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Thucydides - Parliament; Vienna

Thucydides ( Greek Θουκυδίδης Thukydídēs ; * before 454 BC ; † probably between 399 BC and 396 BC ) was an Athenian strategist from a well-off background and an outstanding ancient Greek historian . For Thucydides' conception of historical forces, his assumptions about the nature of man and the motives of human action, which also fundamentally influence political conditions, are significant.

His work The Peloponnesian War, which has set standards to this day (an original title has not been passed down), was left unfinished, but in methodological terms it was only in this way that he founded a historiography that is consistently committed to the spirit of a neutral search for truth and aims to meet an objective, scientific claim. Today's Thucydides research is divided as to the extent to which he lived up to this claim in writing his work. His portrayal of the role of Pericles in the origin of the Peloponnesian War is particularly questioned .

Thucydides himself saw the meaning of his notes in the fact that posterity would “leave a possession forever”. The most striking example of the success of this project is the distinction between various short-term events of the Peloponnesian War and its long-term causes, which were based on the rivalry between the sea ​​power Athens and the land power Sparta . The Melierdialog , which is exemplary in terms of power politics, is also of its own timeless significance .

Life stations

A description of the life of Thucydides that is even approximately complete in the basics is not possible due to a lack of sources. The little that can be considered certain is based on Thucydides' own testimonies, which he incorporated into four passages of his work on the Peloponnesian War without any autobiographical intention. Individual references can be found at Plutarch . The first surviving examination of his life story dates about a millennium later; other obscure short vitae were even further from his era. Blatant gaps and remaining uncertainties are therefore essential features of the following overview.

Origin and career

For the year of birth of Thucydides it can only be said that it was 454 BC at the latest. Could have been because he had to be at least 30 years old to be able to hold the position of strategist, which he held in 424. Like his father, he had Attic citizenship due to his membership in the Demos Halimos of the Phyle Leontis on the west coast of Attica. On the father's side there was a Thracian line of descent, because the father had the Thracian name Oloros and bequeathed the son possessions in Thrace and the use of the gold mines there. Thucydides therefore had considerable fortune and was therefore ultimately able to devote himself entirely to his historical studies.

The family ties to Thrace suggest that Thucydides belonged to prominent circles in Attic society in another respect. Oloros was the name of the Thracian king whose daughter Hegesipyle married the general Miltiades , who was victorious at Marathon , and whose son Kimon, who was politically influential in Athens for a long time , was related to Thucydides after Plutarch. The interest in state affairs, questions of power, and military operations that characterizes Thucydides' portrayal of the Peloponnesian War may therefore have grown naturally from him. His late antique biographer Markellinos sees him as a student of the philosopher Anaxagoras and the sophist Antiphon ; presumably he had also heard Herodotus lectures .

As soon as the Peloponnesian War broke out, Thucydides emphasized at the beginning of his work that he was aware of the unprecedented importance of this armed conflict between the great Greek powers, and so he immediately began to record the events. Thucydides mentions himself once more in connection with the description of the Attic plague which occurred in 430 BC among the Athenians who were enclosed within their walls by the Spartans. Broke out and devastated; Thucydides also fell ill with it. His clear and expert account of the disease is an important source for medical historians today. Not only Thucydides 'knowledgeable description of the epidemic is remarkable, but also his knowledge of the survivors' immunity against later re-infection. What disease it was, however, is controversial. Over 200 publications on the topic bring at least 29 possibilities (from the Ebola virus to typhus abdominalis ) into play. Thucydides 'precise description of the events, often interpreted as the plague, had considerable aftereffects, for example in De rerum natura in Lucretius in antiquity and in Camus' novel The Plague in the 20th century .

Strategist in the Archidamian War

For the year 424 BC In BC Thucydides was elected to the college of ten of strategists , in a military leadership position that also functioned as the last politically important electoral office of the Attic democracy . The ten colleagues exercised the office in parallel, sharing tasks. Thucydides was faced with the task of protecting the Thracian Amphipolis from being taken over by the Spartan general Brasidas , who had built a siege ring around the city and wanted to force the surrender. Amphipolis' citizenship tended differently; but at first those who were determined to defend themselves were still in the majority, so that Thucydides, who was stationed half a day's journey on Thasos , came to the rescue with seven triremes .

Brasidas, according to Thucydides, in the knowledge of the influence of the advancing enemy in Thrace, intensified his efforts to capture Amphipolis and assured the residents of the city such attractive conditions to stay or, alternatively, to leave the city that they actually handed over the city to him before Thucydides on Evening arrived. When he arrived , he only had to secure the neighboring settlement of Eion am Strymon , which, in his estimation, would otherwise also have fallen to Brasidas the next morning. Nevertheless, the Athenians blamed the loss of Amphipolis, the important base in the North Aegean Sea , on their strategist Thucydides as a culpable failure and made a decision to ban him. It is uncertain whether he was waiting for the conviction at all or whether he had already anticipated it by voluntarily staying away from Athens.

The historian describes this event, from which he was forced to stay away from Athens for two decades, just as soberly and apparently uninvolved as the other events of the Peloponnesian War, as if the chronicler Thucydides had nothing to do with the strategist Thucydides. Thucydides, however, paid his Spartan war adversary Brasidas - like only very few others - the highest praise for what he did for Sparta: "Because at that time, through his fair and measured demeanor in the cities, he prompted most of them to desert [from Athens] [... ] and for the subsequent war after the Sicilian events nothing mattered like Brasidas' noble attitude and insight from then, which some knew from experience, others believed the rumor, the allies of Athens eager for Sparta. "

Long-term exiled historian

In the course of his chronological description of the war events, Thucydides does not report at all about the fundamental turn in his own life associated with the exile. He only brings it up with a long delay, nine years after the fall of Amphipolis and his departure from Athens, when he combined the resumption of open hostilities that replaced the Peace of Nicias with a transition to his description of the progress of the war. There is also no reference to the specific circumstances of his recall as strategist and to the charges, negotiations and decisions on which the banishment is based:

“This too was recorded by the same Thucydides of Athens, one after the other, as each event happened, after summers and winters, until Sparta and his allies broke the rule of Athens and took the Long Walls and Piraeus . The war lasted twenty-seven years in all. [...] For all the time, I remember, from the beginning of the war and until its end, many people announced that it would have to last three times nine years. I witnessed it fully, old enough to understand and with full attention to know something precise, and as an exile, twenty years after my campaign near Amphipolis, I had to avoid my country, so I was on both sides, no less on the Peloponnesian, because of the Banishment, so that I could easily find out more. "

It is possible that Kleon , whom Thucydides describes very negatively, was instrumental in the exile. There is no definite knowledge about where and how Thucydides spent the 20 years in exile. It is believed that he spent most of his time on his Thracian possessions. The quoted reference in his historical work that he was able to research more details about both warring parties as a result of the banishment was partly understood to mean that he carried out a lot of on-site research while traveling. His in-depth knowledge of the political situation in Corinth would suggest this . Because of his detailed description of the circumstances of the exclusion of the Spartans from the Olympic Games in 420 BC. His personal presence in Olympia at this time is also believed to be likely. It is also possible, however, that informants were available to him for the individual occurrences.

