Thucydides, Polybius, and Human Nature - Oxford ScholarshipForgot password? Don't have an account? This chapter discusses the importance of human nature in Polybius' views on historical causation. Scholars such as Walbank have argued persuasively for Thucydides being an importance predecessor of Polybius, but a comparison of their views on causation has yet to be undertaken. It argues that the connection between the fifth-century bc historian Thucydides and Polybius, writing in the second century bc , extends to the prominent place both assign human beings and human nature in their explanation of historical events. How human nature emerges in these authors, how they envisage its functioning within the historical process, and how both authors make clear its centrality to their work are key aims of the chapter.
Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
CLAS 1110 (2018): Tyranny, Democracy and Empire: Thucydides
Thucydides has been dubbed the father of " scientific history " by those who accept his claims to have applied strict standards of impartiality and evidence-gathering and analysis of cause and effect, without reference to intervention by the deities, as outlined in his introduction to his work. He also has been called the father of the school of political realism , which views the political behavior of individuals and the subsequent outcomes of relations between states as ultimately mediated by, and constructed upon, the emotions of fear and self-interest. More generally, Thucydides developed an understanding of human nature to explain behaviour in such crises as plagues , massacres , and civil war. In spite of his stature as a historian, modern historians know relatively little about Thucydides's life. The most reliable information comes from his own History of the Peloponnesian War , in which he mentions his nationality, paternity, and birthplace.
Selections from The History of the Peloponnesian War. Newly translated into spare, vigorous English, and situated within a connective narrative framework, Woodruff’s selections will be of special interest to instructors in political theory and Greek civilization. Paul Woodruff is.
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Thucydides, as he himself tells us, was an Athenian and lived during the period of the Peloponnesian War, though, from the unfinished state of his work, he probably died before it came to an end. Believing in the early stages of the war that it would be one of the most important wars in Greek history, he collected his materials and began the early drafts of his history soon after the war began. The first book is his study of events leading to the war and represents the earliest surviving account of the building of the Athenian empire. The subsequent books narrate the course of the war itself. The electronic text version of this translation comes from the Eris Project at Virginia Tech, which has made it available for public use. The hypertext version presented here has been designed for students of Ancient History at the University of Calgary.
Perhaps without realizing it, Americans know firsthand the lesson about ethics, democracy, and war that Thucydides teaches his readers in his History of the Peloponnesian War. And when it does, the war can be very, very long. In agrarian societies, there is a season for war, because agrarians must be home for planting and harvesting. The Athenians knew what we Americans now know: for empires, every season is a season for war, because empires can afford to divide their labor and devote great resources to the deployment of troops. The Peloponnesian War, like most wars, can be traced to political tensions that arose well before any fighting broke out. In the preceding years, Athens had emerged as the sole superpower after successfully defending the better part of Greece from the Persians, who had threatened to take over the ancient world. With the Persians out of the way, the task of governing the empire was left to the Athenians—who were happy to do it.