian Half-Century 478-431 BC Thucydides I 89-118 (1971) — some editions — 10 copies
Selections from Greek Historians (1878) — Contributor — 10 copies
Griekse geschiedschrijvers (1951) — Contributor — 6 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Legal name
Θουκυδίδης Ολόρου Αθηναίος (Ancient Greek)
0460 BCE (circa)
Date of death
0395 BCE (circa)
Country (for map)
Athens, Greece
Place of death
Athens, Greece
Places of residence
Athens, Greece



OT for GMacAree in Fine Press Forum (November 2023)
New LE: Thucydides The Peloponnesian War in Folio Society Devotees (July 2023)
Thucydides in Ancient History (December 2021)
Group read - Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War in The 11 in 11 Category Challenge (December 2010)
Translating Thucydides in Ancient History (November 2010)
Herodotus vs. Thucydides in Ancient History (March 2007)


Reason Read: ancient history, nonfiction
This was not an easy read. A lot of towns, names and all in all it was often a blur. I did enjoy some points made in debates and the discussions on oligarchy, democracy, and constitution. I think this might be a reference book but not something I would want to read cover to cover again.
Kristelh | 58 other reviews | Jan 31, 2024 |
The version I read was an abridged edition - 96 pages - old Danish translation that were used for high school. Interesting to read about men doing sports naked, about very detailed description of some sort of plague or epidemic - really horrible - that they couldn't find a cure for. But mostly it was long speeches of peace-negotiations or war declarations with moral arguments on why a city should be spared or everyone killed in it.
ctpress | 58 other reviews | Jan 27, 2024 |
Bought this book in Newport at the end of our epic summer 2023 PCS. Started reading it to get ahead for the school year. Incredible historical research undertaking by Strassler to make it understandable and less dense to read. I read the entirety of the first four books, but due to time constraints only read key speeches and the paragraph summaries for books 5-8.

From the S&W Syllabus: Thucydides covers all nine Strategy and War course themes in his account of this war, compelling his readers to think through the interrelationship of policy, strategy, and operations and the integration and application of naval power.… (more)
SDWets | 20 other reviews | Sep 1, 2023 |
As this book has been review a zillion times I'm not going to repeat the effort (plus I'm super busy at the moment), but I'll explain why I gave it a three at least.

It's a classic of course, and the translation seems pretty good to my relatively untrained eyes/ears, but the narration was definitely sub-par. I've no idea if there are more recent audiobooks, but I'd definitely recommend looking for one before going for this one by Pat Bottino--or just read a non-audio version of course.
qaphsiel | 58 other reviews | Feb 20, 2023 |



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Victor Davis Hanson Introduction, Contributor
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Benjamin Jowett Translator
P. A. Brunt Introduction
Hugh R. Trevor-Roper Series Editor
J.W. Barnard Translator
Thomas Hobbes Translator
M. I. Finley Introduction
Rex Warner Translator
Joseph Gavorse Introduction
John H. Finley Introduction
Moses Hadas Introduction
Jack Wolfgang Beck Cover artist
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George Giusti Cover designer
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Holger Thesleff Introduction
J. A. Hollo Translator
Fricis Garais Translator
M.A. Schwartz Translator
Martin Hammond Translator
Betty Radice Translator
Hanson W. Baldwin Introduction
Paul Cartledge Contributor
Thomas R. Martin Contributor
Gregory Crane Contributor
Alan L. Boeghehold Contributor
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William F. Wyatt Contributor
Nicolle Hirschfeld Contributor
Sture Linnér Translator
Karl Hude Editor
John O'Connor Illustrator
E. H. Blakeney Translator
D. Loenen Translator
Helmuth Vretska Translator
Werner Rinner Übersetzer
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