That the exile of Thucydides ended with the outcome of the Peloponnesian War is testified not only by himself, but also by Pausanias , who mentions a popular assembly resolution containing the permission to return for Thucydides. Again, it is unclear how much time the historian had to work on his work afterwards, which breaks off unfinished in mid-sentence. However, you can find clues in it as to when he was still alive. His description of the Macedonian king Archelaus sounds like an obituary. Since this 399 BC BC, one can assume that Thucydides was still alive at that time. Should one be on the year 397 BC. The inscription that was found in Thasos and named a Lichas as living, dated to the same Lichas , of whose death Thucydides reported, the historian wrote at least 397 BC. Still at his work.

The circumstances of Thucydides' death are also unclear, which led to all sorts of legends in later times. Different versions of an assassination of Thucydides circulated, and may have been inspired by the abrupt end of his writing. According to information from Pausanias and Plutarch, his grave monument was located at the family grave of the Kimons family in the Demos Koile .

Historian of the Peloponnesian War

The oldest surviving manuscript in the history of Thucydides (Codex C). Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana , Plut. 69.2, fol. 513v (first half of the 10th century)

"... Thucydides restricts himself to his one thing, to his one war, in order to model it so vividly that every joint and every function becomes vivid and almost transparent [...], so the Peloponnesian War becomes a war of all wars, because Thucydides reveals the inner connections and penetrates the processes, generalizes, spiritualises, until the accidental recedes and the typical steps forward ... "

Not only as a unique source for the events of the internal Greek power struggle between 431 and 411 BC. Thucydides' portrayal is significant. As Bleckmann points out, it is also the main reason for viewing this period as an independent epoch in Greek history. Like every historical division of epochs in general, this is the result of a mental decision based on conscious historical analysis: "That the entire event between 431 and 404 was to be viewed as a unit, as a single war, was at least not known to many contemporaries and is a ( well-founded) view of things, which is first owed to Thucydides and later to the Greek interpretation of history of the fourth century. "

Creative motives

According to Bleckmann, the sobriety of the presentation and the demonstration of superior insight indicate an effort to enlighten Thucydides' political work; because such an ability also distinguishes the good politician. Landmann also emphasizes the political dimension of the work. History - "the daily growing pile of dumb, stupid facts" - can only illuminate the present when it is illuminated by the spirit. Thucydides is about leading to the right action through fruitful knowledge, and not through specific situation-related instructions, but through the training of thinking in the connection of causes and effects, so that the appropriate orientation for one's own current action can finally be found .

From another point of view, Thucydides is essentially concerned with identifying history as an irreversible process in which it is important to use the opportunity of the historical hour - from Athens, for example, the Spartan peace offer of 425 BC. BC - because missed chances do not return under the changed conditions in the course of events. Last but not least, it is the motives that underlie human action that primarily concern Thucydides. According to Will, they explain not only the behavior of important individual personalities, but also that of cities and states. Bleckmann counts the increasing brutality of actors in the war as one of Thucydides' particularly important aspects of representation:

“Very soon after the outbreak of the war, the Greek public got used to mass executions and disregard for religious rules similar to international law to which people had previously felt obliged to conduct war. […] The peak of inhumanity was reached when the Athenians, for lack of money, released a murderous Thracian mercenary troop home in the summer of 413 and, under the leadership of the Athenian officer Dieitrephes, the entire civilian population and, above all, all of them in the small Boeotian town of Mykalessos School gathered children slaughtered. Thucydides sketched this episode, which was not really important for the war effort, in detail in order to show the various aspects of the war atrocities and brutalities for which the belligerent powers were directly and indirectly responsible. "

Groundbreaking methodological accents

Even if researchers rightly warn against confusing the Thucydideic way of working with the completely different approach and claim of modern historians , its influence was enormous. Thucydides clearly claims to pursue a new, future-oriented form of historiography. He emphasizes the effort that it cost him to reconstruct the prehistory of the Peloponnesian War because, unlike his fellow men, he does not accept reports and statements about the past unchecked. While others aimed more at an effective performance, for him everything depends on the truth:

“What actually happened in the war, however, I did not allow myself to write down according to information from the first best, not even“ according to my opinion ”, but followed up on what I experienced myself and news from others with all possible accuracy down to the last detail. This research was laborious because the witnesses of the individual events did not say the same thing about the same thing, but according to favor or memory. "

Thucydides used his own observations and the eyewitness reports of others to get to the bottom of the facts in a consciously critical examination of possible sources of error. Not only in relation to Attica, but also in a number of other scenes of the war, for example, the exact description of topographical conditions suggests that Thucydides could have informed himself on site. With emphatic justification, therefore, he calls on one to follow his representation, which is free from embellishments and strictly committed to the truth, and not simply to stick to the conventional points of view:

“Perhaps this unsightly presentation will seem less enjoyable for listening; But whoever wants to clearly recognize what has been and thus also what will be in the future, which will once again be the same or similar according to human nature, may consider it useful, and that should be enough for me: for permanent possession, not as a showpiece it is written down for one-time listening. "

The work is therefore not designed to purely determine and present facts. Thucydides aimed at a more deeply founded truth than that which results from day-to-day political affairs with the consequences of events. According to the meanwhile classical reading, this becomes particularly clear in the treatment of reasons for the origin of the Peloponnesian War, which Thucydides immediately follows on from the references to his methodical care. He addresses the end of the peace agreed between Athens and Sparta a decade earlier and points to the current disputes and local entanglements that were cited by those involved as reasons for war and perceived as such by contemporaries, but also emphasizes:

"Of course, the truest reason, at the same time the most hidden, I see in the growth of Athens, which forced the terrified Spartans to go to war."

For Thucydides, who, as an exception, judges in the first person, it is not the propagandistically tangible occasions and reasons for controversy discussed in the mutual allegations of the powers involved (αἰτίαι καὶ διαφοράι) that are mainly decisive for the decision to go to war, but εσθ as the most truthful motive (ἀλάτη πρόφασις) the hardly admitted fear of the Spartans of the growing power of Athens.

Structure of the plant

The content-related accents and compositional features set by Thucydides himself result mainly in five different parts of the work. The division into eight books, which was only made in the Hellenistic period and which serves as the basis for all job information, only partially corresponds to this.

In the introductory part, which is identical to Book I, Thucydides not only formulates and explains his motif that the war between the great powers Athens and Sparta is the largest and most important of all for all Greeks to date (1. 1–19), but also refers on his own methodological precautions (1. 22) and develops the difference between the current entanglements that sparked war and the underlying cause of war by giving a detailed account of the causes (1. 23–88) and the growing tension between Sparta and Athens in the period of the previous 50 Years illuminated (1. 89–118). This first part closes with the immediate preparations for war and speeches of justification by both sides (1. 119–146).

In the second part of the work, Thucydides describes the course of 431 BC. . AD started Archidamian War (2. 1 - 5, 24) by the agreed 50-year-old peace between Athens and Sparta 421 v. The individual years serve as the chronological principle of order, in which he regularly differentiates between events in the summer and winter months - an innovation for the Greeks, who did not yet have a uniform year counting.

The third part of the work, precisely outlined by Thucydides himself at six years and ten months (5. 25–116), consists of the “suspicious truce” that came about as a result of the Nicias peace and which was not due to the failure of agreements and mutual attempts at taking advantage of the Spartans and Athenians sustainable end of the war meant. Thucydides closes this part with a description of the brutal submission of Melos in 415 BC. At the center of this coup d'état, which was successful from Athens' point of view, is the famous dialogue between Meliern and Athenians (5. 85–113), a unique example of quick exchange speech in which the tension between power and law is brought up drastically. For Will , this striking episode is at the center of the work: "If Thucydides had been able to lead his story of the war to 404, Melos would have been the pivotal point."

Also for the fourth part of the work immediately following, which describes the attempt by the Athenians to be carried out by a large fleet expedition in 415–413 BC. In order to gain dominion over Sicily (books VI and VII), the events surrounding Melos are seen in the Thucydides research in close relation, be it as a prelude and incentive for the far larger successor, or as a portent of growing hubris in Athens that contributed to the catastrophic outcome of the Sicilian expedition with the decisive defeat of the Athenian fleet and hoplite force near Syracuse.

The unfinished fifth part of the work deals with the Decelic-Ionic War in the years 413–411 BC. BC, the overthrow of democracy in Athens by the oligarchic regime of the 400 and its replacement by the constitution of the 5000 (Book VIII). Soon afterwards the display stops abruptly.

With his immediately following Hellenika , u. a. the historian Xenophon continued the portrayal of Thucydides until the end of the Peloponnesian War and beyond (and thus established an ancient historiographical tradition in the form of the historia perpetua ). The accuracy and density of the representation found in Thucydides was not achieved in the following.

Style and means of presentation

If you consider that historiography in Greek and Roman antiquity was generally assigned to the arts, Thucydides clearly set himself apart from it with his mostly sober presentation:

“Thucydides is too bitter for such arts. He is unmusical, even hostile to the Muses, like hardly any other Greek. He would not have wished for an effect through the magic of the word, myths and poems are just a game that has become easy and does not come close to the severity of the lived fate. He didn't feel like an artist, but as a cognizer…. "

Condensation and concise brevity characterize his style, which is characterized by the frequent use of substantivated infinitives, participles and adjectives. The rhetoric teacher Dionysius of Halicarnassus criticized him for this as indistinct, overly short, complex, strict, hard and dark. Scardino thinks that this style stimulates the active intellectual cooperation required by the reader. Landmann often finds the sentence periods difficult and awkward: "No word is for the sake of the word, there is always a thought behind it that, rethought, creates a new expression, concise, polished, sound."

After Saturday, the work is not an exciting read for long stretches, in which military actions are dealt with in great detail or notes on the history of the event have to be processed without any aid to identify their historical significance. But these passages are also part of a historical concept in which care and meticulousness dominate. In particular, however, the reader is compensated by those parts of the work "which without question belong to the classics of historiography" and which Thucydides' historical-literary ability is impressively underlined.

In addition to captivating descriptions such as the outbreak and devastation of the Attic plague among the besieged Athenians (Thuk. 2. 47–54) and the first decided and then averted downfall of Mytilenes (3. 35–50), the speeches in to which the political actors present their respective views. They make up about a quarter of the entire work. The design of the speeches is influenced by both sophistic rhetoric and tragedy poetry. Speech and counter-speech (the dissoi logoi ) as means of representation correspond to a pattern that was widespread at the time. The speeches are often represented, especially in the first book, which deals with the decision between war and peace, and otherwise especially when the motives for important decisions are to be clarified. Thucydides also explains his methodical approach for this means of representation:

“What was put forward in the speeches here and there while they were preparing to go to war, and while they were already in it, to reproduce the literal accuracy of it was difficult both for me, where I listened, as well as for my informants from elsewhere; just as, in my opinion, everyone in his or her position had to speak, so the speeches are there, as closely as possible to the overall meaning of what is actually said. "

Thucydides does not claim a verbatim rendering of the text of the speech; These are the author's creations, but in a deeper sense they can be viewed as historically true, since they relate to the respective historical situation (περὶ τῶν αἰεὶ παρόντων), to the demands she has made on the speaker (τὰ δέοντα) and on target the overall political attitude of the speaker (τῆς ξυμπάσης γνώμης). Thucydides used typical elements of a real speech and enriched them with puns and rhetorical tricks. This puts the reader in the position of a listener who, based on the actual course of events, has to form his own judgment about the various points of view put forward by the parties. By confronting the respective rhetorical strategy and the effect of the argument, the reader, according to Hagmaier, is given "a more vivid and deeper picture than an analytical representation could reveal."

The unity of the Thucydideic work is supported by transition and introductory formulas as well as by the meaningful connection of flashbacks and anticipations, even beyond the predominantly chronological representation. The selection and arrangement of the facts as well as the logically related interplay of speeches and narration also contribute to this.

Questions of Thucydides Research

The non-completion of the work by Thucydides and the inconsistent design of various parts of the work by the historian puzzles Thucydides research to this day and inspires them to question and interpretations. The history of the genesis of the work published by an unknown editor, Thucydides' intentions with it and in it, as well as his personal orientation in terms of social and constitutional policy are discussed on an ongoing basis.

"Analysts" and "Unitarians": the "Thucydideic question"

From 1845 onwards, the philologist Franz Wolfgang Ullrich developed a new view of the work of Thucydides, who had noticed that Thucydides did not refer to the total duration of the conflict between Sparta and Athens in his extensive introduction before describing the Archidamian War, but rather does this only in view of the failed Nicias peace in the context of a second foreword. In connection with other deductions, Ullrich came to the conclusion that Thucydides initially only wanted to depict the Archidamian War, but then the resurgence of fighting in the course of the Sicilian expedition had prompted a new approach, which he had after the defeat of Athens in 404 BC . Set in motion. When Ullrich tried to prove a layering and overlapping of original parts of the presentation with elements of a reinterpretation of the entire event by Thucydides, he established the branch of interpretation of the "analysts".

While these refer in their exegesis to text passages that stand for different periods of writing and are intended to mark a change in Thucydides' perception, the Unitarian branch of interpretation is about the proof that Thucydides wrote his work in a train after 404 BC. Have implemented. “It is easy to see”, writes Will, “that mediation between the sometimes diametrically opposed points of view was hardly possible; a 'unitarian' interpretation produced an 'analytical' response and vice versa. "

The references given by the analysts on the one hand to "early indicators" and on the other hand to "late indicators" in Thucydides' work, which should serve to assign to an early or late drafting time of the respective section of the presentation, become concrete objects of discussion. So z. B. Thucydides' assertion and explanation of the completely new dimensions of this war as well as his methodological accents are mainly assigned to an early phase of the work on the assumption that at that point in time Thucydides wanted to differentiate and assert himself above all against the particularly popular Herodotus . But after 404 B.C. No longer played a role: “Thucydides now wrote for the generation of the lost war, a readership,” says Will, “who, under the fresh impression of the Spartan tyranny, was indifferent to the glory of the ancestors and who instead wanted to know who was involved in this war whose beginnings only very few people had consciously experienced, for what purposes they led and who was ultimately responsible for the catastrophe. "

Only when he was aware of the final defeat of Athens, or at least aware of its inevitability, Thucydides, who had now also developed a more negative attitude towards Sparta, had the insight into the real cause of the war for him: the irreconcilable dualism of the two great Greek powers, namely, from which the war inevitably resulted up to the destruction of one side. “This conviction”, says Will, “does not stand at the beginning, but at the end of his preoccupation with the matter.” It was only with this late realization that the portrayal of pentecontacty, aimed at working out the increasing rivalry between the two great powers, became useful and necessary, which is why u. a. these two work components can be clearly assigned to the late indices.

Hagmaier, for example, does not agree with such a theory of the complementary set pieces in the first book of the work, who rather sees it as a self-contained unit, “which can hardly be the result of subsequent explanations, insertions or additions.” A skeptical and mediating attitude in the Conflict between analysts and Unitarians takes on Scardino, for example, by summing up:

“With a certain plausibility one can assume that Thucydides began to collect written notes (ὑπομνήματα) immediately after the outbreak of war and subsequently, perhaps after 421, to work them out in part. After 404 he began to write down his work according to a uniform plan and concept, whereby it is not possible to estimate at which points and to what extent he has already taken over more or less finished designs and incorporated them into his unfinished work. "

Subsequent transfiguration of Pericles?

From Will's analytical point of view, the phase-differentiated holistic nature of the Peloponnesian War finally discovered by Thucydides was the guideline for the “final editing”, which was specifically dedicated to the introductory part and the time up to Pericles' death. Thucydides was essentially concerned in his work with the image to be drawn by Pericles. The presentation of the numerous remaining war years appears almost as a footnote to the concluding appraisal of Pericles (2. 65).

“The presentation of the Perikleischen years can be described as the most dense and formally coherent part of the Thucydideic work. It contains all the stylistic means that Thucydides has at his disposal and that identify him as a dramatist as well as a historian: the speech in direct or indirect form, the digression, the reflection of the characters such as the author, the letter. […] In these chapters the entire history of the war is present; a preview marks the end, flashbacks not only lead back to the beginnings of Pentecontaetie and Spartan-Attic dualism, but almost to the archaic time of Athens, when the ancestors of Pericles stepped into the light of history. The rapid succession of Erga and Logoi drives the action forward, digressions and summaries reveal connections and, as retarding moments, increase the tension "

As a result of this presentation, however, the politician who led Athens to war is not shown, but an ideal, namely the strategist who, due to his superior war plan, would ultimately have made the confrontation with Sparta victorious. "What was initially planned as an apology for the hero ends in a kind of apotheosis," writes Will in the foreword to his work Thucydides and Pericles. The historian and his hero . If one follows him, Thucydides does not meet his own methodological guidelines and demands. In comparison with other prewar disputes widely discussed by Thucydides, the trade blockade against Megara (the Megarian Psephism) initiated by Pericles and defended by him against external threats is deliberately marginalized, says Will.

The Fallen Speech of Pericles in a medieval Thucydides manuscript (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek , Cod. Graec. 430, fol. 53v, 10th / 11th century)

There is not even a "semblance of historicity" for Will in Thucydides 'rendering of a Pericles speech at the beginning of the war, where he expects his fellow citizens to understand that Athens' rigid exercise of rule in the Attic League could be based on injustice (2. 63). "The initial phase of the war, in which Euripides celebrated Athens as a haven of freedom in his tragedies, was not the situation in which Athens suffered such injustice, the Pnyx was not the place where the indictment was formulated."

On various occasions Will Thucydides' declared intention to correctly reproduce the content of the speeches: “Given the initially unexpected continuation of the war and the defeat of Athens, which was not foreseeable until very late, Thucydides designed his speeches in a way that no longer fully complied with the guidelines set out at the beginning; […] Thucydides probably not only faked speeches like the logos of the Athenians in the first book, but also occasions and perhaps even the person of the speaker. ”The famous Epitaphios ( speech on the fallen , Thucydides 2. 35-46) reflects them far more Thoughts of the historian Thucydides than the words of the statesman Pericles. "In thirty years Pericles' thoughts turned into Thucydidean, Thucydidean views congealed into Periclean." The sum total for Will: "Pericles is the historian's self-portrait as a statesman."

Will sees the willingness of Thucydides to identify with Pericles to be significantly promoted by the Thracian possessions of the historian, for which, in the course of Athens' imperial policy, supported by Pericles, improved connections and better possibilities of use opened up. As a result, the kimon relative, a native of Pericles opponent, has become his supporter and war advocate - "in the role of the political convert with all the psychological implications associated with it."

In contrast, Bleckmann considers Thucydides' approach to interpretation and the attitude he witnessed for Pericles in the emergence of the Peloponnesian War to be entirely understandable: “The ultimate demands of Sparta culminated in the demand to give back the autonomy of Athens to the Graubünden and thus a large part of the organizational development of the Federal to question. These demands stood at the end of a series of attempts by Sparta and its allies to break up the Attic League. ”At that time, however, Athens' supply, prosperity and democracy were already far too closely linked to the instrument of the Attic League for the Athenians to make such demands Without further ado, they could have given in: "Entering the war entailed great risks, but avoiding the entry into war could not ensure the integrity of the rule." Since Thucydides, as a member of the aristocratic elite of Athens, knew Pericles personally and had been informed first hand about considerations about entering the war Bleckmann pleads for agreeing with Thucydides 'judgment regarding Pericles' motives for entering the war.

Aspects of Political Thought

The historian Thucydides barely shows any one-dimensional positioning in the political debate and open political partisanship in his work. Thucydides ostentatiously ignores the process of appointment to the office of strategist and the personal experiences made in this most important state-political function at the time, and in this way conveys that he is aiming at something other than the generalization of individual experiences. According to Hartmut Leppin , his aristocratic background does not allow any simple conclusions to be drawn about an oligarchic orientation.

Important suggestions for his image of man and his judgment on formative political forces as well as on constitutional aspects may have been given above all by the contemporary sophists , who also worked with enlightenment claims in the Athens public. Since Thucydides avoids any kind of direct political commitment, only the interpretation of the work can provide information about his political thinking.

Image of man

Significant importance for the understanding of history and political thinking of Thucydides is his view of man. A human nature that is common to all and that endures the ages determines historical events as a regulative principle, as Hagmaier z. B. from Thucydides' generalized assessment of the war and civil war in Kerkyra :

“So in constant turmoil much hardship fell over the cities, as it happens and will happen again and again as long as human beings remain the same, but worse or more harmless and in always different forms, as the changing circumstances bring with it . For in peace and prosperity the way of thinking of people and of all peoples is better because they are not oppressed by forced necessities; but the war that undoes the easy life of everyday life is a violent teacher and tunes the passion of the crowd for the moment. "

With such reflections, Thucydides would like to guide, concludes Hagmaier, “the regularities of historical-political processes that result from the basic driving forces of ἀνθρώπεια φύσις [human nature], using the example of the Peloponnesian war to grasp the insights gained from reading his historical work to apply to future events. "

The striving for power of individuals, groups and entire states, which is driven by ambition, selfishness and fear, is an essential component of human nature that Thucydides addressed in many cases, especially in the Melierdialog. "Whoever shows weakness must succumb to the stronger", Will sums up the experiences prepared by Thucydides, "whoever sees the opportunity to rule is not afraid of any crime." The lust for power is based on greed, in wanting more for one's own benefit, as well as in that Lust for honor and fame.

“Oaths, if any comparison were confirmed in this way, were taken in times of need when both [warring parties] no longer knew what to do, and were valid for the moment; but whoever took courage again at the right opportunity, when he discovered a nakedness, would rather take his revenge through betrayal than in open battle, once for his own safety and then because the triumph he had lost won him the prize of cunning. For in general a person would rather be called a villain, but clever, than a fool, even if decent; he is ashamed of the one, he boasts of the other. "

Incidentally, according to Scardino, Thucydides assumes that humans act purposefully in the sense of their own benefit, unless lack of knowledge, affects that carry them away, or external circumstances prevent them from doing so. Often, however, he allows himself to be guided more by wishes and hopes than by reasonable consideration - “how people usually leave what they desire to be thoughtlessly hoped for, but what is not convenient is pushed away with high-handed justifications.” Therefore, according to Leppin, in Most of the speeches dealt with by Thucydides appeals to the self-interest of the audience, while moral and legal considerations take a back seat.

Political powers

As much as Thucydides emphasized the influence of natural human characteristics on political and historical events - and thus countered the conventional idea of ​​the determining influence of the gods on human fate - on the other hand, his image of man turns out to be neither predetermined ( deterministic ) nor as static: "His statements about human nature do not in themselves allow precise predictions, because the historian knows that natural disasters and coincidences can influence development." While the nature (φύσις) of man remains the same, the behavior (τρόποι) for Thucydides quite versatile, for better as well as for worse. In Athens in the 5th century BC With the tributes of the allies in the Seebund, with the comfortable position of power of the city, also in economic terms and with the democratization of the citizenry, the desire for increased wealth had spread strongly. Thus, according to Thucydides, making money became the motive of individuals, groups and the population as a whole.

In that Thucydides moves from individual psychology to socio-psychological deductions with regard to the reactions and behavior of crowds - especially the Athenian people's assembly - and states there an increased tendency towards affects and passion at the expense of reason, he expects politicians who like Pericles According to Scardino, rationality and personal integrity are characterized by the fact that they use analytical and communication skills to steer the people on the right track. According to Thucydides, this is all the more necessary since further detrimental properties are strongly developed in the mass gathering:

“The masses are unsteady and unsteady in their views, they blame others for their failures, especially politicians, sometimes fortune tellers. So sensible decisions cannot be expected when the people dominate the decision-making process and the politicians live in fear of it. Since this is the case often enough, inappropriate criteria are always decisive. "

In order to neutralize such tendencies of the masses, leading politicians with opposite characteristics are needed, who, in addition to the altruistic love for their own polis, have an analytical mind, are able to communicate well to others, are assertive and prove to be incorruptible in their work for the community. Thucydides found such properties in Pericles, but also in Hermocrates and Themistocles . Alkibiades, on the other hand, was unsatisfactory in spite of his brilliance, insofar as he mainly followed his own interests and did not have the ability to win the trust of the people in the long term. In his concluding tribute to Pericles, Thucydides praised him:

“For as long as he ran the city in peace, he managed it with moderation and kept it safe, and under him it became so big, and when the war broke out, as can be shown, he had correctly calculated the forces for this too . [...] Because he had told them not to split up, to expand the fleet, not to enlarge their empire during the war and not to jeopardize the city, then they would win. But they did the opposite of everything and, out of personal ambition and for personal gain, tore the entire state into undertakings that seemed unrelated to the war and which, wrong for Athens itself and its league, as long as things went well, would rather honor individual citizens and brought advantage, but in failure weakened the city for war. That was because he, powerful through his reputation and his insight and immaculately gifted in money matters, tamed the masses in freedom, leading himself, not led by them, because he did not, in order to acquire leadership with unobjective means, to please them talked, but had enough prestige to contradict her in anger. Whenever he noticed that at the wrong time they rose up in frivolous confidence, he struck them with his speech in such a way that they became fearful, and out of unfounded fear he picked them up again and encouraged them. It was a democracy in name, in reality the rule of the First Man. "

Constitutional aspects

Constitutional questions are neither at the center of Thucydide's work, nor are there any coherent, targeted reflections on it. Thucydides did not expressly deal with the best constitution of the polis. Nevertheless, Thucydides researchers have a widespread interest in clarifying what an often meticulous and widely oriented observer of current affairs was with regard to the constitutional spectrum of the Greek polis familiar to him.

Will takes Thucydides's judgment as a key reference point for Thucydides' constitutional ideal, according to which Athens in the era of Pericles was democratic in name, but in fact the rule of the first man, and draws the conclusion that Thucydides was involved in the reconciliation of the democratic world the oligarchic by propagating aristocratic rule within the democratic as a new model of the state.

Leppin's work analysis in this regard is more open-ended. The constitutional speeches dealt with by Thucydides, for example, do not necessarily reflect Thucydides' own thinking about it, but are primarily aimed at increasing the reader's awareness of the problem. The special appreciation of a stable legal order and the warning against the anomie that z. B. occurred as a result of the Attic epidemic. In what is probably the most detailed presentation of a democratic constitutional system by the Syracusan Athenagoras, legal validity and legal equality of citizens are shown as basic principles; With regard to their political function, however, the population groups, which form a whole as demos, are divided: “The rich (οἱ πλόυσιοι) are the most suitable guardians of state funds; The wise (ζυνετόι) are best at giving advice; the mass (οἱ πολλόι) is best suited to decide after it has informed itself about the facts. "

Within the constitutional typological debate, the democratic side tends to argue more “institutionalist”, for example by emphasizing the slogan of office, while the oligarchical side tends to argue more “personalistic”, ie essentially with reference to the special political qualities of the ruling elite. Thucydides does not seem to make a fundamental qualitative difference between democracies and oligarchies. The problem of the masses guided by affects arises with both types of constitution. According to Thucydides, the criterion for a good constitution is essentially the successful balance of interests between the masses and the few.

His greatest express approval was found after the oligarchic tyranny of the 400 in Athens in 411 BC. Constitution of the 5000 practiced in BC, in which a size of the popular assembly limited to the number of hoplites had political decision-making power:

“Later there were numerous other assemblies in which they passed legislative and other state institutions, and Athens was in good shape for the first time in my life; it was a sensible balance between the few and the many and it was the first to bring the city back up from a difficult situation. "

According to Leppin, Thucydides' positive judgment on the democratic Athens at the time of Pericles is not in contradiction to this, if one assumes that Thucydides was hardly concerned with a determination within the framework of the classical constitutional typology (monarchy, oligarchy, democracy), but with the Unity and political functionality of the polis in the given historical-political environment.

Reception and aftermath

"The first page of Thucydides is the only beginning of all true history," wrote Immanuel Kant in agreement with David Hume ("The first page of Thucydides is the commencement of real history"). The Thucydides reception, which reached the height of esteem among those interested in history and philosophy, did not, however, consistently accept such a degree of attention. It was not only the sustained intensive recent Thucydides research that set critical accents in addition to the reverence to the protagonists of a scientifically reflected representation of history. Especially the beginning of its impact history suggests different responses.

The tradition of the work probably goes back to a non-preserved archetype from the time before Stephen of Byzantium in the 6th century. It is divided into two manuscript families, referred to as α and β, with 2 and 5 manuscripts respectively from the 10th and 11th centuries. Family β partly contains older traditions. Nevertheless, both families go back to a text Θ, the origin of which is to be assumed in the 9th century. Fragments of the work are also contained in around 100 papyri .

Ancient and European Middle Ages

The beginning of Lorenzo Valla's preface to his Latin translation of the historical work of Thucydides in the dedication copy for Pope Nicholas V. Manuscript Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 1801, fol. 1r

To write like Thucydides was the aim of some ancient authors - if they were interested in political history. Xenophon joined him, as did Kratippus of Athens . Philistus of Syracuse imitated him and Polybius took him as a model. On the other hand, Will states that Thucydides had an initially modest general effect on historians, speakers, publicists and philosophers, which only turned into widespread reception with the atticism of the first century BC. Neither Plato nor Demosthenes, for example, dealt with him in the context of known tradition. Plutarch, in turn, turned to him intensely: about fifty quotations from Thucydides' work can be found in him, "the vites of Alcibiades and Nicias can in places be seen as paraphrases of the Thucydideic account."

While Cicero , as a style critic, expressed disapproval of the speeches of Thucydides contained in the work, both Sallust and Tacitus have in some cases strongly oriented themselves towards him. However, Cicero is very familiar with the Thucydideic work, for he quotes from it in his letters to Atticus and elsewhere and praises both the historian's achievements and the style of his presentation. In general, interest in the work of Thucydides apparently increased significantly during the Roman Empire : In his work How to write history, Lukian of Samosata made fun of the fact that several historians (according to Crepereius Calpurnianus ) aligned their works completely with that of Thucydides and only slightly changed entire passages from him. In the 3rd century, Cassius Dio was influenced by Thucydides, as was Dexippus , but only fragments of his work have survived.

Even in late antiquity , Thucydides often remained a role model, for example for Ammianus Marcellinus (with regard to his approach in contemporary books), Priskos (who sometimes based his descriptions topically on Thucydides) or for Prokopios of Caesarea . The works of Byzantine historians written in the classical high language were also influenced by Thucydides.

In the West, Thucydides was only known in excerpts and in indirect tradition from Byzantium during the Middle Ages , while it was spread again during the Renaissance . In 1502 Aldus Manutius published the Greek Editio princeps in Venice . A Latin translation was completed by Lorenzo Valla in 1452 and printed in 1513. The first translation into German, made by theology professor Johann David Heilmann , appeared in 1760.

Modern times and the present

In modern times, Thucydides a. a. celebrated as the "father of political historiography" and praised for his objectivity. Besides Hume and Kant, he was praised by Machiavelli , who was heavily influenced by Thomas Hobbes , who translated him into English and interpreted his work, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel . Friedrich Nietzsche noted:

“From the pathetic whitewashing of the Greeks to the ideal, which the 'classically educated' youth carries away as a reward for his high school dressage, nothing cures so thoroughly as Thucydides. One has to turn him over line by line and read his ulterior motives as clearly as his words: there are few thinkers who are so ulterior. "

Max Weber recognizes a “ Thucydideic pragma ” in his way of writing history and sees it as a characteristic of the Occident.

Wolfgang Will calls Thucydides' meticulousness unequaled; But above all, anyone who wants to understand great power politics in the 21st century will have to stick to it. Little help can be expected from contemporary historical works.

Thucydides' orientation to the principle of the greatest possible objectivity is understandable in many ways. Not all of the information can be verified, but a significant part can be verified, as epigraphic and prosopographical studies show. In this context, it must always be taken into account that Thucydides is often the sole source for certain historical events and that he does not cover all interesting aspects of social history. The effectiveness of his work should not induce one to accept his presentation without reflection. Thucydides' outline of early Greek history ( Archaiologia ) cannot exist in the light of more recent research, and the presentation of the so-called pentecontaety also shows considerable gaps.

Despite the complexity, which does not make it easy to grasp the work as a whole, it has developed a wide impact up to the present day. The characterization of democracy contained therein was - before its deletion - the motto in the draft text of the EU constitution. At the Naval War College in Newport , USA - as well as at other military academies - the work is required reading. In view of the growing global influence of the People's Republic of China political scientist Graham Allison warned in the 2010s before Thucydides Trap ( Thucydides's trap ): It threatens analogous to Thucydides idea that the (Peloponnesian) war because of fear of the established superpower Sparta Before Athens' power gains had become inevitable, a military conflict between the previous world power USA and China.

Editions / translations


  • Edith Foster, Donald Latin (Ed.): Thucydides and Herodotus. Oxford University Press, Oxford u. a. 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-959326-2 .
  • Hans Herter (Ed.): Thukydides (= ways of research , vol. 98). Darmstadt 1968 [collection of scientific articles]
  • Simon Hornblower: Thucydidean Themes . Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York 2010.
  • Simon Hornblower: A Commentary on Thucydides . 3 volumes, Oxford 1991-2008, ISBN 0-19-815099-7 (Vol. 1) [basic commentary]
  • Simon Hornblower: Thucydides from Athens. I. Origin and life. II. Work. A. Content. B. method. C. Problems of Research. III. Appreciation . In: The New Pauly . Edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider , Vol. 12 (2002), Col. 506-511.
  • Donald Kagan : Thucydides. The reinvention of history . Penguin Books, New York 2009.
  • Christine Lee, Neville Morley (Eds.): A Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester 2015 [Reception history]
  • Hartmut Leppin : Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC . Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-05-003458-0 .
  • Jürgen Malitz : Thucydides' way of writing history. In: Historia . Volume 31, 1982, pp. 257-289 ( online ).
  • Klaus Meister : The Greek historiography . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1990, pp. 45ff.
  • Klaus Meister: Thucydides as a role model for historians. From antiquity to the present. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2013 [Reception history]
  • Dietram Müller : Topographical-geographical image lexicon for the history of Thucydides . Chelmos, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-00-041513-5 .
  • Jonathan J. Price: Thucydides and Internal War . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001 [Price takes the position that the basic idea of ​​the Thucydideic work is to portray the Peloponnesian War as a Greek civil war .]
  • Antonios Rengakos : Thucydides . In: Bernhard Zimmermann (Hrsg.): Handbook of the Greek literature of antiquity , Volume 1: The literature of the archaic and classical times . CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-57673-7 , pp. 381-417
  • Antonios Rengakos, Antonis Tsakmakis (eds.): Brill's Companion to Thucydides . Brill, Leiden u. a. 2006, ISBN 978-90-04-13683-0 [extensive and current collection of scientific articles]
  • Wolfgang Schadewaldt : The beginnings of historiography among the Greeks . Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Frankfurt a. M. 1990, ISBN 3-518-27989-0 .
  • Holger Sonnabend : Thukydides (study books ancient 13) . Hildesheim 2004, ISBN 3-487-12787-3 .
  • Nicolas Stockhammer: The principle of power. The rationality of political power in Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Michel Foucault . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-2801-8 .
  • Wolfgang Will : Thucydides and Pericles. The historian and his hero (= Antiquitas. Treatises on ancient history, Vol. 51) . Bonn 2003, ISBN 3-7749-3149-6 . ( Review )
  • Wolfgang Will: Herodotus and Thucydides. The birth of the story. Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68217-9 .
  • Perez Zagorin: Thucydides. An introduction for the Common Reader . Princeton University Press, Princeton 2005.

Web links

Wikisource: Thucydides (in Greek)  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Thucydides  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Thucydides  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Thucydides I 22.
  2. Thucydides 1.1; 2. 48; 4. 104-107; 5. 26
  3. Holger Sonnabend: Thucydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 9
  4. ^ Plutarch, Kimon 4
  5. Will 2015, p. 66, confirming: “In any case, in the foreword he already expresses an early interest in the new profession, which would later be called historiography. The confrontation with Herodotus, the role model never mentioned by name, who was to surpass the sting that drove him, is presumably limited to the work. "
  6. Thucydides 1.1
  7. Thucydides; 2. 48
  8. MJ Papagrigorakis, C. Yapijakis, PN Synodinos, E. Baziotopoulou-Valavani: DNA examination of ancient dental pulp incriminates typhoid fever as a probable cause of the Plague of Athens. In: International journal of infectious diseases: IJID: official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Volume 10, Number 3, May 2006, pp. 206-214, doi: 10.1016 / j.ijid.2005.09.001 , PMID 16412683 .
  9. Will 2015, p. 244
  10. Thucydides 4. 104
  11. Thucydides 4.105f.
  12. Will 2015, p. 229. “Meanwhile, Brasidas was concerned about the naval aid from Thasos, had also heard that Thucydides owned the use of the gold mines in this part of Thrace and was therefore one of the most powerful men on the mainland; so he was in a hurry to occupy the city, if possible beforehand, because if Thucydides were only there and the crowd in Amphipolis was again hoping for relief from the federal troops that he would bring from the sea and from Thrace, the Anschluss would no longer take place. "(Thucydides 4. 105)
  13. Will 2015, p. 124.
  14. ^ Thucydides 4th 81.
  15. Thucydides 5:26; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 387f.)
  16. See the comment in the Thucydidesvita of Marcellinus ( Vita Thuk. 46).
  17. Pausanias 1. 23
  18. Thucydides 8. 84
  19. Holger Sonnabend: Thucydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 15; Will 2015, p. 65.
  20. Georg Peter Landmann in: Thukydides: The Peloponnesian War . Translated and provided with an introduction and explanations by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991, p. 8.
  21. About 411 BC In his traditional account of the course of the war, Thucydides did not get out.
  22. Bruno Bleckmann : The Peloponnesian War. Munich 2007, p. 9. Bleckmann points out that, from a different perspective, the Decelic-Ionic War (413–404 BC) can also be compared with Athens' attempt at revenge for the defeat suffered in the Corinthian War in 404 (395–386 BC) . Chr.) To a great epoch instead of the Archidamian War (431-421 BC). (ibid)
  23. Bruno Bleckmann: The Peloponnesian War. Munich 2007, p. 13.
  24. Georg Peter Landmann in: Thukydides: The Peloponnesian War . Translated and provided with an introduction and explanations by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991, p. 8.
  25. Ernst Heitsch : History and people in Thucydides . Berlin - New York 2007, p. 174.
  26. Wolfgang Will : The downfall of Melos. Bonn 2006, p. 118.
  27. Bruno Bleckmann: The Peloponnesian War. Munich 2007, p. 59.
  28. See the classic article by Nicole Loraux: Thucydides is not a colleague. In: John Marincola (Ed.): Greek and Roman Historiography . Oxford 2011, pp. 19-39.
  29. Thucydides 1. 20-22
  30. Thucydides 1:22; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 35f.)
  31. Saturday, pp. 55–58
  32. Thucydides 1:22; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 36)
  33. Thucydides 1. 23: τὴν μὲν γὰρ ἀληθεστάτην πρόφασιν, ἀφανεστάτην δὲ λόγῳ, τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ἡγοῦμαι μεγάλους γιγνομένους καὶ φόβον παρέχοντας τοῖς Λακεδαιμονίοις ἀναγκάσαι ἐς τὸ πολεμεῖν · German version cited by George Peter Landmann in: Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War . Translated and provided with an introduction and explanations by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991, p. 37
  34. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin - New York 2008, p. 385; Saturday 2004, p. 53f .; Hagmaier gives the following summarizing interpretation: “Thucydides sees in the αἰτίαι καὶ διαφοράι the obvious (ἐς τὸ φανερὸν λεγόμεναι) occasions which in the cause of the war function as a secondary necessary factor in the conflict, in that they ultimately act as the deeper conflict factor . In contrast, he diagnoses (ἡγοῦμαι) as the responsible factor in the real sense (ἀληθεστάτη πρόφασις) under the visible surface, the interaction of two factors, the growth of Athenian power and the fear it triggered in the Spartans. Since behind these two components there are the driving forces anchored in ἀνθρώπεία φύσις [human nature], this process carries an inevitable necessity (ἀναγκάσαι). ”(Martin Hagmaier: Rhetorik und Geschichte. A study of the war speeches in the first book of Thucydides. Berlin et al. 2008, p. 6f.)
  35. Saturday, p. 29; Carlo Scardino offers a detailed overview of the content of the work as well as the associated time and position details: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides Berlin - New York 2008, pp. 387-394
  36. Thucydides April 5, 2015
  37. Wolfgang Will: The downfall of Melos. Bonn 2006, p. 98. The Melierdialog also has a special position for Will insofar as, in his opinion, both sides could not have actually spoken in the manner cited: “They say rather what they thought (in the opinion of Thucydides), but otherwise hid it in public speech behind diplomatic phrases. "(ibid., p. 99)
  38. ". More over, the position of the dialogue just before the Sicilian expedition Allows the two situations to illume one another" (CW Macleod: Form and Meaning in the Melian Dialogue In: Historia 23 (1974), p 400; zit.. n. Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin et al. 2008, p. 477, note 244)
  39. Bruno Bleckmann: The Peloponnesian War. Munich 2007, p. 14: “On the one hand, Xenophon reports in his Hellenica only on individual sections of the war, such as the Arginusen Trial (406) or the surrender of Athens (404), in relatively detail, while on the other hand he reports summarily or at all not treated. His report does not even allow the chronology of the last years of the war to be reconstructed with any certainty. "
  40. Georg Peter Landmann in: Thukydides: The Peloponnesian War . Translated and provided with an introduction and explanations by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991, p. 13
  41. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides . Berlin - New York 2007, pp. 451–453
  42. Georg Peter Landmann in: Thukydides: The Peloponnesian War . Translated and provided with an introduction and explanations by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991, p. 18
  43. Holger Sonnabend: Thucydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 85.
  44. Thucydides 1. 22: Καὶ ὅσα μὲν λόγῳ εἶπον ἕκαστοι ἢ μέλλοντες πολεμήσειν ἢ ἐν αὐτῷ ἤδη ὄντες , χαλεπὸν τὴν ἀκρίβειαν αὐτὴν τῶν λεχθέντων διαμνημονεῦσαι ἦν ἐμοί τε ὧν αὐτὸς ἤκουσα καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοθέν ποθεν ἐμοὶ ἀπαγγέλλουσιν · ὡς δ 'ἂν ἐδόκουν ἐμοὶ ἕκαστοι περὶ τῶν αἰεὶ παρόντων τὰ δέοντα μάλιστ 'εἰπεῖν, ἐχομένῳ ὅτι ἐγγύτατα τῆς ξυμπάσης γνώμὕς τῶλν ἀληθῶς ωτως, ἴληθτς ωτως, ἴληθθς εχως, ρντητως, ἴλητως, ληθτς ωτως, ρντητως, ἴληθντως, ρντως, ηληθντως, ἴληθτς τως. Translation quoted from Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 36). There are different interpretations of the adjective χαλεπὸν in research. Where it is set synonymously with ἀδύνατον, Thucydides emphasized the impossibility of verbatim rendering. Scardino sees χαλεπὸν however as an expression for an objective or subjective difficulty and means: "Thucydides does not attribute the renunciation of the ἀκρίβεια to a ἀδύνατον, but to his subjective judgment." (Carlo Scardino: Formation and function of the speeches with Herodot and Thucydides. Berlin - New York 2008, p. 403)
  45. Martin Hagmaier: Rhetoric and History. A study of the war speeches in the first book of Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2008, p. 242ff.
  46. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2007, p. 442
  47. Thucydides 5. 26. Thucydides emphasizes at the same time that the oracle believers had long been prepared for this: “For all the time, I remember, already at the beginning of the war and until its end, it was announced by many that it was three times nine Must take years. "
  48. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 329. Will gives ibid., Pp. 321–367, from an analytical point of view, a differentiated overview of the research problem, which has meanwhile been more than a century and a half.
  49. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), pp. 60f.
  50. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 62
  51. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 335ff. To justify the assumed changed perception of the causes of war by Thucydides, Will refers to the special situation of 404 BC. Those who returned to Athens from twenty years of exile: "The late return to a city that was alien to him after such a long absence, the encounter with a generation that had not lived through the beginnings of the war and judged them from the experience of defeat, Thucydides will have led into a certain isolation and determined to defiantly hold on to earlier positions. The reasons for the persistently advocated view that Pericles embodied the correct politics, however, cannot have been the same as 431. "(Ibid., P. 225)
  52. Martin Hagmaier: Rhetoric and History. A study of the war speeches in the first book of Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2008, p. 11, with reference to a number of similar findings by other researchers (note 37, ibid.)
  53. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2008, p. 399
  54. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 186.
  55. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 185
  56. Wolfgang Will, Thukydides and Perikles (2003), et al. Pp. 177ff. and 231f. Criticizing a selective approach, the final Thucydides appraisal (p. 116) in Sonnabend (2004) even erroneously states: “A classic example is his description of the causes of the Peloponnesian War (1.24–87). Here he deals in great detail with the incidents around Kerkyra and Potideia, but completely withholds the 'Megarian Psephisma', which other sources consider important, i.e. the decision of the Athenian people's assembly to close all ports to the import of goods from the city of Megara . ”On the other hand, see Thucydides 1. 67 on the meeting of the Peloponnesian League in Sparta:“ Among the many who appeared there, and one after the other raised their reproaches, the Megarians in particular declared, besides other not insignificant points of contention, that they were above all from the ports of the Athenian Empire and excluded from the Attic market against the treaty. "Thucydides 1. 139 on the demands of Spartan embassies in Athens:" ... but later they came to Athens more often and demanded the withdrawal of the army from Potideia, granting full independence to Aegina , and what they declared with the greatest determination as the most important thing: the war was avoidable if the resolution on the Megarians were repealed, it read: they would be excluded from all ports of the Attic Empire and from trade in Attica. But the Athenians did not agree to anything, in particular they did not revoke the decision by accusing the Megarians of accepting the slaves who had escaped from Athens and cultivating holy land and controversial borders. " the demands of the Peloponnesian League): “They demand the withdrawal of the army from Potideia; Granting independence to Aegina, repeal of the Megar Decree, and the last ones to arrive here, demand the independence of the Hellenes in general. But you don't think we'd be waging war over a trifle if we didn't overturn the megar resolution; they are now entrenched behind it: you would have to reverse it, then there would be no war; but in yourselves you have to wipe out every trace of the thought, as if you had started war for a trivial reason. Because this trifle signifies a touchstone and the hardening of your whole attitude; if you give in here, you will immediately receive a new, more difficult command - for you obeyed out of fear. "Thucydides 1,144 (Pericles in the same speech):" But now we want to send the ambassadors home with the answer that we would open the Megarians allow our market, in our ports, even if Sparta renounces the expulsion of foreigners towards us and our allies ... ”(quoted from the translation by Georg Peter Landmann, dtv edition Munich 1991)
  57. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 211.
  58. Thucydides 1. 73-78
  59. Wolfgang Will, Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 365
  60. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 204.
  61. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 241.
  62. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 224.
  63. Bruno Bleckmann: The Peloponnesian War. Munich 2007, p. 35f.
  64. Will writes in this regard: "In the preserved work he takes care not to generalize his own experiences, but they should not have remained without influence on his writing." (Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 225)
  65. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 18. With a view to Thucydides' negative judgment about the oligarchic regime of the 400 in the year 411 BC. BC Leppin states that the historian does not recognize the moral superiority of the noble, which was often claimed as a matter of course by them. “He doesn't touch the subject at all, even though there are plenty of opportunities. Rather, selfishness appears to him as a quality that encompasses all classes and supporters of the various political models. In this respect the historian is far removed from the traditional aristocratic mentality as well as from the oligarchic ideology. "(Ibid., P. 137)
  66. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin - New York 2008, p. 416f .; Saturday, p. 23f., Who mentions the philosopher Anaxagoras and the rhetorician Antiphon as probably influencing Thucydides.
  67. Thucydides 3:82; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 250)
  68. Martin Hagmaier: Rhetoric and History. A study of the war speeches in the first book of Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2008, p. 249
  69. Holger Sonnabend: Thucydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 51.
  70. Will 2015, p. 124.
  71. Thucydides 3:82; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 251)
  72. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2007, p. 430.
  73. Thucydides 4, 108; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 348)
  74. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 109.
  75. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 112f.
  76. Will 2015, p. 145.
  77. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 110: "Self-interest and emotions accordingly determine the foreign policy of the cities, as Thucydides illustrates in the course of the entire work."
  78. ^ Carlo Scardino: Design and function of the speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides. Berlin u. a. 2007, p. 437.
  79. Analytical gathering according to Hartmut Leppin: Thukydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 124.
  80. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, pp. 161 and 167.
  81. Thucydides 2. 65; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 161 f.)
  82. So, Thucydides 2. 65
  83. Wolfgang Will, Thucydides and Perikles (2003), p. 218. According to Will, Thucydides lived in the contradiction between the feeling of belonging to the aristocracy and the obligation of loyalty to the democratic system of Athens. (Ibid, p. 225)
  84. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 101f.
  85. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 91.
  86. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 98.
  87. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 170
  88. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 180.
  89. Thucydides 8th 97; quoted from the translation by Landmann (Munich 1991, p. 654)
  90. Hartmut Leppin: Thucydides and the constitution of the polis. A contribution to the history of political ideas in the fifth century BC. Berlin 1999, p. 183.
  91. Quoted from Holger Sonnabend: Thukydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 111.
  92. ^ Antonios Rengakos : Thucydides . In: Bernhard Zimmermann (Hrsg.): Handbook of Greek literature in antiquity. Volume 1: The literature of the archaic and classical times. CH Beck, Munich 2011, p. 411.
  93. On reception see now Christine Lee, Neville Morley (Ed.): A Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides. Chichester 2015; Klaus Meister: Thucydides as a role model for historians. From antiquity to the present. Paderborn 2013.
  94. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 256.
  95. Wolfgang Will: Thukydides and Perikles (2003), p. 170.
  96. Cicero, Orator 30-32.
  97. Holger Sonnabend: Thucydides. Hildesheim 2004, p. 107f.
  98. Cicero, ad Atticus 10,8,7 (from Thukydides 1,138,3 f.); 7.1.6 (after Thucydides 1.97.2); Brutus 29.47 (after Thucydides 8,68,1 f.) And more often; compare Martin Fleck: Cicero as a historian. Teubner, Stuttgart 1993, pp. 54-58.
  99. ^ Cicero, Brutus 47.
  100. See also Karl Strobel : Contemporary history under the Antonines: The historians of the Parthian War of Lucius Verus . In: Rise and Fall of the Roman World . Vol. II.34.2, 1994, pp. 1315-1360, especially pp. 1334ff., Whereby the possibility exists that the authors mentioned by Lukian are only fiction and served to illustrate his argumentation.
  101. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: "Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophize with the Hammer." 1888.
  102. Will 2015, p. 247.
  103. "The constitution that we have [...] is called democracy because the state is not geared towards a few citizens but towards the majority" (Thucydides II 37).
  104. James Morrison: Reading Thucydides , Columbus (OH) 2006.
  105. ^ Graham Allison: Destined For War: Can America and China escape Thucydides's Trap. Boston 2017. See in contrast the critical review by Arthur Waldron: There Is No Thucydides Trap.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on October 21, 2005 .